Sunday, March 14, 2010

Interview with Lakeland Jo

This week we interview English blogger Lakeland Jo who posts about her life in idyllic Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District. Jo has travelled to the USA many times and gives us her impressions:

Where have you been to in the States?
Chicago, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Orlando, Miami

What were your preconceived notions and how (if at all) were they different from your experience?
All I can say in brief is I expected to love it and I do. When I first started visiting I loved how fabulous the malls were, but UK is catching up fast. I also loved Starbucks but we have that too now! I expected everything to be on a big scale, but I was overwhelmed by the size of everything and how a big distance to us is a small distance to an American.

What do you like most about the States?
I like the attitude to success. It’s ok to be good at stuff, it’s ok to succeed, it’s ok to talk about succeeding and being good at stuff. I think the prevailing attitude is positive and upbeat.

Anything you dislike?
I am not sure dislike is the right word for this, and I can’t say that I am terribly well travelled in the US, but I was surprised that there seems to be such strong cultural similarities across such big distances. There appears to be a much more ‘conservative’ attitude to life than here in Europe from my perspective. Europeans seem much more cosmopolitan and liberal.

I really dislike the health care arrangements in the US. It really frightens me how it works over there. I hope it never gets like that here in the UK. I think the NHS is a diamond. It has flaws and it needs improving, but it is so worth maintaining and investing in. I will fight to protect it all my life. Bottom line- I am alive because of it. In the US I would either be dead, or bankrupt. Not right. It’s the bit of the American dream that doesn’t work for me. I once met a waitress in IHOP. Her teeth had fallen out at the front. She told me she couldn’t afford dental insurance. Folk have to sell houses when they have cancer. Nightmare.

We haven’t had much happiness on US airlines generally- the service is very poor and rude in our experience.

And also son't like the gun culture there.

What do you think the USA could learn from the UK?
See above- the NHS.

I think the British have a fairly international perspective on life- that doesn’t seem to the case in the US.

Portion control on food- so much goes to waste!

And what could the UK learn from the States?
Celebrating success, being proud of our country, attitude to service.

Describe Americans in one sentence (of less than twenty words.)

(I hate to’s a big country!)

Positive, friendly, helpful, patriotic, conservative, extroverted ( in comparison to Brits). There are very few Americans I have met or worked with that I haven’t liked.

Thank you Lakeland Jo.


  1. great post - in my [also] limited experience of the US, I'd mostly agree - people there are a delight in how friendly they are, how helpful. Service is always good and people there LOVE their country...

    But sadly I have to agree about the health care. I'd be dead if I lived there, unless I were lucky enough to have a fabulous health insurance.

    I went there expecting to dislike it...but I really loved it - the attitude to success is fabulous, and the welcome you receive as a 'foreigner' is unbelievable. The people seem larger than life.

    Oh - and the weather is SO much better than ours ;o)

  2. Brilliant and very well said! I'm posting this on Twitter for all the health care reform naysayers who think socialized medicine is evil. Thanks Jo!

  3. I have to disagree about the teeth, the most shocking thing I found on moving to Britain was that it really was true what they say about bad British teeth, and it's completely and utterly impossible to get NHS dental care because there's not enough to go around!

  4. Having been born and raised in WV I get constant ribbing about teeth and mostly it's something like "You're from WV and you have all of your teeth?" We have something called Mountain Dew mouth. I kid you not. In Appalachia people give Mountain Dew to their babies rather than milk because it is cheaper. Their teeth rot out of their heads even before they get their permanent teeth.

    copy and paste:

  5. Aarrgghh! I did hear about a toddler who was put to bed with coke in his bottle and ended up with no teeth, again in the USA. What many people don't know is that the damage can be almost as bad with a bottle full of milk over time. We have horrific posters in our kids' dentist office of babies with "milk teeth".
    Wouldn't you think some of those people in the Appalachians would be welcoming Obama's "socialised" health care?

  6. I enjoyed Jo's analysis and think it's very fair. I definitely agree about health care - the NHS may not be perfect but at least you know what you are getting. Here I am scared to even go to the doctor because I have no idea what they will charge and how much of it will be covered by insurance. It also astounds me how some Americans refuse to contemplate 'socialised' healthcare but are quite happy to pay taxes that will pay for education and major parts of their lives.

  7. I don't think many Americans realise just how much of what they have (police, education etc) is already "socialized". They have this idea that socialism = communism. What I really love is that a lot of the Tea-baggers are older citizens who are already on Medicaid. What is that if it's not BIG government, socialised medicine?
    Oh and yesterday, I took one of the kids to the dermatologist. Kid was prescribed a new anti-biotic, which I now know costs $700 for a two month supply. When I told the doctor I didn't want it (for moral and economic reasons) he happily prescribed me the generic equivalent - for $9!!!!

  8. What? That's ridiculous! The $700 antibiotic I mean, and the fact that he didn't mention the cheaper one.

    I agree with everything Jo said.

    On the teeth front, the reason so many of us Brits don't have good teeth is that orthodontic treatment was pretty crap until recently. Mine was very unhelpful as a teenager, so I said thanks but no thanks. I have basically fairly good teeth, but if I was in the US (or was a teenager now in the UK) I would definitely have a brace and would have pretty perfect teeth. It's just taken us a long while to catch up on that front. I will make sure Son has treatment if he needs it.

  9. I'm kind of surprised to find that I would've said pretty much everything Jo said, and I'm from the US but have lived in the UK. Also, I think a lot more Americans need to hear this perspective on the NHS from people who have experienced the benefits of it. Every other day there's an editorial in the paper from some right-wing person who's been to the UK once and is convinced the Brits don't like the NHS. I have yet to hear this from anyone when I've been there.


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