Friday, 15 June 2012

The things you tend to do as an expat


While I love posting about all the US verses UK comparisons big and small there's things I've started noticing about myself in relation to being British and away from the homeland. Plus with the recent Queen's Jubilee what's a better excuse then to think about all things English!

So as an expat here are some of the things you start to do;

Listening to BBC Radio 2 far, far more then you use to because American radio stations often seem to be lacking that variety of music and news. In the USA unless they are a public broadcaster they tend to be commercial [which sucks]. Even though the BBC is based thousands of miles away - you end up getting your news, especially international news that way.

Finding an "English Pub" in the next town and thinking up excuses for the need to visit there and drink "proper beer".

When getting into a car you have to double check which side the steering wheel is on - just to remind yourself that everything is opposite.

Following a car with a Union Jack sticker on the rear window or plate and getting way too excited. 

Knowing exactly what the time is in the UK at any given point throughout the day and therefore knowing what would showing on the TV.


Plans arise in your head to open a chippie shop to get your English fix of proper Fish n Chips.  Nothing compares to greasy fish n chips out of a tray with old newspaper keeping them warm. Not forgetting the wooden fork. Just the best thing ever.

You stalk the PBS channels on a Sunday night for the latest English show to be shown in the states be it Downton Abbey or Sherlock. It's months behind but you need your English TV drama fix.

Hearing an English voice on the TV/Radio or in the street is a source for excitement.

You prefer writing addresses on envelopes the English way rather then cramming the town, the state and the zip code on one line. [In the UK we do everything on separate lines]. 


When describing the location of your hometown to Americans you make reference to it's locality to London.

Being British you take the time to do your civic duty by trying to register to vote in elections while overseas. After getting directed by YouGov to the voting website you get told you need your application to be signed by a fellow British citizen who is living aboard [WTF?!]. The East Yorkshire website just wants you to fill out a simple form and that's it. Nevertheless a quick google search tells me the UK doesn't have to go to election till 2015 - I wasted my time. 

You watch the golf channel because most of the commentators are predominately English and are therefore far more knowledgeable.

Every time you visit a new supermarket you need to hunt out the English food aisle, drool and then be astonished at the prices they are charging for a bottle of brown sauce.


When shopping you feel the need to convert the dollar price back into UK pounds just to see how much it "really" is [and just for knowledge $1.50/£1].

Trying to cross a road you have to sometimes stop and think which direction the traffic is coming from. Then look, look again, and have another look just in case. 

You use English terms stubbornly in refusal of calling football soccer, boot as a trunk.

Using the Queens Jubilee became an excuse to paint your nails red, white and blue. Americans may look at me thinking I've been playing with my nail varnishes but I know deep down I'm saluting the Queen!

32 comments:

  1. I do love reading these comparisons, they make me giggle. I always feel the UK and US are very similar but then totally different at the same time. x

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    1. It's so true - it's the little things that make the difference and I'm starting to see a big comparison between attitudes and perceptions.

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  2. Things like proper fish n chips with lashings of vinegar, and widespread availability of HP Sauce are things we take for granted. I remember having similar conversations with my best friend when she moved abroad too. I bet you aren't missing the torrential rain in June though? Lol x

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    1. Haha yeah there is missing the traditional English summer - i've heard it's even worse then normal currently!

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  3. Haha I love this post!! When I lived in America for a bit back in 2010 I use to hunt out the cadbury in Walmart... It wasn't the same!! There is also nothing better than good old fish and chips from the local chippy, covered in salt and vinegar mmmmmmmmmmmm!!
    Charlotte
    x x

    lilmisschickas.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Luckily I was never really a big Cadbury fan - always more of a Galaxy girl which tastes the same here! Although I'm getting rather partial to American sweets!

      I need a chippie fix!

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  4. I can identify with all. these. things!

    I lived in the Middle East for a year and it never ceased to amaze me how much British food costed!

    Sarah
    http://acatlikecuriosity.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Luckily some of the Tetley tea bags are now being sold in the normal tea selection so the prices for that at least have gone down!

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  5. Ha I love this! One of my mates lives in Oz and is pretty vehement about not using "Aussie" terms.

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    1. I often go out of my way just to say the British term and wind up Joe about it haha!

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  6. Haha! Brilliant read, I loved this. x

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  7. What a cool little list. Living away from home does make you appreciate the things you never realised meant a lot. I'd imagine it makes you proud of your homeland too :)

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    1. That's true and makes you think a lot more about what makes you British!

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    1. Don't they just?! Can't imagine how much time went into doing all the icing.

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    1. Thanks - have a few more lined up too!

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  10. I loved reading this, Rachael! And I definitely need to have authentic fish and chips now. NOM NOMS!

    ♥ laura
    the blog of worldly delights
    the shop of worldly delights

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    1. They are the best - especially if you can ever eat them by the seaside - perfect English meal!

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  11. Rachael, your post really made me laugh.
    For the last 2 weeks, since arriving in Canada I have got way too excited over the sight of a Union Jack, hunted for PG Tips (literally hunted), converted everything into pounds and described myself as coming from London rather than the village in the South East as it's so much easier!

    Lauren x

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    1. I know how you feel! They've moved some of the English branded tea bags out of the "British" section of the store over with the American brands lately here. Made my day!

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  12. A great post and I did smile at some of the things... when I first moved to the UK from South Africa, I would make similar comparisons (back to the country I had left). I stopped doing it though after a while, so I suppose that shows I am really settled here :-)

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    1. I don't know if I'll stop doing it, with moving I feel more patriotic to my country then I've ever been and I'm proud at being English and noticing the differences/similarities. Plus I'm naturally nosy so it amuses me!

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  13. Love this! BBC2 is fab, we listen to it every morning for an hour on the way to work. If we moved abroad we would miss it as it's part of our daily routine.

    I bet it's great when you hear another English accent when you're out and about :)

    xx

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    1. I normally get to hear the second half of the Jeremy Vine show through to the end of the drive time that normally covers most of my morning when I'm messing around on the computer. American radio just doesn't compare at all!

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  14. Love the comparisons posts!

    Love, Elizabeth xx

    http://butterflyboo.blogspot.co.uk/

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  15. I've always, always wanted to live in America but the things you list here do make me very happy to be British - particularly proper fish & chips :D

    Becky @ life.style.flash. x

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  16. I think I would be obsessed with converting prices in my mind just to see how much it would cost in the UK! xxx

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  17. These are so true! I describe Suffolk as "you know that kind of butt shaped part? It's in the middle of that" teehee!!

    http://sherbetandsparkles.wordpress.com/

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