10 things I wish I knew before coming to the UK
So, I’m starting a new series. I’m going to post a “10 Things” post. Everything from 10 things I wish I knew (like today) to 10 things I’m wishing for to 10 really great books I’ve read. The possibilities are endless!
For now, I’m kicking it off with (in no particular order)….
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming to the UK
1. Everyone smokes and apparently it’s no big deal.
I mean everyone. Cute mothers pushing babies in strollers (also called “buggies” or “prams”), 12-year-old girls sitting outside stores and everyone walking down the street. I guess I hadn’t realized due to all the smoking bans and laws in place at home that smoking has become a bit of a taboo thing. Not the case here.
2. Drink sizes are WAY different.
As in, the “veinte” at Starbucks (hello, 20 ounces!) is smaller. There is no such thing as a fountain drink or free refills. Bottles are teeny. Cups are teeny. How do these people stay hydrated, or over-caffeinated?!
3. Everyone dresses to impress. All. The. Time.
I am not kidding and wish I was. For this girl, who loves to rock a t-shirt and jeans every day, it has been tough to keep up with the super trendy British chicks. I have yet to see a British girl wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt, a hoodie or even sneakers. It’s always skinny jeans, shorts with leggings, cute dresses, oversize sweaters that look perfectly thrown together, flawless makeup and perfectly mussed hair. Boys aren’t even allowed into bars if they’re wearing Converse. It’s crazy.
4. The coins are confusing.
At home, I’d be pretty embarrassed to pay for a $5 item in coins. But here, it’s no big deal. That’s because there is a £2 coin, a £1 coin, 50 pence coin, 20 pence coin, 10 pence coin, five pence coin and the one pence coin, called the penny. So if something cost £5, you can pay for it with three coins. Even though I’ve been here for almost a month, I still find myself holding up the line at the checkout counting out all the coins. I think it’s because their five pence coin is the size of our dime, so I always get tripped up thinking I’m counting tens when I’m counting fives. What a bother.
5. People think we are Canadian.
Apparently the only people who sound like Americans are Canadians. And apparently Canadian visitors are more common than American ones, at least in Worcester. Everywhere we go we get asked, “Oh my gosh, are you Canadian?” When we respond, “No, American,” they say, “Oh yeah, that makes sense. Canadians are way louder.” Whatever that means.
6. They have never heard of Modern Family.
There are no words for this one.
7. Even though they speak English, we can only understand them half the time.
I thought it wouldn’t be any trouble to get used to the slang terms they use. Um, wrong. Even though our languages are technically the same, it’s really hard to follow along when people are speaking here. There are so many slang words and terms that I am unfamiliar with. And the reverse is true as well. When a cashier asks if I need a receipt and I say, “I’m good,” they stare at me blankly.
8. They have very different ideas on travel.
For example, when we said we were going to Edinburgh, a 4 1/2 hour train trip, people were amazed. “You’re going ALL the way to Edinburgh for the weekend?” was the response. To us, four hours is no big deal. You can drive four hours and not even get from the north end of Indiana to the south end. I thought in a country this small people would be way more apt to travel more frequently. Not true at all.
9. They really love their queen.
That’s fine with me, I’m obsessed with their royal family as well.
10. They have good design everywhere.
I mean REALLY good. And it’s EVERYWHERE. It’s going to be hard to go home to Indiana where we have town names in comic sans on the water towers ;)
Valerie Carnevale | Graphic Designer, Photographer
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