Top 10 differences from the UK to the USA…

10 Aug

Originally published on the ModLife blog, 10th Aug 2009, during my work experience at And one year on, I will share it here…

(Image found at

1. The language: lexicon, accent, spelling, tone, semantics. You say zucchini, I say courgette. You say sidewalk, I say pavement. You say bangs, I say fringe. This could go on and on, and to be honest, it does. Let’s just call the whole thing off.

2. Choice. There is so much choice in everyday life here in America, it’s overwhelming. It’s like Tom Hanks says in You’ve Got Mail: “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee.” I can’t make those kind of snap decisions. I always come out with a plain bagel, plain coffee, and no dressing on my salad. It’s just easier that way.

3. Traditions. American’s don’t do Sunday roasts or have Christmas crackers. Brits don’t do Thanksgiving.

4. Drinking. I am 20 years old and have been legally allowed to drink back home for over 2 years. As you all know, the USA bans drinking for anyone under 21. Also, people often bring your drinks to you in the States, which doesn’t happen quite so much back home. There is a certain novelty in having to queue to get to the bar, and as helpful as it is to be waited on, it always seems to involve a lot of maths (or ‘math’) at the end of the night here, which is tough for those under the influence.

5. The Clothes.

UK: Vest………….USA: Tank
UK: Waistcoat…. USA: Vest
UK: Pumps……….USA: Keds
UK: Trousers…….USA: Pants
UK: Pants…………USA: Panties
UK: Jumper……..USA: Sweater
The sizing methods are baffling as well.

6. Sporting culture. As Gloria in the 80s cult classic movie White Men Can’t Jump told us, “Sometimes when you win, you really lose.” Apparently, however, in American sporting culture, you never ‘tie’, as it’s an unacceptable outcome here. Coming from 20 years supporting a mediocre football (’soccer’) team, I have come to accept that sometimes a 0-0 draw is all that we’re capable of, and I don’t mind that. But after going to my first ‘ball game’ last week and seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates win (which is apparently pretty rare in itself), I found that drawing isn’t an option here.

7. The Food. I’m not complaining or blaming the country – and to be honest I’m kind of relishing in it at the moment – but the portions here are huge! I have a serious issue with waste and will not conceive of leaving any food uneaten, even if I hate it.  However, it is the norm to get your leftovers boxed here (an occurrence not common in England), and it’s like 3 meals in one. Awesome!

8. The satire. We as Brits are cast (often quite correctly) as cynical and pessimistic. I have found that Americans, on the contrary, are just downright friendly the majority of the time. It’s hard to always look on the bright side of life, but it happens here. In a similar way, the attitude towards work and the recognition of achievement is so much greater in the States. Americans commend trying and pursuing, while Brits often do not encourage until success has been had.

9. The Weather. I think the picture above says it all.

10. Geography. People in America don’t think anything of driving two hours for a day out, or five for a weekend away. Maybe this is a family thing, but embarking on a four-hour trip to Scotland was ALWAYS such an ordeal back home in the UK.

Is there anything about your culture that you think is particularly odd? Anything about the UK you miss or love? Or even anything you’d like to know about the UK?


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