Six Months On: Things I’ve Learned

So I’ve been here for over six months now, and I’d like to think I’ve learned something from this experience besides just educational material. Over the last week I’ve been thinking about the little things learned, and have created a running list. Some of these things might be particular to living in Leicester, and some are just from life experiences as a 25 year old. These are generally things I would like to post on here, but didn’t really take up enough space to warrant an entire blog post. In no particular order, I give you 50 of my probably odd observations since moving here.

  1. It’s warmer in England after it’s rained or about to rain. The clouds really do keep the warmth in during the colder months.
  2. If you aren’t being teased by those around you on a daily basis, you aren’t really friends. If they’re being super polite, you’ve done something terribly wrong.
  3. Sunlight is your friend. You will become like a cat, lazing about in any sunbeams you can find or crossing the street to walk on the sunny bit.
  4. You don’t realise how lazy you are until you don’t have a car.
  5. Hugs are important.
  6. Good shoes are worth the cost when you’ve walked through three cheap pairs in three months. Your pinky toes will thank you as well.
  7. Jackets and coats with good hoods are far superior to umbrellas.
  8. You will not find American levels of enthusiasm in shops and restaurants and when you do, you should be alarmed.
  9. Make an effort to blend in to the culture, but don’t try to fit in. You will always be marked as an other.
  10. Enunciate! You may think a standard American accent is very easy to understand, but many will argue with you on that. Be prepared to use different terms to get a point across.
  11. Don’t bother explaining you aren’t a tourist and actually live in the country right now. Nobody will believe you or particularly care.
  12. Buying domestic stamps while American confuses the post office staff most of the time. Why are you sending letters and cards from one English city to another?
  13. Everyone will always assume you need to have football specified as soccer in every conversation.
  14. You will still try to say pants, fries, and chips on occasion, even when you know better.
  15. Everyone will assume as an American that you understand all of English social norms. You will not. Be prepared to get exasperated expressions and sighs.
  16. Try any food offered to you at least once.
  17. Once weaned off ultra processed American foods, your stomach will try to stage a revolt when you try to eat anything similar again. Also, you really will feel better.
  18. You will still learn and/or teach country-specific idioms to each other, even six months on.
  19. Taxis will always try to take you on the most circuitous route possible. You will have to sometimes give directions to remind them that you do, in fact, live here.
  20. If you lived in a lot of states growing up, pick your favourite and stick to it. You will be asked which state you are from on a regular basis. Or give a different one each time.
  21. No one will know where your state is unless it’s New York, Texas, Florida, or California. Even then, do not expect them to know where the city is located in the state.
  22. Generally no one will be so rude as to throw US stereotypes at you, though perhaps when they think you aren’t listening or don’t know you’re American yet. However, the stereotypes, while abrasive at times, are generally pretty accurate. If they don’t directly apply to you, then someone you personally know probably does fit the bill.
  23. English essay styles are not the same as in the states. Get an English proofreader to help you.
  24. Do not try to keep pace drinking with the locals. You will lose.
  25. When asked to say an “American” word, fanny pack always makes people laugh.
  26. The people here (excluding the suits) generally don’t dress smarter per se, as much as they don’t wear many jeans.
  27. The locals will not care as much about Roman ruins as you will. These are just a fact of life for them.
  28. Portable USB chargers are a godsend and you should always have one on you if you have a smartphone.
  29. From what I can guess, anything under 65 F (18 C) is too cold and anything over 85 F (29 C) is too hot.
  30. People will look at you with pity if you are outside in less than 18 C without a coat. The look will turn to confusion when they see you have sandals on.
  31. The only strangers that will come up and randomly talk to you are as follows: sweet old ladies, crazy people, people working in public service (ticket inspectors, community support), panhandlers, and drunks.
  32. Drunk English behave like sober Americans in terms of friendliness.
  33. What constitutes a long drive is very dependant on where you live.
  34. Trust nothing when someone says they’re cooking something. It’s probably not what you’re expecting, though it will probably be delicious.
  35. If you don’t specify, asking for a brand of alcoholic beverage will get you a full pint. You have to ask for a half pint to get one.
  36. You will become oddly defensive about places and things that you would be mocking back at home. It’s like the little brother syndrome – “only I get to tease my little brother, not you!”
  37. The US is so deprived of cheese varieties.
  38. The locals will not understand your reasoning or logic in what you take photos of.
  39. There are such things as urban foxes and you will always be excited to see one in real life.
  40. Hedgehogs are as cute as you hope they will be, rooting around in the front garden.
  41. Hang drying clothes is a way of life, even when you have access to a dryer.
  42. There are no paper towels in the public bathrooms. There are also no electrical plugs in the private bathrooms besides a special one for electric razors.
  43. There are no screens on windows. You open the windows and you will get insects in the house. On the upside, mosquitos are next to nonexistent. On the downside, wasps are not.
  44. You will get x’s at the end of texts and emails from SO’s, good friends, and family. Like, every single text and email. You will be asked why you aren’t sending them back. You will possibly upset someone with a lack or surplus of x’s. You will finally get used to it and then accidentally put them on texts and emails to people back in the US. They will be incredibly confused. The cycle will continue.
  45. There is something in this country that can make even the cheeriest people crack and grumble. I can’t place exactly what it is. Some people will fight the urge. Some will embrace it. It just is what it is.
  46. You will sometimes feel the urge to refuse to do something differently over silly things. Whether it’s because it’s not what you’re used to or just a shift into the later 20s, I’m not sure. However, you will find yourself in an argument over whether something is really necessary to do a certain way. Be sure to apologise to these people when you realise it’s happening. They only mean the best.
  47. Calling people sir and ma’am here is generally met with horror. I’ve been told it’s far too formal. This will leave you in a bit of a lurch if you forget someone’s name or are being introduced to someone who is your social superior. Just surround yourself with doctors and professors. Those titles never seem to be frowned upon for using.
  48. I remain convinced that there are towns where half the roads are just roundabouts. Whilst horrifying at first, you start to see the logic of them after a while. You’ll also realise one day that you have started looking left-right-left before crossing traffic instead of right-left-right. You won’t be able to pinpoint when this started.
  49. Even when you comfortably know how to use them in sentences, you will always feel weird using expressly British terms like bloody, posh, or naff.
  50. You will at some point begin to apologise to inanimate objects and to people who were obviously the ones in the wrong. Just like when you shift looking before crossing the road, you won’t know when this started.

get off my doorstep we're not in america. there's nothing wrong with adopting a bit of american culture. All right get off my doorstep or i'll shoot you.


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