The U.S. and the U.K.: They Are More Different Than Just One Letter

March 27, 2017

By Rose Impagliazzo
Student at the University of Pittsburgh who is studying and interning in London for the semester

  |  I’ve decided that I’m going to shake things up and this week my blog will be a little different. Instead of writing about my past week, I’m going to make a list of a few things that are different between the United States and the United Kingdom that I’ve noticed since being here.

1. American Movies That I Didn’t Expect Would Do Well in Other Countries

— There are ads for Jackie and Patriots Day. I wouldn’t expect that movies that are “so American” to have large ads in the Tube or on the side of double-decker buses.
— In a movie store, I also saw American Sniper and that movie screams patriotism more than anything.

2. Orange Juice Machines

— This one is a little strange but I think it’s worth saying. Especially when I first arrived, I saw these large and elaborate orange juicers in all the small cafes. They sit behind the counter, have huge wire baskets on top to hold the oranges, and take up so much room. It’s not that I have a secret hatred for fresh squeezed orange juice, it was just weird to see these contraptions in every café we waltzed into.

3. The Pavement Is Chaos

— When my friends and I arrived, we made the conscious effort to walk on the left side of the pavement (sidewalk) thinking that since in the U.K. they drive on the left side, they must also walk on the left side. We thought wrong. There is no designated side that people walk on so you spend practically your entire commute dodging people left and right.
— The only time people care what side you are on is on the tube escalators. You can only stand on the right side and if you get in the way of people running on the left, you will be mowed down.

4. A Person’s Inclination to Look Left Before Crossing the Street

— This one is pretty self-explanatory. We are just thankful that most crosswalks have paint on the road that tells you whether to look left or look right. I’m guessing there have been quite a few “5th Ave.” type situations with tourists in London before.

5. Eggs

— The grocery stores keep eggs on the shelves and not in the fridge. Up until this point in my life I just assumed eggs were like milk and would go bad if not kept in the fridge. Eggs sitting on a shelf is something so small but it’s just so odd. And my boss says that a lot of people put them in the fridge after buying them! Why don’t you just keep them in the fridge?!?

6. Cops Don’t Carry Guns

— This is something else that has just never occurred to me. There is no right to bear arms in London, so their cops don’t need to carry guns. I have such a hard time seeing police officers as authority figures. I can’t picture them being able to keep us safe in an emergency situation without any guns.

7. The Cleanliness of the City

— The three cities in the U.S. that I have the most experience in are Pittsburgh, Philly, and New York. Not exactly cities in the most pristine condition. So it is incredibly strange to see a city that is so well kept, especially since bins (trash cans) hardly exist here. In the U.S. there are trashcans on every street corner in every city. Here, one time I had to carry an apple core for about five blocks before I found a trash can and I’m pretty sure I only found one because we were outside of a tube station.

— Street cleaners also work all day here. These people go around the streets and tubes picking up any trash. Sometimes they are even equipped with giant outdoor vacuums. Then the big actual street cleaners go around every night.

8. The Diversity

— Coming to London, I expected to be walking down the street hearing some thick, stereotypical British accents. However, it is quite the opposite. A fact that we have heard time and again since being here is that “there are over 300 languages spoken in the city of London.” This city is so diverse. During your commute, you could hear no British accents, let alone English at all.

9. Smoking

— It seems as though everyone here smokes. There is no stigma around smoking like there is in the U.S. It is incredibly popular for restaurants, bars, and pubs to have outside seating and even in the freezing cold people still use it so they can sit and eat and smoke.

10. Dogs Are Never on Leashes

— For some reason, every dog here seems so well trained. No owner ever has their dog on a leash. Even when walking through busy streets and hopping on and off the tube, these dogs are leash-less. But they stay so close to their owner and never stray or bark.

I’m going to stop at 10 since this blog is already a bit longer than I was expecting it to be. But basically, I’ve learned London is different than the U.S. Who knew?

About the Author

Rose Impagliazzo is sharing her experiences and travels while abroad. She’s a student at the University of Pittsburgh and studying with an international program named CAPA. She’s in London for about four months taking classes and working at an internship. You can follow her blog here.

By Kids Do the City--A Teen Travel Blog

Kids Do the City is teen and tween travel blog. Teens and tweens who like to travel share their tips and adventures with other teens and tweens who travel.