So with my time this trip more than half over, (a fact I’m trying to not think that much about), there’s been a few things I’ve noticed that are different from back home in the US….
…..and not just how the money looks different or how they drive on the wrong side of the road, or how their electrical plugs look way bigger than they need to be… (Don’t forget those plug converters!).
People are going to ask you where you’re from. Sounding different is going to attract some notice, and it’s usually the easiest thing to say ‘America’ and not be more specific unless there’s a follow up question, since most people here are not going to know where Ohio is on a map anymore than some people in Ohio might…
The driving on the wrong side of the road thing isn’t as weird as you’d think. Sure, it’s a bit strange to start… all the turns are from the wrong side… and roundabouts….. wha? And as I’m not the one driving, it makes it a bit easier, but after a while, it’s become like everything else… after a week or two you lose the feeling that you should be in the other lane…..
Be prepared to walk. People do have cars and drive, but get used to walking more, because parking is always something to contend with. Trains and buses are an option too, and since I’m used to trains being something that are only there to haul coal and such around, taking the train is still pretty fun.
…. and a small umbrella becomes pretty essential after a while too….
Apparently heating pads aren’t a common thing. Went looking for one, and the sales person gave me a very confused look….
Get to know what the coins look like… and get a wallet with a zipper part… because you will end up carrying around a lot of change. I’ve been here more than a month, and already have a small, yet growing, pile of change that won’t fit into my wallet…
Some foods are not a big thing here…. like pretzels… or a whole section in the grocery store dedicated to ‘throw in the the microwave’ type of meals.. or Hot Pockets… or Pizza Rolls… but the argument could be made that one shouldn’t be eating that sorta food anyway. You can find things such as Oreo’s, sure… but don’t expect to find the Godzilla sized pack that is meant for a family of 4…. and forgetting about leggo-ing any Eggo’s….. frozen waffles are nowhere in site either…. or Ranch flavored anything really…
….. luckily I was able to find my much loved A1 sauce, even if it meant taking a trip into London and a special American food store to find it….
There are so many more commercials here asking to save polar bears and snow leopards and to help bring water and blankets to people without than in the US, where it’s all advertisements for shopping and cars and salesalesales! … (although I am getting rather tired of the one here with the man with the spiral mustache who’s telling you to go to his website to compare prices for heating… or whatever it is)…. There’s definitely more ads for online sites with catchy names… like moonpig.com and funkypigeon.com when it’s not an ad for life insurance or for whatever PPI is….
Bring. Your. Own. Shopping. Bags! For anyone used to shopping in the US, they give plastic shopping bags hand over fist…. not so here. Either come prepared, buy the ones they’ve got there… and remember… don’t buy more than you can carry…
If you don’t already know how centimeters relate to inches… or how many grams in a pound… or don’t know how Celsius relates to Fahrenheit, then be prepared with Google ahead of time…. (and knowing what the current £ to $ rate is a handy thing to know too)…
….. and remember the dates are differently laid out too…. It’s DAY/MONTH/YEAR…. not MONTH/DAY/YEAR….. So today looks like it’s the second of April for a moment until I remember where I am… and most things (like our microwave for one) run on 24 hour time too, so subtracting 12 after noon has been a skill worth developing….
Write things down! If you’re planning to come back… like I am, and you’ve found you’ve forgotten things, or aren’t finding things you know are easy enough to find at home and bring with you next time… write it down before you forget… since I’m sure there’ll be things I’ll have forgotten all about when I get back home to pick up before my next trip here….
I’m sure there’s other things I’ve learned in my time here, but as I can’t remember any of them, that’s one reason why the last tip of writing things down got included….
More words later!