Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Cultural Differences Between England and America

My posts seem to be getting progressively deeper and more intense, so I thought I'd lighten the tone a little with some funny gifs, in an attempt to show the cultural differences I have found while studying abroad.

Humour: when I make a sarcastic joke, no one finds it funny here.

British love of tea: Americans don't fix their problems with cups of tea

Portions of food: everything I know about how the size of meals and courses in England is irrelevant here.
Ordering a 'light salad' and being presented with a bucket size bowl of infinity can be quite a surprise

Money: rather than the Chip&Pin system we have in Europe, America uses a Swipe&Sign system instead. In addition, dollar bills and American coins all look too similar to me. I still embarassingly have to ask the cashier to help me go through my purse, because "I still haven't learnt the money".

When people ask you "how you doin'?", they don't actually want you to tell them how you're doing. Which incidentally is uncannily similar to the London "Alright?"
The correct way of responding to "How you doin'?" would be: "Hey. How you doin'?"

American's don't binge drink from 6pm on Friday evening until 4am on Sunday morning.

Binge drinking is for alcoholics and the homeless, not for 18 year olds and university students.

 The sheer size of everything here: shops, roads, cars, houses, malls, highways, cities... everything
You can go to a shop and buy bananas and bikes under the same roof if you want to here!

I get strange looks when I ask where the "toilet" is.
The correct term here would be "restroom" or "bathroom"
Perceptions of distance and time. At home in England, an old building is around 1,000 years old, in America an old building can be around 100 years old. Furthermore, driving 100 miles in England is an exceptionally long way to drive, whereas in America 100 miles is relatively close.

Hearing words like 'bangs', 'bleachers', 'cell phone', 'co-ed', 'eggplant', 'chips', 'sidewalk'
Momentary confusion before sudden realisation

Pants vs Trousers: no one says trousers in America and pants don't mean underwear
The confusion and horror when someone mentions my "pants"


  1. a few things i feel i should mention...

    in response to the binge drinking comment: some americans do! Unfortunately (fortunately?) for you, Goucher Students tend not to as much. However, I can assure you that binge drinking is also ascribed to students in the US, its just slightly more complicated because half of the University age population is not legally allowed to. But i assure you it happens elsewhere.

    The phrase "you alright?" was the most confusing part of my time in England!! Here that question is associated with an actual concern for someones wellbeing, as in "you dont look so good, are you alright?" Every time someone asked me that I never knew how to respond, many times i was caught of guard and ended up saying something like "yeah! of course! why?" Anyway, i feel you pain on the "how you doin?" thing.

    Pants vs Underwear
    when i was living with a host family in Chester and working on a farm i had designated a pair of jeans for farm work, and a pair that were clean (by comparison), before leaving for a weekend trip at the last minute i realized i was still in my work jeans. I turned to my 15 year old host brother and said "oh wait just one minute, i'm just gonna run and change my pants really quick" to which he responded "okay too much information." i didnt realize the confusion until like 5 hours later at which point it was too late and would have been too awkward to clear it up.

    Long story short, cultural differences, they exist and often result in some of the funniest memories. Hope you're enjoying them!

  2. Strangely it looks like not much has changed since the 80s - from pants to portion sizes. I remember pretty much all of that, except that binge drinking wasn't such a problem at home... and I also remember being confused by the London "all right?" and mistakenly thinking that someone was enquiring after my health. Oh and there's another one - it's enquiry at home and inquiry in the US - or was it the other way around...?