Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things that Grind my Gears

You may have been talking with friends earlier this week, wondering about what some of the differences are over in the UK. It could be in line for a cup of coffee or maybe out on a hospital loop run. It might be something like this:

Tanner: Hey Dan.

(Dan keeps running)

Tanner: DAN!

Dan: What?

Tanner: Do you think that Seth has a hospital loop that he runs on in England?

Dan: No, Tanner. First off, Seth hates the hospital loop in the states. Secondly, they don't call them hospitals over there, they're called "spitals". And thirdly, Seth is probably too fat to run from all the fish & chips he's been eating.

These are all valid points, but it makes more sense for me to tell you guys the differences. Here's a list of them, in no particular order.

1. Like everything else over here, the roads are smaller, often only wide enough for one car to pass through even if it's not a one-way. This causes a whole slew of problems such as ambulances trying to get to the spitals. Drivers can see an ambulance coming, but there is literally no place for them to pull over. The streets are lined with cars and they are already pulled over to let the other flow of traffic through. That's three cars trying to maneuver in a car-and-a-half space. I've never seen an emergency vehicle go over 30mph here in Exeter.

2. Police officers wear bright, neon-green jackets as their uniforms. They all remind me of crossing guards.

3. I run with this French guy who speaks ok English. He calls "workouts" training. It's a small difference, but I still get caught off guard whenever he asks me if I want to do some "training" during a run.

4. Instead of the phrase, "How are you?", they say, "Are you alright?" Again, this is a subtle difference, but any first reaction by an American would be to respond defensively. In the states, we only ask if someone is alright if we suspect that they are not well. It took about ten conversations of sheer confusion before I caught on.

5. Macaroni and cheese at it's cheapest level comes in a can. One cannot buy boxed macaroni and cheese. You can make it from scratch, purchase it frozen, from the deli, or from the can, but there is no box substitute.

6. Cookie dough and most forms of instant cookie/cake/cinnamon roll variations that you or I could find in any Walmart are nonexistent in the UK.

7. Jeggings are all the rage over here. Also fashionable: jean shorts over fishnet stockings.

8. Leaf-letting, campaigning, and all forms of annoying solicitation is a daily event here. They don't send their kids to preschool, instead they are dropped off at street corners promoting the latest charity event. This could be a city related trend, but I suspect otherwise.

9. Families have strollers here, but sometimes they are quite short or the kid is riding a tricycle low to the ground. In either case, the parent has a long handle to push their kids along. The cheaper families simply tape a 2x4 to the back of the tricycle and push them along without stooping down.

That's enough for today. I hope you guys have a good day!


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