Friday, 6 May 2011

Some cultural differences…

Now when you bear in mind that most of us have grown up watching The Cosby Show, Roseanne, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, The Simpsons etc., one would think that there aren’t that many things that would be a surprise about day to day living in the US.

You’d be wrong.

Here are my top ten favourites:

1. Please exit the bus via the rear door – can you imagine London bus drivers being calm about people ignoring the rules? Me neither. It’d be carnage. San Franciscans board and depart buses wherever they want. Sometimes they walk past the driver and not pay.Sometimes they bring all their worldly belongings onto the bus in a nicked shopping trolley. I find this fascinating.

2. Whilst we’re on the subject of transport, most American drivers don’t know how to use a fast lane properly on the freeway. Like Southend wide boys, they sit in the passing lane getting on everyone’s nerves until you either have to undertake or accept driving at their speed.

3. Pieces of A4 paper have three holes in not 2 or 4. All those notepads I stole from work are completely worthless…

(I would like to point out that all notepads I own were bought and paid for by me, not thieved from the office).

4. To bring / to take seem relatively interchangeable. Which is confusing.

5. Milk doesn’t have the skimmed/semi-skimmed distinctions, instead they grade by fat content. We were out for breakfast, I ordered tea and had to ask for milk. The waitress pointed out the coffee creamer, so I asked again for milk. She asked me if I wanted 2%. I looked like a numpty foreigner when I replied ‘Can I have some milk please?’…

6. Packing brown paper bags with shopping is a very different skill to those previously acquired at Tesco. A skill it’s fair to say I don’t have. The checkout assistants must have been very good at Tetris. I take my hat off.

7. Asking for a Jack and Coke in a bar gets you what you ask for, rather than a Coke with Jack, which is what I’m used to drinking. Consequently, it only takes three of these free-poured drinks until I lose the ability to speak. Luckily enough I have a sensible boyfriend who has taught me how to order it properly.

Sensible or had enough of my drunken ramblings?

8. Moving the car for street cleaning – once a week or so, one side of the road gets swept. If you leave your car there you get a ticket. So lots of people have to move their cars from one side of the road to the other for a few nights a week. Which I think is a good, if confusing, idea.

9. Coins basically mean nothing and are a pain in the arse. Unless you go to a laundrette. All I appear to be doing is accumulating them.

10. Like in Wayne’s World, we have a clap on clap off light. This isn’t really a cultural difference, I was just excited by it and wanted to share…

Laters dude, I’m totally stoked, it’s been rad chatting with you…


  1. Commenting about the fast lane difference... I find this to mainly be a NorCal annoyance as it pisses me off! I rarely find it happening everywhere else I've ever driven. And yes, you're right, coins mean you save them up and cash them in at the bank for real money (aka paper money). And those tickets you speak of, they are expensive!

  2. What's with the three holes in paper?!