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Monday, September 20, 2004 

List of Strange Things

This is in no way meant to be disrespectful to my new culture, just some interesting items I've come across since being here.

Strange Thing #1: People here are so nice it's almost scary!

Strange Thing #2: You have to rent your shopping cart for a pound, but you get it back after you're done.

Strange Thing #3: They call "juice," "squash!"

Strange Thing #4: It is super money being a vegetarian here!

Strange Thing #5: There are no obese people here.

Strange Thing #6: They drink Aftershock.

Strange Thing #7: The keyboards here are totally different.

Strange Thing #8: Every single slightly disparaging comment I have about London/England/British Empire, no matter what it is, is greeted each time with the following comment: Yea, but in America you're allowed to shoot each other.

Strange Thing #9: You can curse on the radio.

Strange Thing #10: There are two types of light bulbs here. And if you are unaware of this fact, and try to fit the wrong bulb in, you will short circuit your brand new lamp and cause the fuse to blow.

Strange Thing #10a: All electrical appliances have fuses, because there is enough voltage running through these old wires to kill a horse.

Strange Thing #11: Text messages in this country are the primary mode of communication.

Strange Thing #12: Men here are not afraid to admit they like sappy movies.

Strange Thing #13: The Jerry Springer Opera.

Strange Thing #14: British get far more fired up about American politics and September 11th than Americans do.

Strange Thing #15: These stamps:

Strange Thing #16: French Toast is "eggy bread." Hee hee hee. I think that's so cute it makes me giggle!

Strange Thing #17: Cops get to drive BMW cop cars!

Strange Thing #18 : The Cockney rhyming game. Goes like, "[Adjective or noun] *pause* [related noun] *pause* [unrelated noun, yet rhymes with last noun]!"

Strange Thing #19: Traffic lights go in the following order: Green, Yellow, Red, Yellow, Green, etc. This is different from American traffic lights which go: Green, Yellow, Red, Green.

Strange Thing #20: The wide range of available flavors of crisps (a.k.a. potato chips.)

Strange Thing #21: Christmas Dinners.

Strange Thing #22: They don't have dryer sheets. (Actually they do, but they are damn hard to come across.)

Strange Thing #23: I've just discovered they have a Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the British Cabinet.

Strange Thing #24: No Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Strange Thing #25: Serious lack of decent Mexican food.

Strange Thing #26: Fee-less ATMs (or cashpoints or hole-in-the-walls as they are called here.)

Strange Thing #27: The worthless strip of tape that holds bread bags "closed."

Strange Thing #28: It's not "How are you?" when greeting someone, it's "You alright?"

Strange Thing #29: You are allowed to drink outside. There appears to be no public drinking laws whatsoever.

Strange Thing #30: Department meetings come fully equipped with alcohol.

Strange Thing #31: The popularity of Robbie Williams.

#32: Brown Sauce.

#33: Mother's Day is the last Sunday of Lent in the UK (falls in March) but it's the second Sunday of May in the US. But Father's Day is the third Sunday in June for both.

#34: Cricket.

#35: It's not scotch tape, it's "cello" tape.

#36: Cafes in church Crypts.

#37: The variation in daylight

#38: Occasionally the weather woman on BBC-insert-number-here announces tomorrow will be "fresher." What on Earth does this mean? Cooler? Less humid? More breezy? A tinge of yummy citrus flavor in the air? What?

#39: Different names for the same vegetables.

#40: Richard and Judy

#41: It’s not a “costume party”; they call it a “fancy dress party”!

#42: Complete and utter lack of buttermilk. (However I now know that something resembling American buttermilk is sold at Waitrose and larger Tescos. It is not exactly the same however.)

#43: British celebs are famous only in the UK

#45: The kind of schools where only the very rich attend due to the astronomical tuition and boarding fees are called "public schools."

#45: Happy Christmas! (Instead of "merry")

#46: Televised Dart Competitions

#47: Pancake Day!

#48: Big Brother popularity

#49: Ant and Dec

#50: "Whilst"

#51: "Zed" instead of "zee"

#52: They love Friends.

#53: Their love of this childhood show:

#54: The television watershed with the illicit and scandalous shows that follow soon after.

#55: Two different definitions for the word, "billion"!

#56: The Eurovision Song Contest.

#57: Insistence on using the word 'autumn' and refusal to recognize my use of the word 'fall'.

#58: Washing machines in the kitchen.

you have to come to mexio if you are looking for strange things... here is surealistic!!! so fun!...an american friend just came 2 weeks ago and was like "wow" all time! very different of what he did think about mexico before comming. anyway...London is GREAT!

Actually, British traffic lights go Red - Red & Amber - Green - Amber - Red. If you think about it you can work out why.

Also, we are not really nice. We just do that to freak you out. Like the accent - you don't think we speak like that among ourselves do you?

We found lots of those things weird too, having just come from Australia. Other weird things include: having to pay council tax, the amazing lack of reliability of the trains (and people's acceptance of it), people's preoccupation with the weather, ale, and the extreme bureaucracy. It's excellent being this close to the rest of Europe though - it's hard to decide where to visit next.

As far as I'm aware, and someone may prove me wrong, London is the only underground system in the world not to have any litter bins. Despite this fact, it is still relatively clean.

We may not do Mexican food like they do in America, but the range of international cuisine is phenomenal - in Islington you can get Moroccan, Brazilian, Lebanese, Turkish and Vietnamese to name but a few...

Strange Thing #3: They call "juice," "squash!"

Not quite - squash is nasty plastic juice substitute. Actual fruit juice is fruit juice, and if you go to the right supermarket it even comes from Minute Maid :-)

If you made it to Dundee on your travels around Scotland, you'd have found a part of the UK where drinking in public is illegal, carrying a hefty fine.

If you're still struggling with UK keyboards, I actually have a spare US one around here somewhere - although I can hop between the two quite easily now.

Strange Thing #1: Funny, I always thing Americans are scarily nice and British people are rude. Not as rude as the French, though...

Strange Thing #2: That's to stop people nicking them. Shopping trolley theft is a major crime over here, along with watching "Hollyoaks".

Strange Thing #3: Um, I call it "juice" actually. It depends where you live. They call it "pop" in the Midlands.

Strange Thing #4: Err, I dunno - I guess. *shrug*

Strange Thing #5: Well, there are - just not to the same degress of lardiness as your crop.

Strange Thing #8: That's shockingly unoriginal. I can think of dozens of far more disparaging comebacks.

Strange Thing #10a: Why "old" wires - do you think they're like the sewers and date from Victorian times?

Strange Thing #14: I think it's more a national fear that the moron you call President is the most powerful man on the planet.

Strange Thing #17: They drive Skodas and knackered old Peugeots here.

Strange Thing #19: It took me ages to work out you can turn right through a red light in your country. Brilliant idea, we should do that! (Left, though - not right...)

Strange Thing #22: What's a dryer sheet?

Strange Thing #23: Yeah, I wonder what she does all day.

Strange Thing #24: Well, you don't celebrate St George's day or the Queen's birthday, so touche.

Strange Thing #25: *cough* you call Taco Bell decent Mexican food?

#34: Baseball

#35: Sellotape, actually. Brand name.

#40: Jay Leno

There used to be litter bins on the Underground (tube / subway) but they were all removed some time ago to minimise (minimize) the hiding places for bombs. Sad but true.
Julie. Hertfordshire.

Strange Thing #3: They call "juice," "squash!"

Juice is Juice, Coridial is A.K.A. Squash this needs water adding and fizzy drinks are called POP. As in a Can of POP, this might be a midlands and northern thing though.

Strange Thing #4: It is super money being a vegetarian here!

It's super money doing anything compared to the U.S.

Strange Thing #5: There are no obese people here.

Are you sure? Look again, they are on the increase.

Strange Thing #6: They drink Aftershock.

You guys drink St Stans and Rolling Rock, enough said.

Strange Thing #7: The keyboards here are totally different.

You keyboards are different, but not totally different. Actually UK and US are quite simular compared with the other keyboards around. French use the AZERTY layout, what's that all about.

Strange Thing #8: Every single slightly disparaging comment I have about London/England/British Empire, no matter what it is, is greeted each time with the following comment: Yea, but in America you're allowed to shoot each other.

Personally i just use the old "We have history in the country" line, anything over 50 years old is historical in the US.

Strange Thing #9: You can curse on the radio.

And on T.V. we also are not to bothered about nudity on T.V. America has a lot of religous people in high places that tend to stop you guys having access to this. But hey you can still Shoot each other...

Strange Thing #10: There are two types of light bulbs here. And if you are unaware of this fact, and try to fit the wrong bulb in, you will short circuit your brand new lamp and cause the fuse to blow.

There are actually several types but the main 3 are...

Hallogen, Bayonet and Screw.

Strange Thing #10a: All electrical appliances have fuses, because there is enough voltage running through these old wires to kill a horse.

It's not the voltage it's the amps that kill you. We only use twice the volts you guys use, most PSU's are switchable.

Strange Thing #11: Text messages in this country are the primary mode of communication.

Because mobile phones were expensive when they first started over here and sending txt's was cheap. Now calls are cheap enough but some things just linger on...

Strange Thing #14: British get far more fired up about American politics and September 11th than Americans do.

Which is why you guys voted bush into power, maybe you guys should pay more attention.

Strange Thing #16: French Toast is "eggy bread." Hee hee hee. I think that's so cute it makes me giggle!

I thought french toast was when you just toasted one side, i have also seen dried toast sold in supermarkets as french toast. Some places even call fried bread (With no egg) french toast. Depends where you go.

Strange Thing #17: Cops get to drive BMW cop cars!

As opposed to Dodge Vipers... They also get to drive Clios too, it depends where you are.

Strange Thing #20: The wide range of available flavors of crisps (a.k.a. potato chips.)

Yeah and Chips are actually fries, and we call fries French Fries even though they are american imports...

Strange Thing #21: Christmas Dinners.

Thanksgiving Dinners!

Strange Thing #22: They don't have dryer sheets. (Actually they do, but they are damn hard to come across.)

Ah you mean stuff like BOUNCE, i think it was because we realised we were being conned as it is pretty much usless... You guys still drink Dansani (By Coke) even though we realised it was just tap water...

Strange Thing #24: No Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Strange Thing #25: Serious lack of decent Mexican food.

You mean you can get decent mexican food?

Strange Thing #26: Fee-less ATMs (or cashpoints or hole-in-the-walls as they are called here.)

Pay to take out your own money? They did try and we yet again realised we were being conned and that went out the window. Although you can find machines in pubs and small stores where you have to pay should you wish too.

Strange Thing #27: The worthless strip of tape that holds bread bags "closed."

Sometimes it's a plastic clip, depends on the brand.

Strange Thing #28: It's not "How are you?" when greeting someone, it's "You alright?"

Depends where you are from.

Strange Thing #29: You are allowed to drink outside. There appears to be no public drinking laws whatsoever.

This is not true, most places you will get an on the spot fine and your drinks will be disposed of, usually down the closest drain.

Strange Thing #30: Department meetings come fully equipped with alcohol.

Do they? Depends where you work but this is not the normal way of doing things.

Strange Thing #31: The popularity of Robbie Williams.

That puzzles me too...

#32: Brown Sauce.

Soon to made abroad....

#34: Cricket.

Baseball (Rounders)

#35: It's not scotch tape, it's "cello" tape.

Wrong... Sellotape is a brand name and is applied to all generic versions of it. Scotch tape the none transparent stuff is scotch tape and is different.

#38: Occasionally the weather woman on BBC-insert-number-here announces tomorrow will be "fresher." What on Earth does this mean? Cooler? Less humid? More breezy? A tinge of yummy citrus flavor in the air? What?

Fresher tends to mean colder, usually because there will be a stronger breeze.

#40: Richard and Judy

No comment...

#43: British celebs are famous only in the UK

Not really true, we have international stars too. Just they might not be famous in the U.S. there is still the rest of the world you know.

#46: Televised Dart Competitions

Monster Trucks????

#47: Pancake Day!

#48: Big Brother popularity

The Real World ???

#49: Ant and Dec

Powell and Bush

about drinking outside: usually it's allowed, but now there are "alcohol restriction zones" in a lot of places (there are signs up in these areas warning you), and if the police catch you drinking in those zones they can confiscate your drink and fine you.

London Monica! That was wicked!

I like to apologise on behalf of my country - Britain - who cannot take a joke (we could once now it's prob not very PC). Please if you think of anymore - do post them up and I got to you via Tuckmac who's my great American friend.

Thanks again and I'm very, very sorry


geez dont take things so seriously...emy got it...it's called JOKING...maybe you should also try it someday.

I am heading to London soon for the first time.

No decent Mexican food? I can do without it. But since I am a vegetarain the rumors of boiled meats and bangers being an Brittish staple have me nervous.....

No worries, it's far better to be a vegetarian in London than anywhere I've been to in America. It's quite awesome actually, and I prefer it here on that accord.

Of course its better to be a vegetarian here than anywhere else in the world - its the only chance you people have to eat something healthy, not breaded and then deep fried in animal fat!! Or slathered in butter or wrapped in ham. Get a clue, Britain is about 30 years behind America in terms of healthy food (and don't start with McDonald's as most educated people in the US never would step foot into one). Look up the "California" movement in cuisine and you'll see that healthy, low-carbohydrate, grilled, and vegetable intensive foods are so much more popular in the US than here. Enjoy your potatoes and butter braised crap - Brits would deep fry a salad if they could....

NY subways or undergrounds have trash bins, still we prefer the floor. Also us New Yorkers consider our trains very clean, but any visitor always comments they are dirty, we have lower expectations.

Also if your tourist every one is nice to you, not so much if you live there. I wonder if that is why they are pleasant in London, also like one commenter said about English accents, when you visit NY, I for one always try and have a thicker NY accent than I usually do.

No one wears I heart NY T-shirts, Time Square has much more police than "real" NY areas, and those in the "real" areas are fat.

I am guessing the writer of this blog lived in the Midwest or south, cause no one has butter milk up here in the NY area.

Always wanted to visit London, hope my post was informative and not too distracting.

HAHAHAHA I still can't stop laughing that was pretty funny I am doing an essay on london and decided to look up strange laws in london well i certinlly found them... Hay thats not fair how come they get to curse on the radio XD...Yeah it is big money being a vegitarian there since the American econamy is in the toilet right now.

what was the kids show we loved (#53) the video doesn't work and I'm really curious

I don't like London.

People don't like the foreigners, they are so rude, racist and hypocrites (I'm not neither black nor Asian).

I have never lived so isolated and lonely in my entirely life, so depressive.

I understood why people commit suicide all the days here and why they put strange advertisements in the tube telling people not to commit suicide.

I didn't met anybody in this country who likes this country, not even the English people. And the foreigners don't like at all, all of them like so much the money, but in fact it's really hard to find a job.

In this country they have one God and it's called MONEY, they have made very big monuments that represent their unique and authentic God.

The weather is so horrible, I don't understand why people still live here, there a a lot of places really beautiful in the rest of the world, I can't understand why I decided to come here.

Considering all the horrible things that this country has, It's ridiculous that issue about immigration, if they'll inform the reality about this country to the rest of the world, I truly believe that they would stop once for all the illegal immigration. Everything it's a lie in this country.

This country is not what they show you, this country doesn't have sun, damn cold, the weather and the people are so awful.

I can't wait to finish my duties here and leave this country and try to forget their people and all what I lived here.

Wow, i was very entertained by this page until I read the one above (about hating everything about the uk and wanting to commit suicide) and now I'm really depressed. I'm so sorry you're having a horrible time here.

I'm English so I'm biased but dig a bit deeper and people ARE friendly. On the surface perhaps not but that's the old British reserve going on. Join a club, - there are hundreds on www.meetup.com so I'm sure you'll find something you're interested in! Or just go drinking after work, you're bound to bond with people then! and yes, I am fully aware of our national obsession with alcohol! It makes things seem a little brighter and less depressive so give it a go!

WE know the weather's a bit crap but you can moan about it together, that's the British obsession and once you get that then you'll feel a bit less isolated.

I wasn't aware we had a particularly high suicide rate (compared with, say, Finland), but I guess you do get held up on the tube because of it - maybe suicidal people just prefer to inconvenience other people whilst doing it than doing it in some private manner i.e. razorblade in the bath tub??? Or is it the mess that they like the sound of? Or traumatising some poor tube driver? I don't know, I expect they're not thinking straight - or just get a compulsion when they're waiting for the tube to come in...

Anyhow, what I'm trying to say is give us a chance, stick with it and you'll grow to love it (although it does sound like you have decided to hate it as much as possible and if that's the case, bugger off back to wherever you came from!). London has a lot to offer so wrap up warm, get out and enjoy it!!!

London is one of, if not the greatest cities I've ever been to. It's definitely not for everyone though: if you're helpless, miserable, wretched, racist and stupid enough not to research how cloudy it is before moving here, then by all means you won't be welcomed or make any friends. So 'bugger off' indeed!

Weird how our cultures are so closely related but so different in a lot of ways.
One thing i was confused about was when you say 'everyone here is so nice' yet you live in London. People in London are generally rude, selfish assholes who believe that no world exists outside of their smog-ridden hole.
Get yourself to the North of England. That's where all the best people come from.

Nope, not buying it. Londoners are absolutely lovely. I've yet to lug a big suitcase up a set of tube steps- some stranger always helps me!

How they treat Notherners however, is something I don't know about.

Hmmm...I generally agree with this blog. And then I read the comments...I think that london sucks, yet is wonderful! I think that if you really look hard enough it is a happy medium, not bad nor great. And just to let you know I am an American living in London and I moved here 3 years ago. When I first moved here I had the mind set that London is an awful place that rains all of the time and has no respect and then I decided that I could either think that way and be miserable or go out and see it for what it really is. And what I have come to find is that, yes, some of the people are rude(most of which I find to be the foreigners) and people are very nice and friendly! And yes, most of the time the weather sucks but you can either be depressed and complain or you can grab a coat and umbrella and go out adventuring making you time here worth while. And also, yes, it can be expensive, but hell, you only live once so stop complaining and live a little and if you don't have the money there are tons of things that don't cost money you just might have to search a bit. Enjoy London don't regret your time here, many people would kill to come!!

London is not clean but neither is New York.

I don't get Ant/Dec but neither do I get Jay Leno.

There may be a "few" different restaurants in Islington but that does not reflect all of London. Chicken Cottage, Fish and chips shops and the usual fast food junk is more indicative.

If you only knew how my life has been in London and how disappointed I'm.

I was near to commit suicide so near, I never lived so lonely in my life, the only friend that I have is my shadow.

I don't know what to do, but I still think is a good option...

i've lived here for two years and am about to move back to the US - can't wait. Anyway, I agree wtih lots of these except for number one! What part of London are you living in?!? I feel like people here are so rude they make New Yorkers (my home) look like midwesterners. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this! (I have found English people from outside England to be generally friendly-ish by comparison, though).

Well I have been here just over two years and feel the strong need to move on, either home or somewhere else in Europe. Someone described Europe as like a museum, buildings, history, culture etc. Nice to visit but you would not want to live there.

London is great(good) if you are making £50k a year, at least otherwise you are living like a pauper if you are not.

Dear "Suicidal" Anonymous,

Please don't despair.

Yes, you are right about many Londoners being rude and racist, but please remember that people are the same all over. It's our human nature--we all act badly from time to time. It's definitely not limited to London or to the UK for that matter.

As an immigrant myself, I understand the difficulties that you face, especially if English is not your first language. Believe me, there is just as much racism and other difficulties in America, maybe even more than here in some parts.

The best way to negotiate through and combat a fallen world is to share the love of God with others in a meaningful way. Turn to the only one who is always there for you--your Heavenly Father.

He has a plan for saving you and all of us from our more wretched selves. The bible says that if you believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died in place of those who are guilty of sin (everyone is guilty) to pay the just penalty for that sin, and you confess Him as Lord publicly, you will be saved in the day of judgment. We don't become good and then accept God's invitation, we accept His invitation and then He CHANGES US. If you allow Him, he will change you too. I hope that you will give Him the chance to save you. Your life is precious to Him, don't throw it away along with the life after this one.


Your Christian sister

P.S. Here is a number that you can call to talk to someone who cares. They are called the Samaritans and can help you.

08457 909090 (UK local rate) or 01603 611311

One of many things that struck me on your list was, "Washing machine in the kitchen." I live in Greece, and my friend Yannis, who lived in London for many years, put his washing machine in the kitchen and now I understand why. Most of us have them in our WC.

very interesting comments and observations from all over the world. Being British i asgree with all the ngatives and positives observed - but mostely that there is racism, rudeness and ignorance in every country in the world and what you choose to do with these people (and how much you let them get to you) is only your choice. You should not let it be the cause of your unhappiness, becuase there is way too much choice about where we live and how we behave towards others for that to make any sense whatsoever!

Fairly dissapointing, but not surprising, that anyone should choose to use this forum to push religious dogma onto those more vulnerable. Not cool.

I have lived in the UK for years on and off and actually don't think that British people are very nice at all. They are self deprecating in a race to see who is the most crap which is supposed to be endearing - god knows why. The class differences are horrendous and they are probably some of the most repressed people in the world due to the whole 'stiff upper lip' thing. No emotion - just sexual provocation. They lack good nurturing family values. Why do you think they swing so far the other direction to have virtual porn on terrestrial TV. The flats are small - no bang for your buck, and yes the lack of daylight turns the population into a bunch of morose, depressed grey slugs. It's a convenient base to get in and out of Europe and back to the States quickly but that's about it.

Good read. I'm new to the US and posted my own little list of weird things about this place. Admittedly, some points are opposite of what you wrote here.

Here's the post:

I am from london and i think its bloody fantastic. I am not wealthly or white and i still think the people great. We can be rude but so can anyone and people here tend to be pretty freienldy (sometimes too much). You can always ask for direction and someone will help. We like the Americans more than the French so count yourself lucky!

The weather can be better, but who wants boring sunshine and heat when you can have all seasons in one day :)

As for money, there are tons of places to go for free and once you get to know people they'll take you under their wing and show you real london (cheap London).

The best way to visit/ experince a city is as a local.

As for the racisim not really expereinced it and if they bark you bite back!!

Go to markets for cheap veg.

I had to say someting for London, it far to fab.

Lots of and happy discovery.


With all due respect to "anonymous"
who says "We may not do Mexican food like they do in America, but the range of international cuisine is phenomenal - in Islington you can get Moroccan, Brazilian, Lebanese, Turkish and Vietnamese to name but a few..."

Who bloody well cares? The point was that there was no decent Mexican food, not that you had nothing but icky English food, you know?

We can get all that in America, too, but, we can also get really good Mexican food, and Tex-Mex food and Cali-Mex food and it's very, very good! All of it!

Well, maybe not every dish, but all forms of Mexican.

The underground does not have litter bins due to the terrorist threats in the past.
I always laugh at foreigners that come here and criticize the place, there is no gun to there head. I am sure OZ/NZ are great places, how come half of the country is in London?
Being a Canadian I would never live in America, too many no go areas for my liking and very segragated. I love Canada but do not miss the winters, personally I love the english weather.
On the downside it is pricey and I am also addicted to the travelling.
It is funny I meet so many foreigners that live here and so many would never dream of going home.

Actually, we call cordial squash. We call juice juice.

All I can say, I never saw so many fried food places crammed together until I moved to East London! Fried chicken everywhere - gives the U.S. a serious run for its money. But at least fried chicken in the states is mad decent compared to the Halal-friendly places. I had to constantly explain what fried chicken and waffles meant...

No mexican food? That's probably cos we don't share a border with Mexico!

Are Londoners nice? Yes, but it's different culture to up north. It's a big crowded city, so everyone's more insular, quieter, and eye contact is avoided. This may seem rude to some people, but in London, being noisy, nosy and staring is seen as rude. Horses for corses, and all that...

Same thing with the stiff upper lip, repressed thing. Small crowded island= insular people- there's really no room to be over emotional. It's no coincidence that Japan is very similar.

Racism? Not that I've noticed. If you annoy someone, they'll use whatever they can to insult you- if you're foreign it just means that's what they choose to respond to you with. I'm mixed race and my boyfriend's portuguese, and neither of us have had any problems. BTW, England has the highest number of interracial/ mixed nationality relationships in the world.
Having said that, there's a lot of evidence of institutional/corporate racism. I don't know much about that, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were true...

and Suicidal Anonymous? No-one's forcing you to stay in England. If you hate it so much, why not leave? I wouldn't live abroad then complain about it- that's just rude. And if you hate the money culture so much, remind me what you're doing here in the first place? If you don't like the culture, get out. Don't insult a whole nation just because it doesn't make you personally happy.

*Rant over*
Great post btw!

Hey, cool list! I'm American, but I have spent a few months in England. I loved London, but I was shocked by how dirty it was. There were actual little piles of trash on roadsides, and the pollution was terrible! I've been to most major cities in the U.S., but I've never had black snot at the end of the day. And the buildings are black from it, too.

I live in Chicago, so I'm used to the whole GRRR attitude of cities. But somehow people just sound more irritated when they yell at you in a British accent. TV stereotypes coming through there, I bet.

When I was in London, some people who noticed me and my friend were American thought it was cute to greet us with a wave and a "Howdy." I've never heard anyone say that in America, but it was hilarious!

We also met some very nice people from Scotland when we were in Bath. They were psyched to meet Americans who lived in Chicago, for some reason. And they liked our mid-west accents, which I don't get (too bland for me, but it's mine). That was fun.

The English weren't very fond of us, but we met a lot of people from Germany who were. All in all, I love what I saw of the country. The only thing I really wasn't fond of was the food. There was this bread that was supposedly super famous, and I thought it tasted like Sara Lee - okay, but not great. And the sandwiches there have BLAND cheese and way too much butter. Blech.

On the plus side, there's a ton of history, which I love! It all came back to me from my high school history classes (we had a better history program than most).

I was surprised to see how Americanized their TV and stuff is. My friend and I tried to find some British TV to watch, but most stuff was either weird reality (like dart tournaments or Adrenaline Junkie jumping off stuff) or stuff like Turner and Hooch or Fresh Prince in German (I'm not sure how the humor gets across, there...) Sweet Home Alabama also played, and I was curious as to how the English understood the humor.

All in all, I'd love to go back and I had a blast there, pollution, rain and all. For some reason people get the idea that Americans are freaked out of weather, but it totally depends on where you're from. My home gets everything from feet of snow to feet of rain and heat in the 100s (F). So the first thing I did in London was walk four hours in pouring rain to see the city. It honestly wasn't bad. Wet, sure, but I had good shoes that kept out all the water. Cheap ones from Wal-Mart, if you can believe it.

So, great post! It brought back memories, and that was fun.


Heya. This reminds me of a friend I have in Germany. When we first met over there and I told him I was from Chicago, he was shocked that I was brave enough to live there. I since found out that he believes Chicago is exactly like it is in all those mob movies - you know, always winter and everyone always gets shot.

I tried to get him to go to Chicago when he visited my country, but he refused, convinced that he'd be shot the second he stepped foot in the city. I mean sure, that could happen in some areas, but not everywhere. I mean, the worst that happens to most tourists is they get chased by a hobo who's high off something. It's not bad - they don't run that fast. (Not joking here).

I think there are a lot of differences from culture to culture, even in the same country. I mean, Texas likes to think of itself as its own country, but whatever. I'm just glad there ARE differences - it's amazing to learn about them and experience them. I get a little tired of people bashing the U.S., but that's their prerogative.

I haven't been to or learned about a country I hated, and I really hope others are the same. Everywhere has good history and bad, nice traits and nasty ones, and it takes us all to make up the world. I love our differences and our similarities. Why would I want everywhere to be like the United States or Canada or England or Argentina or Japan, etc.? What's the point of traveling, then? What a boring world that would be.

Hope you're loving whatever country you're in,


I don't know where you went but most of the people in London are horrible.

We have Juice, it's made of real fruit. Squash is concentrate and for mixing.

Obese people in England tend to stay at home, the country's not big enough.

People don't drink aftershock, they endure it.

The keyboards are totally the same apart from maybe the " and @.

In America you're allowed to shoot each other.

You can't curse on the radio.

We have more than 2 types of bulb.

There's enough electricity to kill several horses...

The Jerry Springer Opera was probably Jerry Springer’s Idea...
and is therefore epic trash.

The fact that the British care more about American Politics than Americans is worrying.
Maybe if you cared a little more, the rest of the world wouldn't be so concerned about who you’ll bomb next.

The Police also drive subaru impretza's, VW Golfs, Vauxhall Vectras, the list goes on.

What’s strange about Christmas dinner?

For dryer sheets try any supermarkets detergent isle.

We shouldn't be reminded that black and white people were once considered different... as if black people a getting some kind of pat on the head for years of enslavement. Equality amongst men is an ideal not a holiday.

What's decent Mexican food?

There’s generally more than one way of greeting someone.

There are drinking controlled zones, and you're only allowed to drink outside an establishment if they're licensed out to the pavement (side walk?). Anywhere else is fine.

Yeah Robbie Williams fame is shocking, Boyzone we're massive in the 90's... also shocking.

Brown Sauce is strange... then again it’s French.

Mothers Day... used to be Mothering Sunday, when you'd be expected to go to your head church.
The meaning was lost... it became a day for celebrating Mum, which is probably why the days
are different between countries. Father’s Day was a later occurrence, and came from America!

Baseball... bit of a girl’s game... Also known as Rounder’s, or softball. American Football... is like softcore homoerotic S&M with helmets and pillows? Nothing in spandex is hard.

It's Parcel Tape.

There's only one Cafe Crypt... and it also feeds the homeless.

Sorry our daylight isn't consistent enough for you?!

Fresher is exactly what you believe it to be. Don't know about the Citrus bit.

If the same vegetable has two names... perhaps it's a different vegetable.

Richard and Judy.... Opera? Montel? Riki Lake? There's alot of shit on TV...
and most of it comes from the states. As for british celebrities... we're on an island
a fraction of the size of the USA... and you insist on forcing your mechanised celebrities on us.

Public School aka Private School... The name came from a time when the public we’re only recognised by their wealth. This was a time when anyone of working class wouldn’t have got an education.

Once again, there’s more than one way of saying something... I though you spoke English in America too? ‘Merry’, ‘Happy’, ‘Have a good’, ‘Hope you enjoy’... I think you understand.

Though darts may be boring as sin, for some it’s a popular pub activity and has a huge following. Much like bowls, which is also Dull. Then again you watch celebrities run around water parks in life jackets and helmets? Is that a sport, or comedy?

I know every day is Pancake Day in the USA... it’s actually called Shrove Tuesday. A day of feasting, in which the larder is emptied, ready for the Easter fast... if you’re that way inclined. I don’t know when the meaning got lost.

Big Brother is where exhibition and voyeurism collide in some freakish game show, it’s popularity is quite bizarre and proves to me that we’re all a bit kinky. To be fair even American reality TV is scripted... what social reference to reality does that give off.

Children’s TV presenters are all bread in the same lab.

Whilst what?

‘Zee’s dead baby’

I don’t love friends, it’s always on... always, there’s no escaping it... People aren’t like that. Maybe they’ve become that way after 236 episodes. I’d like to thank the team of Jews that put it together, Bright, Kauffman and Crane... well done... you’ve made a situation comedy with a catchy theme tune and fit women. I’d also like to thank them for then ramming it down our throats for several years... Oh wait no I don’t... I wish that coffee shop burnt down at the end of season one whilst they were still in there. I’m sure despite it making all of their careers they stars of friends would agree it’s stunted their personas dramatically.

As for offcom and the watershed... well... that’s the media for you. If it were up to English kids there’d be smut and violence on the TV all day long... It’s not like they actually go to sleep when they’re told, and most children’s parents let the TV raise them anyway. I know this to be true of quite a few countries.

Billion- One thousand million... the long scale is backwards confusing and is not England’s fault.

It’s not that strange. You adopted an old norse word that was popular in Britain in the 17th century. It went out of fashion here a while ago.

With more land and resources than the UK, land is cheaper, as is construction. It is common place to build residential homes predominantly out of timber over there which is all well and good as far as the price tag is concerned. Over here however land and construction is silly expensive, so building a new house isn’t something that people look into often, especially middle and lower classes. Lower classes are put into housing schemes (much like your ‘projects’) and the middle classes struggle to find a semi detached or terrace house that doesn’t require taking out a big old mortgage. If however you’re fortunate to have a utility room in your house... UK or otherwise... you can but your washing machine in there... otherwise, it’s the kitchen with the other white goods.

Did you actually talk to many English people that weren’t serving you in restaurants?

Well it seems our British friends get really defensive about there country. Despite all the negatives people still seem to flock to the place, there are lots of Americans living in London. Let alone droves of people coming from Eastern Europe and other more wrenched places.

TV in every country is shite, arguing about which country has the better programs is retarded.

The British youth do tend to eat up the American culture. I find it funny that although so many people in the UK have anti-american views they have all seem to have been to America (more than once).

Another odd statistic is the amount of British(english) people dying to leave the country for greener pastures.

Wow - lot of tension on this post. I'm simply posting a comment for people who just happen to stumble on this like I did. If you're NOT from Britain, I want to assure you that our country can be just as brilliant and just as horrible as any other. Our people are generally nice enough, some are rude, some are lovely but there is not one general attitude. Also despite our representation in American media we are not all bitingly sarcastic and self-regarding, and people have a general acceptance of social responsibilitiy.

There is I will admit, a higher level of racism than I would like, but I don't think many people would be actually racist out loud. People tend to keep it to themselves. And in urban areas like London, Manchester or Birmingham (yes- there are OTHER places in England) I doubt people get much abuse.

Overall though, I really liked this list, although there were some basic inaccuracies that have already been pointed out. People talk about England becoming 'Americanised' but I don't see it. I have family in California, in a normal town (i.e. not a city) and I found the differences pretty astounding. People don't smoke in the street! The pavements have almost no cigarette butts on them!


London is what you make of it. I'm not from here but have worked in London tourism for 15 years. Here are some of the good things about this 600 sqaure miles of madness. Love to hate it, hate to love it. Go to Eltham Palace, have a glass of wine with some bread and cheese at Gordon's wine bar, have the Michelin starred cheap set lunch at Arbutus, find the secret garden in Regent's Park, go to the Hunterian Museum, get a curry at Lahore on Umberston St, walk through Waxy O'Connors, have dim sum at Royal China on Baker St, visit Columbia Rd. flower market, have a Sunday roast at the Duke of Wellington on Crawford st., buy cheap socks at Primark, get half price vouchers off the internet and go to Thorpe Park, have a pint at the Mayflower in Southwark, queue at TKTS in Leicester square for half price theatre tickets...........

Being a 23 year old British guy from the North of England I was raised to understand that the north/south divide was an issue, meaning Londoners had this impression of been the greatest brits and in my teens when ever i met a southerner they did seem to have this ridiculous attitude the London is awesome and so much better than the North, however some Southerners who have moved to the North of England are SHOCKED by the idea that in the North people talk to each other.

Its true that the English culture has developed for the last 500 years to oppose any sense of religion as the idea of god is just not really british anymore, Americans are usually seen to be god fearing, praising and worshipping, i think we passed this a couple hundred years ago and i am so pleased, personally religion and god is just silly.

I wouldnt say we are racist at all in the north i mean yes, some absolutely common dogs make obscene statements on sex, sexuality (been gay myself i have had my share of insults), race and well obviously religion, i think its because of the stiff upper lip thing, i do it myself! desperately trying to keep the old ways of bow ties and port going, personally I hope this country does cheer up a little because i can say we either have a great sense of humour or we are truely F****** miserable and im tired of it :P i am 23 years old and have noticed that as i get older the majority of people i used to look at as adults!! are just plain depressing stupid bored, cheer up England!

Another thing, i think we can learn from the Americans! there advances in research and learning is much to be admired! healthcare in america is clearly without question better than the NHS (more money), the idea of health and fitness and diet in america as far as i am aware is a big thing, where as in England the mojority tend to be iceland for shitty food, and drinking almost every evening.

LOL! This blog is great. Can I add the lack of proper sockets in the bathrooms so 'we' (women) have to dry our hair in the bedroom or dining room. What kind of hygiene is that? Not to mention that every time u wash it hands u come out of the bathroom with a red cooked hand and a blue frozen one!!!! :@(

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I think what you're all missing here is something very big that applies all over the world. Everbody likes different things. Something I like, for example the British weather, would not be liked by someone else. The Mexican food issue, I don't like Mexican food so I'm not bothered about the lack of it, but some people do like it. We're all very different in our tastes. A city, such as London, will therefore never appeal to everyone for these reasons.

With regards to the racism, I think I know at least one reason behind it. I'm not racist myself, but I know people who are. British people get this overwhelming feeling that we are being invaded by immigrants. The media gives an impression that foreign people are taking jobs that could have gone to unemployed Brits, foreign crime is highlighted and foreigners are considered an 'annoyance'. A lot of these ideas are influenced, exaggerated, manipulated and highlighted by the British media. And a lot of British people read/hear something about foreign people and instantly stereotype. That's one thing Britain is, quick to be judgemental and stereotype. Some people, myself included, manage to see beyond these stereotypes. Also, remember that just because one person has been rude/racist, it does not reflect the views of a whole city of almost 8 million people.

Because of London's business driven economy, you do get a lot of ignorant, rude bankers (yes I did mean to put a 'b' at the start of that word and not a 'w') or business men whose only focus is to get to work and get home. They're normally the rude ones, although not always. Again, you can't just label a whole city because of the attitudes of one or two people. British people are generally quiet and conserved, but if you can crack this outer shell and get to know them, they're great. One thing British people do not like, is people that moan at something they have the ability to change.

In all then I would suggest one thing. Actually visit London. Don't listen to your friend's experience, forget what all of these comments say, actually go and visit London and see for yourself. If you like it, great! If you don't like it, that's fine. But please, don't criticize something that a lot of people love. I think the fact London has a population of 8 million shows it's a good city liked by a lot.

Thanks, a 16 year old.

I just stumbled across this blog and it made me a little angry I have to admit. I have been living in the UK for almost three years and I am very excited to move back to the USA. It is one thing to visit; another thing to live here. Of all of the brits I have interacted with there have only been a handful that were nice. The rest were rude or otherwise ignored me. I live up near Cambridge and have traveled around this country more than the majority of its citizens. The bad parts: rude people, lazy people, the incredible amount of air pollution even in the country, litter everywhere, never a rubbish bin when you need one, drivers are crazy- how can jumping in front of a lorry at 70 mph be safe, but that is how they drive, Racism and xenophobia is rampant. If you are white and have a british accent, good luck getting any customer service or even one word out of anyone. I actually has a cashier stop speaking to me after I said hello how are you. Every country has it's issues. The US is not perfect by any means, but it does make me angry when I hear how "you can shoot people on America" or "you don't need to own everything" or "another war started by Americans". Really? People actually believe this crap! You can't just shoot someone and not all Americans have a gun. It takes real hate to stab someone. Yeah, that's less personal. The war thing? I hate it. We had a very bad man as our leader for many years. He was ignorant and selfish. It's been very disappointing that when we finally make a move in the right direction, the old boys club jumps in to mess it up because they just can't get enough of their piece of the pie. The same can be said about any country. My biggest let down about the UK actually comes from my own country. We are taught constantly that England is our ally and that we all get along. What a lie. I have done quite a bit of traveling in Europe and by far England has been the most unfriendly and hateful. Scotland and Wales are not included. I have found them to be very kind and love to talk.
Two things I will miss about the UK: proximity to France and seeing all the castles, abbeys, houses, etc.There is always something to do.

Fun article, though I didn't find everything on the list "strange" at all. I'm an American who lived in England for two years in the 90s and loved every minute. I was in Oxfordshire but I visited London constantly for the theatre, the museums, shopping, etc. I had previously spent a summer in Wales and have made several trips to Edinburgh. When I lived there my friends and I drove all over Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somerset and down to Cornwall a couple of times.

I enjoyed all of the language and cultural differences and don't remember anyone being rude. There were some people who were reserved and took a long time to get to know (some never warmed up), but many more were friendly.

Never did like squash or shandy, but this is trivial. I'd never have expected good Mexican food in England anyway. I can't even get that in New York where I live now.

If I had a chance to move to London now I would take it in a second. In fact I've always hoped and expected that life would somehow take me back there and I'm just realizing that I'm going to have to actually do something to make this happen. Haven't worked out how yet. Sometimes I miss England so much I ache with it. I still dream sometimes that I'm living there and then I'm suddenly forced to leave for some reason. Just saw the second to last New York performance of the play Jerusalem and I'm tempted to take a vacation to London this Fall (Autumn!) to see it again and to see at least one play at the new Globe theater that I never got a chance to see when I lived there.

I will be traveling to London to study abroad starting in April, I stumbled upon this blog while looking for a list of things I should pack for my trip. I just want to thank the blogger for their humorous but informative effort, I just wish more people would have seen the humor. I do agree with one commenter that said it is what you make it, most things are what you make them and if you’re a miserable person that is closed off to new people and experiences than you’ll find that you generally dislike most things and well that’s just not London’s fault. Also I refuse to let a few rude Londoners ruin my trip when I’ll be surrounded by newness and lol and castles for God’s sake ( we don’t have castles in CA). I’m sure there are just as many rude people in the UK as there are in the US.

As far as all the racism and obesity talk I find it hard to believe that any adult that isn’t a complete moron would be shocked that racism is still alive and well worldwide so why pick on England?? I live in California and the racist remarks I hear about Hispanics and blacks are disgusting so let’s not pretend racism is exclusive to the Brits. However, if you know anything about their rich 500 year history that so many of the posters wanted to brag about you’d know a good chunk of that history was built with racism and classism as well as murder so I guess American’s aren’t the only ones with guns now are we? And if England is as you all say, you know full of fried chicken and liquor than I’m sure obesity is also alive and well.

It is impossible to obtain a clear view of any country off of a bunch of commenter’s opinions because everyone’s experience is exclusive to them. I will absorb London for myself while being open minded and joyful that I have the opportunity to get out of the US for a few months and make some new memories.

And if I run across anyone too racist I’ll use the universal language and flip them the bird.

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what do you keep bread closed with in america?!

I don´t know where you were but drinking outside is NOT allowed. It is strictly forbidden. The cops will steal your can at piccadilly circus. They even have signs that this is "non drinkin area". YOu can buy alcohol only until 11 and only in "off license stores". how did u come u with the idea that drinking outside is allowed ? you would have to go to berlin for that :)

This was VERY interesting to read. Some of the points you mention I found funny and strange. Others are just the same as where I live (Canada). Thank you for sharing your experience!

First I'd like to say that I really enjoyed reading your blog. Being British it was interesting to see what you found strange, most of which I can understand but some of which just left me confused (but in a good way haha). For example, what's odd about Christmas dinner?

I'd also like to apologise, as others before me have, on behalf of the people with no sense of humour. One thing I've always considered true of us Brits is that, if nothing else, we know how to laugh at ourselves -particularly more than Americans (heaven forbid I generalise!). Although clearly we have problems in that area too. I imagine these people assumed you were criticising, rather than merely observing.

For me, personally, it was the comments section that left me a little deflated. Particularly: "They lack good nurturing family values. Why do you think they swing so far the other direction to have virtual porn on terrestrial TV."

My response to this is that that's quite a politically conservative thing to say. It's part of the liberal nature of our media and if it's not your thing, just don't watch it, there's plenty of other things on. Don't allow your children to watch "virtual porn" (I'm still not confident I can think of many, if any, examples) instead of blaming the people who put it on TV. I'm not sure few risque TV programs constitutes a complete breakdown of morality and "good family values" in Britain.

I'm 19 years old and come from your classic "broken home", bottom of the ladder. Our class differences are stark but there is at least as much social mobility here as there is in the US, if not more. I think a lot of American citizens are unfairly fed the idea of the "American Dream", when it's unfortunately obvious the chances of them escaping the trailer park are slim. And I mean that in the most respectful way possible.

That said, there is definitely evidence of morally repugnant creatures here, but I refuse to accept that there isn't in the US. "Good family values" don't constitute a good person or country, just look at Bush or many other (and by NO MEANS do I mean ALL) a Republican for that matter. It's all about family values but it's not okay to pay a few more taxes so that the rest of the population can receive the healthcare they literally need to survive?

And that pretty much leads me to my conclusion. I LOVE Britain, despite being a 'miserable', self-deprecating (or honest, as I would say) individual. But it's because I'm realistic that I accept we still have a long way to go and at times, Britain just sucks.

As much as I am looking forward to eventually travelling the 50 states and appreciating the wonderful things they have to offer, I just couldn't bring myself to live in a country that doesn't provide universal healthcare. I know many people who would have been dead by now if our system was the same.

If it wasn't for that simple fact (and maybe the guns thing) I'd give my right leg, maybe even both, to live in New York.

And yes, I'm aware most of this was directed at a fleeting commenter posting years ago but the urge to express myself was too great! Maybe it's all that repression...

London-it's great. I've been all the world and can't beat it. I live in the typical English village about 45 miles north, pubs, post office, cricket team , local manor with squire owning half the place. And yes the country accent where everybody is called boy.

But I travel for 45mins outside rush hour and I'm in central London parked for free if you know where to go. There is history, food, theatre, buildings of all shapes and sizes and I always seem to find people really pleasant. Maybe because I've grown up in a place where everybody says morning, afternoon and evening which I do in London

yes I'm British but not bias. I love America as well because they really love my carrot cruncher accent

Swede basher

Oh, a foreigner in London, how unusual.

Agree with what you said for #14. I'm an American and I can't stand him. I can't believe "we the people" voted for him twice!

#17 cops drive BMW's
now some police, not cops, in Surrey get to drive Jaguars!

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This website ought to be required reading for anyone traveling to England. Very, very nice piece of work this. I'm studying it as cultural prep. After two trip to France and a lot of French study on the language I was tempted to think England would be a no-brainer, but then I got a grip on the fact that I needed to do some work here so as not to come across like a twit. If I did it for the French, I can make that effort for the British too.

I find it funny to read all these posts about Bush here - including from so many Americans - and about how he just wanted to bomb somebody and wasn't a good person. Of course Blair and Britain bombed the same people. Weird how that's ignored. Obama on the other hand with his naivete has ushered in the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (defeated gratefully) and ISIS and has succeeded in handing Libya, Yemen, and most of Iraq over to extremists and is negotiating with Iran who has been the sworn enemy of the West and a sponsor of state terrorism for decades. Sometimes the ability to give a speech doesn't equate to wisdom.

I'd also add, I'm on my way to London this spring, and after two incredibly enjoyable trips to France where everyone was very friendly and helpful, I'm curious to see the contrast with Londoners.

Actually when you visit Normandie you get the feeling they want to carry Americans around on a throne. It was startling. And Brettangne was the French version of Texas or the TEA Party. Take your pick.

I would also suggest that if you're planning a visit to England watch SkyTV news for a while and get a flavor for events and culture. Their political back and forth between the Tories and the Labors was really very good. It sounded very similar in substance to Republicans and Democrats in America, but with much better humor. Respect to England there. And of course, Parliament has it right when it comes to debating. I'd love to see Nancy Pelosi have to debate somebody in front of a crowd of 300 mocking politicians.

Every aspiring junior economist should read Atlas Shrugged. It's eerie how spot on she was in predicting things to come.

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