Into our second week here, I’ve had a little bit of time to come across some differences from the States. Some things are better, some are not as good; some things are easier, some are harder.
I definitely won’t miss:
- Constant presidential election coverage. It’s fairly brutal every election year, but this year might be the worst ever.
- Driving. Those horribly potholed Baltimore roads, terrible drivers cutting you off, traffic…
- The Bawlmer accent. No offense, Hon. But the Queen’s English is just so delightful to listen to.
- Mosquitos, especially with the Zika virus scare.
- American health insurance/health care. It’s purposely confusing, you never have any idea how much money you will actually have to shell out, some people can’t afford it, and there’s a lot of politics tied up in it. Here, you need health care, you get health care for free. Simple. Fair.
- The tipping culture. I much prefer the British way of only tipping 10% and not for nearly as many services, because employees receive a fair wage.
- Baltimore summer heat and humidity. I lived there 11 years and I will never get used to it.
- COMCAST. SEE YA.
- My car. I realize I said I won’t miss driving, and there’s a lot about it that is annoying, but it’s also so easy and comforting to have your own vehicle parked right there, to take you door to door wherever you need to go, whenever. And if your kid is having a meltdown, at least she’s strapped into a car seat and can’t get out and no one else but you can hear or see her.
- Peanut butter. There’s a reason the Brits don’t eat PBJs—the peanut butter here just isn’t very good. Past experience taught me this, so I packed two Costco-size tubs of Skippy Natural in my suitcase. (That said, the Nutella here is totally way better.)
- Having a yard, particularly for the dog’s and kids’ sakes.
- American washers and dryers. You just don’t appreciate them until you’ve had to use one of those small, horrid washer-dryer combo machines they have here. They don’t so much dry your clothes as boil them into a permanently wrinkled, damp ball of stiff fabric.
- TARGET. Oh, the magical land of everything you need under one roof. Where do I go when I need contact solution, yogurt, a swimsuit, a prescription, a desk fan, a dog leash, birthday cards, seasonal decorations, a big bag of charcoal, and a dozen unnecessary small items that weren’t on my list but look how cute and they’re only a dollar!? How has Target not caught on overseas? Of course, you do need a car to take home all your bags of stuff…
- Restaurant servers automatically bringing water refills. Or at least bringing them quickly when requested. How are people here never thirsty? Why does no one seem to drink as much water as I require? Everyone must be terribly dehydrated.
- The safe assumption that a business you’d like to go to is open on Sunday, or after 6 p.m., or in the whole month of August…
- American deodorant. Not for us, no; I stocked up with about quadruple the amount we could possibly need in the next two years. But when you are on a crowded, hot tube with European men’s arms up over their heads… oy.
- Giant American strong “filter” (drip) coffees
- Restaurants that have non-smoking outdoor patios. Europe and the U.K. have way more restaurants/cafes with outdoor space to dine al fresco, which I love, but so many Europeans and Brits smoke, and we’ve had to opt to sit inside because everyone outside is smoking. Such a bummer.
- Crisp, sweet, crunchy apples. So far I’ve only seen and tasted mealy Braeburn, Gala, and Pink Lady apples. Crying inside for my Fujis and Honeycrisps!
- Baltimore/East Coast spring and fall—especially fall.
- And snow days! Sure, last year’s blizzard was a bit much, but a few snow days are always lovely, especially with our wood-burning fireplace I’m also going to miss.
I’m sure there will be more things that occur to me that I miss or don’t miss. I’ll write a similar post as we are returning to the States in two years and see how the lists have changed!