A Brit Explains the Difference Between Living in America and Britain

PHOTO: Tony Atkin
PHOTO: Tony Atkin

Written by Mark Boots — Mark has lived in Southeast Missouri since September 2014. He moved to the United States from Southern England.

Many people have asked me what is the difference between America and Britain and is it hard to live over here compared with home.

Well, before I start, I want to make it perfectly clear that I love living in America.  I enjoy the people and their lifestyle, I try as much as possible to integrate into the way of life, and I am not in any way being disparaging. There are of course many differences, lifestyle, language, food and items that you buy in stores.

We have in Britain McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, and Papa Johns to name but a few and NFL at times is played in the National Stadium at Wembley. And one of our largest super market chains ASDA is owned by Walmart.

Everyone seems to drive over here which of course is sensible as the nearest store is a good 3 miles away, where of course in the UK you can hop on a bus or walk to the stores in most places. Gas or what we call petrol is so very much cheaper in the States. On average in Britain a gallon costs $8.50 and a pack of cigarettes ranges from $7 – $11.

A quaint custom over here is fire pits, our friend Sheri has a wonderfully talented husband who made us a fire pit out of a tractor wheel and it sees hard use in the winter, to me I am fascinated by it. At home if you saw a group of people sitting by a fire in the outside we would say “look at those silly buggers, get inside”. The weather too is kinder, yes, we have low temps here but back home and in Europe I am used to temperatures as low as -35 ° F.

In Britain it will get dark in mid winter at around 3:45 pm and won’t get light until 9:00 am. However, in the summer it gets light at 4:00 am and won’t get dark in mid-summer until 10:30 pm.

I love American cars and pick up trucks.  We have very few pick ups in the UK and the largest cars are around 2 litres. They are usually 1 or 1.6 litres due to the price of petrol but it is a poor excuse to have an engine that farts in a high pitch every time you put your foot down on the motorway (that is a highway or freeway to you).

The language is different in many ways, for instance we spell the colour grey with an “e” not an “a”, we use “u” a lot as in flavour, harbour and colour.

Gas is petrol, jelly is jello and jam is jelly and oh Lord my eyes have just crossed! What we call scones are biscuits, and what you call cookies we call biscuits unless they are Maryland chocolate chip cookies. Confused? You and me both! Then there is the thorny problem of fries, no we call them chips and they ain’t French at all.

You see, a group of Dough boys in the first World War bought some chips, but seeing as they were fried, they were “fries”.  To complicate things even further, they thought they were in France when in fact they were in Belgium. I know it is befuddling.

What you call chips, we call crisps, so if you are in the UK don’t ask for a plate or bowl of chips because you will get French fries that are really Belgian.

Americans use the word “fillet” and say it the correct way as the French intended, whereas the British call it a “fillit” pronouncing the “t” but then, we correctly use the French “tourniquet” pronounced “tor-nee-kay” whereas our American cousins prounonce the “t”.

The hood of a car is a bonnet, and the trunk is a boot. These are just some of the problems of language and I try and talk slowly because some people here in the gateway to the Ozarks either think I’m James Bond or a Russian KGB agent.

If you ever go to Britain there are certain things that you must be aware of, we don’t carry guns unless you’re a hoodlum. And please do not ask for a fanny pack as you will be given a tampon! Fanny packs are bum bags. Why? Well originally the idiot who designed them had them facing backwards above your bum, then the pick pockets had a field day and were robbing everyone blind. So now they are pulled around to the front but gut gusset doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?

We do not celebrate the fourth of July, there are two reasons for this firstly Britain has stood for over a thousand years and seeing as we integrated Wales then Scotland then finally Northern Ireland it is difficult to say exactly when we became unified. Also we don’t celebrate getting our arses kicked, even though you cheated by getting the French to help, God I hate the French.

British is not English, as stated above there are four distinct and unique countries that make up Britain.

The Scots wear kilts play the bag pipes and eat haggis, the Welsh have choirs and have an unhealthy relationship with sheep, the Northern Irish like alcohol and fighting anyone including themselves, the English like alcohol, football violence, cricket and generally being able to cock up any situation. Football is soccer, end of argument.

We do not celebrate thanks giving because we are a bunch of Godless piratical swine who have nothing to be thankful for and anyway we are miserable buggers especially in winter when it’s dark for about 18 hours a day!

I love American food and it is plain wholesome food just like that at home, I do like burritos though, as we don’t have many Mexican food outlets.

I love the steaks and ribs and pulled pork and they go well with my home made curry coleslaw!

So you see my friends, we are different in many ways, but also akin in ways too, many times I have seen comments in which someone has typed a phrase that I have heard many times in the UK.

We may have come from 4,500 miles away but we share so much in common.

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