Now that we have lived in the UK for about 5 months, our list of differences have grown. If you didn’t get a chance to read the first 10 Differences, check those out here! We moved to England in February 2018 from the United States and have been blogging our experiences ever since. We have enjoyed every minute, exploring the area, trying different foods, and even some weekend trips to other places in Europe…like Stockholm!
Hope you enjoy these 10 differences!
For work purposes, I understand the human body normal temperature is 36-38 degrees Celsius. When we are talking about the weather, it’s different. I have figured out that anything in the 30 degrees is hot, 40 and above…whew, it’s boiling. Marvin grew up using Celsius though, but using Farenheit in the States for the last 8 years, he had to refresh his memory too!
2. Date and Week
When you write or say the date or your birthday, the day comes first, then the month. I really had to get used to writing the date at work, since I have to write it for documenting daily. The work calendar day starts on Monday too, not Sunday.
3. Ice and Refills
Restaurants don’t usually provide free refills or barely any ice. Gone are the days of ordering fountain drinks, or tea, with unlimited refills. And if you do get ice, feel lucky if you get about 2 ice cubes. Even the common fridge/freezers don’t come with ice makers, or they are pretty expensive. We have reverted back to using ice trays.
4. Sales Tax
The price you see on a tag, is the price it actually is. There’s no need to calculate tax and add it to your bill. This is so nice with expensive purchases, when that extra tax can rack up easily before you know it!
The legal driving age to be eligible for a license is 18, as is the drinking age. Drivers education also is not free, and is quite expensive, and the tests are more comprehensive. For those of you not from the US, my drivers education (classroom + driving practice) was provided through my high school when I was 15 and was no cost to me besides paying to take the test.
6. Air Conditioning
This is a real bugger since the heatwave that has hit the world this summer. It has been abnormally hot here in England! (not compared to home though). The kicker here is: having AC in your homes is not a common thing, because it’s not hot long enough during the year to have need for one. So it’s been about 80 degrees the past couple of weeks, and all we have are 2 fans in our apartment! Talk about complaining. But then I think about Brazil, and then stop. The houses here are not made like in Brazil though where it’s as open.
7. Electrical Outlets
The plugs are different for sure, definitely sturdier. The voltage is 240 here, whereas in the US it’s 120. In addition to the the outlets being different, there is an extra switch that turns each individual plug on and off. There is nothing more annoying than plugging your phone into the wall to charge all night, but then to notice in the morning that you didn’t turn the outlet “on”, so it didn’t charge a single lick. Another weird thing is there are no outlets in the bathroom, except for shavers. This all has to do with the UK’s safety codes when it comes to water and electricity in the same room. I can’t even blow dry my hair in the bathroom ha.
8. Maternity Leave and Vacation Time
The UK does this right and is taken seriously. According to the UK government site “all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year.” If you don’t believe me, check here. I work shift work, so my contract might be a bit different written down, but I still get massive amounts of weeks off every year! It’s not something I have to accrue according to how many years I’ve worked there either, just automatically when I started.
Now maternity leave is quite long compared to American standards as well. According the the UK government website again, statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks, and you can be paid up to 39 weeks. I think this is awesome that moms can stay home so much longer with their little ones. If you get 12 weeks at home, that’s considered a nice long time. Astonishing.
9. TV License
If you own a TV, and want to watch the live broadcast (like the news or weather forecast), you have to register and pay for a TV licensing fee. They will send you multiple notices in the mail, and can make a surprise visit if you have not paid to see if you are watching or able to watch the those channels. This costs £150 a year (about $200). You can be fined £1000 if you are found to be watching or recording any BBC program. But if you are 75 or older, you can watch for free. This all has to do with BBC not running commercials through their channels. I’m sorry, but this TV license is just silly to me, especially when you can watch Netflix and not worry about it.
10. Pickup Trucks
I’m from the southern part of the US, so every other vehicle is going to be a truck on the road, it seems. I can count the number of trucks I’ve seen here on my hands. Sedans and wagons (they call them saloons and estates) are the most common vehicles, and it’s not unlikely to see a camper being pulled by one of these. The parking spaces are much smaller too.