As you may know, we have just made our move to the UK to start a new adventure. We’ve chosen England because it’s a good portal to continental Europe but still somewhere I can work in an English speaking country as a nurse. A 30 minute train ride from London isn’t too shabby either.
We have noticed some minor differences initially just by coming over after being accustomed to being in North Carolina. FYI, this is just the list from initially being here less than 2 weeks and is not conclusive of all the differences 🙂
1. Boiler Radiator Heating System
Since we came over during the winter, we definitely took note of how the houses are heated. Where our house was a central heating system at home, most of the places here have radiators in each room. A central boiler heats up the water and sends them through pipes to each room for heating.
2. No Sheets
Every British house we have stayed in or store we have gone to browse in has not had sheets for the bed. Yes, they have fitted sheets for the mattress but the thing to do here is to have duvet covers for the comforter which can be washed easily. I feel like I’m missing something when I get into bed.
3. Pay for Grocery Bags
Those of you who are familiar with Aldi and Lidl’s at home, every grocery store in the UK is basically like that. You can pay a few pence for grocery bags every time you go shopping or after awhile you get tired of this and bring your own! It’s nicer to the economy for sure. Also we’ve noticed all cashiers sit down while working! And expect to bag everything yourself.
Most of the less modern bathroom sinks have 2 nozzles. One for hot water and the other for cold. One just came from a boiling lava volcano and the other is melted glacier waters from the Arctic ice caps ha. So it’s hard to get the right temperature when you wash your hands, as they don’t mix. Marvin did find luck by filling the sink with both hot and cold to get a good temperature for shaving 🙂
We have found that everything is so energy efficient and economy saving conscious here…which is a change honestly coming from the States. Something as little as having 2 oven doors. The top one is a smaller unit for small items to bake or heat up which requires less energy. The bottom is obviously saved for bigger dishes.
6. Credit Cards
We often use an American credit card to make purchases because we have one that has no foreign transaction fees. (We prefer these to debit cards as it’s not immediately taken out of your account in case your card gets hacked.) Our cards are Visa signature cards with a chip, (as most are from home) but often when we use it, we get a look of confusion and they can’t believe we have to sign the receipt…Wow! (one guy even called his manager!) Apparently signature cards are a really outdated thing. Usually they use a PIN here or it’s a contactless payment. We went to a KFC once and we felt like criminals the way they were billergerently refusing to take our form of payment. We do try and have cash most of the time now in case of further instances such as this.
7. Light Switches
This sounds a bit silly but we’ve noticed that light switches for rooms are sometimes outside of the room as you enter the door. For example, entering a dark bathroom at 3am and searching all over for a light switch to find, then to realize you have to get out of the bathroom to turn the switch on before you go in! Actually, thinking about it now though, it does sort of make sense doesn’t it? That way if you are unfamiliar with the place, there’s no question as to where the light switch is ha.
8. Traffic Lights
Besides the obvious fact that the Brits drive on the opposite side of the road, the traffic lights behave differently too. The sequence isn’t always green, yellow, red (or whatever sequence you want to start with) like home. When you are sitting at a red light, the light turns yellow then green to give you sort of preparation that it’s time to GO! It’s a nice little reminder, especially since most of the vehicles are manual here. Another thing that is worth mentioning are roundabouts galore…which are so much better than 4 way stop signs. Some of the larger roundabouts even have stoplights along the circle.
9. Gas Stations
Pump your gas, then pay. Say what??? Haha. I guess there aren’t as many crooks here yet? I don’t know the rationale behind this one. At some gas stations (AKA petrol stations), they have extra long hoses available so it doesn’t matter which side your tank is on…how clever!
10. Private AND Public Healthcare
Both are available. I have chosen to become employed in a public hospital at East Surrey Hospital, part of the National Health Service (NHS), which is Britain’s public healthcare system. I’ve really wanted to learn firsthand how this system operates and see its’ strengths and weaknesses. I won’t go into too much detail here because I don’t want too much backlash. 😛
I plan to keep a list of more differences along the way but it’s been fun to take note of the ones so far! Which difference is most interesting to you? What other differences have I not listed yet?
*Now we have published 10 Differences Part II for you to check out!
For more on the language difference, check out my compiled list of British vs. American English so far!