Peculiarities to know before you cross the pond

The strange and strangely great idiosyncrasies of America and its people.

Hayley Bloomingdale (of department store family fame), provided Vogue’s readers with an overview of the UK’s peculiar foibles, having lived in London for ten months.

Having spent ten weeks in America, husband-hunting on my holiday, I thought I’d compile my own little list in reverse.

Here we go kids…

California is not always warm and sunny. San Francisco is the windiest place on the planet (*only slight hyperbole has been used for this point).

Everyone says “smart” to describe almost everything (other than when describing Donald Trump).

Large cities appear to have more homeless people than tourists.

Walking down the street takes FOREVER as the grid system means you have to stop, press the button, wait for the blue man, then repeat 125 times.

As a pedestrian, even when it is your right of way at a crossing, drivers can still make a turn. Watch out.

Flat caps are still a legitimate clothing option for grown men.

There are plug sockets in the bathrooms. No need to adopt a ‘safety first’ policy here.

Washing machines and tumble dryers go against the practical laws of space conservation and load from the top.

Biscuits are all called cookies, regardless of type of “cookie”.

They don’t use the 24hr clock. How it doesn’t lead to chaos when arranging flights, trains, confirming meetings etc, I don’t know.

There are six different time zones in the USA. Enough said on that when planning your TV viewing.

The number one addiction in America is ice. Americans must have an abundance of it for their drinks at all times and failure to ensure close proximity to it leads to mass panic.

People take Adderall (more commonly used to treat ADHD) on a night out in order to drink more, delay feeling tired and party harder.

Seltzer is a popular mixer. Yuck!

If you text a potential date candidate asking if they fancy going for a drink, they will think you want to go for a fancy drink.

Underwear only appears to have one name; underwear. Not pants, thong, knickers, panties, boxers. Just underwear.

If a hypochondriac, do not watch TV in America. The adverts for medicines will lead to hospitalization as they list every possible negative side effect of each medicine advertised.

Corn dogs are a legitimate form of food in America. Basically a frankfurter wrapped in a doughnut. You’ll think you’ll hate it. You’ll become addicted.

On informing Americans that you are traveling around the USA, they will promptly apologise for their public transport system.

Unlike in England, people rarely discus the weather. Cue tumbleweed and silence when in an Uber.

You will be asked three times a week as a Brit if you’ve met the queen. Always say that you have to avoid the look of sadness and disappointment in their eyes.

Americans will frequently ask you what your opinion is of their political system and current presidential candidates. Do NOT convey what you really think.

If on a date, it is best to ham up the English accent. It guarantees at least three more drinks with them.

Wine is available in 1.5l bottles in the US. This makes heartbreak in America much easier to get over.

Few Americans have heard of Garage music. Those that have will insist on calling it gaRRRAAAge.

If watching Family Feud (the US version of Family Fortunes), be prepared for the contestants to over-enthusiastically clap at absolutely everything; wrong answers, commercial breaks, losing…the show is 70% applause, 30% ridiculous questions.

Drink driving appears to be commonplace. Expect a shocked face if you question how many drinks someone has had.

Bus drivers are super friendly. It is ok to talk to them and actively encouraged. *Do not try this in London though on your return.

The subway system uses a turnstile exit. Be prepared to hate life if traveling with a suitcase or pushchair.

With a wallet full of ones, expect to feel like a fat wallet, only to realise you still don’t have enough dollars to buy a drink.

When asking for directions, people will tell you to go north for one block and then west on another etc. This is only helpful if you know which direction north is.

Conjoining words that don’t actually go together is perfectly fine y’all.

University is called school. School is called…..

Baseball is a pastime not a sport. It is also outrageously slow. It makes cricket look fast.

If you order a lemonade you’ll be served something resembling Robinsons Lemon Squash.

You really shouldn’t use the word cunt in America. It is heavily frowned upon. Yet shooting someone in self-defence is absolutely fine.

Americans will only talk about LA in relation to its awful traffic issues. Don’t waste your time asking Americans what LA is like.

You will be ID’d if you want to use the printer in a library in Chicago, the same as if you wanted to buy a gun in Texas.

A holiday and the holidays are different.

Retailers have decided that they won’t show you the price you’ll pay for items in a shop, instead they’ll show you a different price and then surprise you with tax (that is different in each state), at the point of sale.

You will never know when to use chip and pin, when to swipe and sign or when just to swipe. Don’t try to pre-empt it, you will only ever be wrong.

If you are meeting someone on the “first floor,” do not get in the lift. They are actually referring to the ground floor.


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Hollie Day

Hollie by name, HollieDay by nature. Join me on my journey, husband hunting on my holidays.