October 30, 2015

England vs. USA

Every time I go to Europe, I'm amazed (usually pleasantly; sometimes not so much) about the differences between Europe and the United States.  Here are how things differ in a few areas...and a few anecdotes from the trip along the way.

England: You want instant coffee, right?!  Because brewed coffee is found only in select "fine dining" establishments or three (not truly widely available chains - Starbucks, Costa and Pret A Manger) chains.  Forget asking for a size.  Seriously.

United States: Instant is well...frowned up on in this establishment! LOL  You can hit a Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons, Honey Dew and a variety of amazing local chains no matter what direction you throw in, get any kind of drink that you want and just about any size you want.

The second day into my trip I NEEDED coffee and hit the Starbucks in Covent Garden.  After they tried to give me a hot beverage three times, and declaring that they don't have milk, I gave up and drank my coffee black.  For this "iced only" lady, it was extremely disappointing.

England: Wait, I have a horn on this car? Because I'm happy to just merge and keep going! Want to walk in front of my car; no biggie. Of course I'll get you where you're going!

United States: Did you not hear the first three times I honked?!  Merge FASTER. Stay in your lane. Do NOT walk out in front of my car. Um, is this corner close enough?  I don't want to circle the block so it's a safe place for you to exit and get to your destination.

OK...maybe I'm being a little dramatic.  But for all the time I was in London, I heard a car honk its horn three times - and once was to alert others that an ambulance was coming. That just doesn't happen here. Driving is faster, tighter (as in sometimes you are mere centimeters from the car next to you on those old roads) and much more civil there.  I can honesty say that I feel they are better drivers.

England: "Can I bum a cigarette off you"?  Sure.

United States: You SMOKE?!  Really???  Can I help you get into a smoking cessation program?

As an asthmatic, I am very sensitive to cigarette smoke.  So seeing so many smokers on the streets, huddled around doorways and bars was a little disconcerting for me.  If I were the NHS (National Health Service), my campaign for the New Year would be about stopping smoking...  Think of all the money their government could save in medical claims if they had fewer smokers.  (I know, my mind works in weird ways.)

PETS (aka your furrier family members)
England: Dogs WELCOME!!

United States:  Wait.  That is such a violation of the health code....

It's perfectly acceptable to bring your well mannered dog (not just service dog) into bars, many eating establishments, on public transportation, etc.  This is especially true once you get out of London.  If you're following me on Instagram, you got to see just a few of the many, many animals I met in bars, pubs, restaurants, on buses, trains, in castles, cathedrals and a number of other places in my travels over the past few weeks.  My heart was happy that their country has made (recent - as in the past two to three years) huge strides in allowing dogs to be fully integrated into daily life and seen as part of societal norms.  It's another thing that you'd just not see here.  Maybe someday!!

Speaking of pets, they do not have nearly the problem with unwanted animals (dog, cats, etc) that we do here and NO KILL SHELTERS!  Shelters are extremely rare, fully government funded and I hope that never changes.

England: Well, it depends where you are.  In London, you can get wi-fi without an issue at your hotel and in larger shopping areas/eating establishments.  Outside of London - it's a bit like living in the late 90's to early 2000's. Wi-fi is virtually non-existant and they are TOTALLY OK with it.

United States: Let's just say that on an average day, I'm on my cell phone, tablet, both a PC and Mac desktop and a laptop....

I'm a little ashamed to say this, but I was in almost as much tech withdrawal as I was caffeine withdrawal when I got to England.  I don't "unplug" well, so while I had my cell phone and tablet with me, I didn't have internet access often and when I did - I had pictures queued up to post and a few "must see" websites/apps.  In the countryside, getting any type of internet connectivity is a minor miracle and the folks at the timeshare told me they only got wi-fi last year and after a HUGE investment!

England: Um...ice?  You want frozen water?  Isn't regular water good enough?  And you do know that eggs and butter don't need to be refrigerated, right?

United States: "Keep refrigerated at all times".  Ice?!  Have it by the bucket full!!!

I have no problem with tap water, but I really like ice.  I enjoy beverages really cold! When we got to London, we stayed at the Crown Plaza and I was so happy to see an ice machine fairly close to my room.  Until I realized it didn't work...  Turns out they don't always keep them on.  *sigh*  But they got me ice and I was a happy little camper.  I made my own ice at the timeshare. You know six cubes at a time from the tray that came in the mini fridge!  The real problem was when I got back to London and we checked into The Strand Palace.  They have ONE ice machine for the entire hotel - a LARGE hotel of 758 rooms.  Then they add insult to injury and not only charge you money to get ice, you have 20 seconds to get your ice and the "bucket" they give you is a styrofoam quart container.  I have issues with that whole thing...

Have any of you noticed any good (or not so great) differences between the States and Europe?



  1. How am I not following you on Instagram!

    When in Europe (Germany) in the mid 90s...I really enjoyed the layed back feel of everything. Of course, I stayed with a friend in the country...but it just seemed that work took a backseat to family and leisure to the residents....A very good thing :-).

  2. Haha, I wish I had been to England so I can compare them myself. it's just a bucket list dream for now.

    I will concur that everywhere in the world smoking is so common (that's one thing the US trumps Europe on 100%)

  3. This was very interesting. Thanks.

  4. Great great post! Very very informative
    -Sabrina from Facebook

  5. I love how friendly people in the US!
    xx, Sofie

  6. I've heard of all of this but the ice! That one's new. I *need* ice! It's so cool to see how much more pet friendly they are, though!

  7. Great read, especially for someone who's never been outside of America!

    xo - Michelle

  8. Ah, this brings back some fond memories of Europe. It really is SUCH a different experience over there!

  9. The ice cube thing is the worst! I was in England in 2006 during the hottest July they'd had in 30 years! You had to request ice and even then it was like 3 cubes. And yes the stuff they didn't keep cold like eggs and milk creeped me out. Let's just say I didn't have any while I was there.

  10. Love this! I studied abroad in England while I was in college and remember all the smoking and dogs everywhere! That was back before everyone had a cell phone though, so I can't speak to that. Man, I'm old.

  11. This is awesome! It definitely increases my need to go see Europe!


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