Well Begun is Half-Done

Hello, faithful readers!

This post is about the differences between America and the UK that I have observed thus far. I’d like to preface that discussion, though, with a look into my preconceived notions of England before coming here.

Last night while talking with some British students after Mass, we got on the topic of roommates. They asked if that was a common occurrence to share a room, because apparently it isn’t here. I said yes, and they exclaimed, “just like in the movies!” I asked which ones, and they started talking about Hilary Duff and the Lizzie McGuire show. It was so funny to me to hear that their perceptions of America come from movies and TV shows they watched as kids, but then I realized that the same probably applies for me. I knew that my thoughts about England mainly came from movies, TV shows, and books. For example: Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, etc. However, these are all relatively recent entries into my life, so I tried to think back even further to what shaped my perception as a child–Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins is one of my favorite movies for two reasons: it is a musical, and Julie Andrews is in it. Can’t go wrong there! On top of that, it taught me that British accents are wonderful, Brits are very polite, proper, and punctual people, they drink tea like water, and that it looks like they have a lot of fun! So far, the only parts I’ve gotten correct are the ones about Imagetheir accents and the amount of fun they have. So what ARE the differences between the USA and UK? Things you wouldn’t expect.

  1. As mentioned in a previous post, their stores close at 6 during the week, and 4 on Sundays. Now I know why everyone goes to the pub or club at night–they can’t make a midnight run to Walmart! hahaha 
  2. The keyboards are different. For example, the @ sign is on the right side of the keyboard by the Enter key, not above the 2. The left Shift key is also quite small, about the size of the letter keys. I was trying to type something on the computers in the library and kept hitting extra letters instead of Shift! So strange. Shouldn’t the fact that we speak the same language and use the same letters mean that the keyboard can stay the same?
  3. I tried to go shopping the other day with a friend of mine, and I realized that the clothes and shoe sizes here are totally different. I guess I knew that, but I think most of our clothes in the States have tags that list the equivalent sizes in other countries…not so here! Needless to say, I did not buy anything and will go back once I look up my sizes.
  4. The fact that everyone at my university is of legal drinking age is so strange. They even sell beer, wine, and liquor in the campus grocery store! During Fresher’s Week, almost every event was either a pub crawl or had an open bar featured.
  5. Everyone dresses nice here. That is not a stereotype, that is the truth! Ask me how many people I’ve seen walking around in sweats and Ugg boots like they love to do at American colleges (hint: I can count them on one hand). I need to update my wardrobe! Some of my friends told me about a website where you can order clothes online, they deliver them the next day, and you can return them for free if you don’t like them. That sounds dangerous, but it leads me to my next point…
  6. Online shopping is pretty much the lifestyle here. If you want to go shopping, you walk 30 minutes to the city centre and then can only buy as much as you can carry back. Even small bags start feeling heavy and hurt your arms when you have to walk a long way, usually uphill, with them. So the solution is online shopping: ultimate edition. By that I mean that even grocery stores deliver! You can just pick out your food online and it is delivered right to your door. Whaaaat. I will be trying it out soon!
  7. There are no required textbooks for any of my classes. Apparently professors can’t actually make you buy a textbook, they can only “recommend” them. Pretty sure the US should adopt this policy! I am going to buy a few books, but only because I think they will be useful reference materials to have in my future career.
  8. Semesters are called terms, classes are called modules, and professors are called tutors.
  9. They pronounce “skeletal” as “skel-EE-tal,” and cervical as “cer-VEE-cal.” It took me half of my first class just to figure out what the tutor was saying!
  10. Last but not least, there are no obese people here. Quite frankly, I think it’s because they couldn’t survive here. With hills in every direction and all the walking they do, it’s literally survival of the fittest. Not sure if this one is true for England as a whole, but it applies to Exeter at any rate.

That’s all for now, folks! Hope you enjoyed this little bit of trivia 🙂



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