Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What It's Like To Be American in the UK

As an American living in the UK, almost every time I leave the house, I have people asking me very personal questions. As soon as I open my mouth, people know that I'm not from here because, after 11 years, I still miraculously have my New York accent. And while most people might not think these questions are personal, I feel they are very personal because this is a stranger asking me questions about my huge life decisions.

1. Where are you from?
When I tell people I'm from New York, they automatically assume that I'm from New York City. While I was born in Brooklyn, I didn't live there when I left NY. I lived in a small town called Leeds and it has a population of around 350 people. 350. I moved to a town called Dudley, population 313,300 and about 10 miles outside of Birmingham, which is the second biggest city in England. Sometimes I don't bother to inform people that I didn't live in NYC because it's not worth explaining any further.

Leeds, NY circa 1970ish but it still looks exactly like this.

2. Why did you move here?
Why did you move anywhere you moved? I haven't asked you about your living situation, why are you asking about mine? I moved to England because my husband is English. This question almost always precedes these next questions...

It's all his fault.

3. How long have you lived here?
11 years. Sigh.

4. Wow, you still have your accent!
Um, of COURSE I still have my accent. I was 22 years old when I moved here not 5.

5. So, do you like it here?
Um, I've lived here for 11 years. I believe that means that I like it here.

6. Do you find it very different?
Of course it's different, it's a different country. But for the most part, it's pretty much the same. Obviously there's more history and stuff like that but they speak the same language (for the most part) and they have pretty much the same foods, so it's not like moving to Morocco or something like that.

This is Dudley. Do you see a difference?

Inevitably, I get someone that comments that they've always wanted to go to NY, after I've informed them that's where I'm from. Or they tell me they've been there or someone in their family or one of their friends has been there. Or maybe their dog. Or they tell me they've been to a different part of the states and I tell them that I've never been off the east coast of America and they look at me like I'm nuts. Another comment I love is: "wow, I'd never move here, I'd totally move to the states." Well, good for you. And good luck with that because you'd need a crap load of paperwork even to be considered for a visa to actually live and work in the states, just like I had to do to live here but 20 times worse.

When I go to visit my family in NY, my husband and I get a lot of these questions and some of them in reverse. We also get the comments from people telling us that they've been to London (because, apparently, there's no where else to visit in England or the UK) or they know someone that has been. That's great for you. I dislike London a lot, so I've been there a total of two times in 13 years.

Here are some of the questions that my husband or I are asked when we go to NY.

7. Have you met the Royal Family? Do you know Kate or William? Or any generic question about the Royals.
No. Just no.

This is my house. Does it LOOK like I know any Royals?

8. How much does gas cost there?
A hell of a lot. Always more than you can imagine and we know that you can't believe that's how much it costs (PS it's about $7.25 a gallon right now).

9. Do you drink a lot of tea?
I drink a lot of tea and a lot of coffee. Sometimes, I drink more of one than the other. Sometimes, I don't drink any at all. What do you drink? My husband doesn't actually drink tea at all. I know a lot of English people that don't like tea. Shocking news! Alert the BBC!


10. What's it like driving on the other side of the road?
I wouldn't know, I don't drive here but I do find it a little bit difficult to acclimate back to the American side of the road when I visit NY. My husband hates this question.

11. What's the time difference? What time is it there now?
After 11 years, my grandmother still asks me this question. The answer is we're 5 hours ahead of the east coast. Unless it's the three weeks after the time changes in the spring, when it's only a 4 hour time difference and the two weeks when the time changes in the autumn, when it's a 6 hour time difference. Confusing as hell.

12. You don't have the 4th of July/Columbus Day/President's Day/Thanksgiving there?
Just think for a minute before you ask me this question. British people are NOT going to celebrate a day where another country declared their independence from them. They're not going to celebrate a day for someone that didn't actually discover America. They're not going to celebrate a day in honor of American presidents. And they're not going to celebrate a day of thanks for people leaving their country and almost starving to death. Do you celebrate May Day or Boxing Day or Easter (yes, I know you celebrate Easter, but in the UK, Good Friday and Easter Monday are days off for a good majority of the country)?

In conclusion:

I love England (and Wales and Scotland).
Yes, I still have my accent.
I'm not from NYC.
Gas costs a lot of money here.
Yes, we drive on the left hand side of the road.
No, I don't like the Royals.
Yes, I love tea but not everyone here does.


  1. This cracks me up! Makes me almost want to post on the odd questions living in Montana brings up, lol! Thank you for sharing!

    1. hahaha I didn't even think that moving to a different state would bring these sort of questions up as well!!

  2. Great post! And I think your mission in life should now be to meet Will and Kate. ;)

  3. I'm an American moving to Australia, also for marriage, and I get very similar questions! This was so hilarious and accurate!

    1. Wow, that's a really big move!! I wonder if you get any other weird questions like this? Do Americans still ask you about the Royals?

  4. Great post!
    I moved from Norway to UK, and I get a lot of the same questions.
    Along with: How long does it take to fly? one hour to Norway and three hours back (how is that possible, do you stop in ___ insert random place in Europe? No it's due to time difference)
    How's life in London (I live in Bristol, so i have no idea how life is in London)?
    Have you started to drink a lot of tea (i drank tea prior to moving here)?

    Great post, it was a lot of fun reading it. :)
    I know how it feels.

    1. I forgot about people asking about the length of flights! I think that occurred a lot when I first moved here but now people just ask how the flight was or what movies I watched haha And thanks!!

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    3. Have a great day! Keep shining, even though its cloudy outside.
      You live not that far from where I used to live (leominster). How cool is that!

  5. That's so funny about the gas. I used to live in Germany for a few years when I was younger. At the time (90s) gas was a little over $4 a gallon on base. No one ever believes me either.

    1. Yeah, I don't see why they keep asking when it's always high, it never goes down haha