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I moved to the UK from the US, AMA

166 replies

Avalla33 · 27/07/2018 15:19

It's still early days, as I moved here about a year ago. I don't know if I have anything particularly interesting to say, but I'll try to answer any questions the best that I can.

OP posts:
BonnieF · 30/07/2018 00:38

Hi Avalla33,

When I visit the US, I’m always overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the place, the sense of space and the distances between cities.

You have moved from that vast continent to a country slightly smaller than Oregon. Do you feel conscious of the fact that you now live on a very small, very crowded island?

MissConductUS · 30/07/2018 00:42

As far as alcoholism, the vast majority of people in the US drive and drunk driving is a serious problem, not sure if there is any correlation there.

The rate of alcohol abuse for men in the UK is a bit higher than in the US and for women it's about the same.

Nice to have an American representative I don't have to apologize for!

Same here! Grin

Crafty, are you in the US or an American in the UK? There's a small group of us US based Yanks here on MN.

HaroldsSocalledBluetits · 30/07/2018 00:45

Thanks, CraftyYankee. See, in that context I can understand the hundreds of guns. I'd probably have hundreds of guns myself if it was going to take the coppers three days to get to me when I phoned them to say someone was breaking into my house!

SenecaFalls · 30/07/2018 00:49

There's a small group of us US based Yanks here on MN.

And a few Southerners. Wink

PurpleArmy · 30/07/2018 00:49


If you love peanut butter, you MUST try ManiLife.

It is sublime.

MissConductUS · 30/07/2018 00:53

And a few Southerners.

For whom "damnyankee" is one word. Grin

Biggreygoose · 30/07/2018 01:00

Just how much hatred of the home office visa process do you have? Grin And have you calculated just how much money it's going to be to get IDLR? (Word of advice: don't)

(Brit married to an American here)

SenecaFalls · 30/07/2018 01:11

I married a man from upstate NY MissConduct so I am actually rather partial to Yankees. We spend part of nearly every summer up there. Beautiful part of the country and lovely people. Smile

MissConductUS · 30/07/2018 01:45

I married a man from upstate NY

Oh my God, so did I! Aren't they the best? I wonder if this mean we're related by marriage somehow. Smile

It was only a few years ago that I really started traveling upstate much. If you've never been to the Corning Museum of Glass it is so worth a trip:


We also did Cooperstown and the baseball hall of fame and looked at Cornell with my son.

SenecaFalls · 30/07/2018 02:56

I haven't been to the Corning Museum, but as we are big baseball fans, we have certainly been to Cooperstown. We also visited the Farmers Museum (aka Hops Museum) there which was really interesting. I think that the area around Cooperstown is spectacularly beautiful, especially in the -fall autumn.

spamm · 30/07/2018 03:50

This is so funny, as I am lying in bed in a hotel in the Hudson Valley. I have been on MN since 2005, but used to live in the U.K. Have been in the US for the last 9 years, but in VA. We are here as my son is at rugby camp at West Point. The US MN contingent is obviously growing!

CraftyYankee · 30/07/2018 08:56

Miss I'm an American who now lives in the UK. We live in London and are here indefinitely for my husband's job. I was born in NY, went to college upstate and lived in Philadelphia for 20 years before moving over.

I miss my friends, proper air conditioning and Target. I don't miss worrying about guns, especially random school shootings, or having to listen to the current idiots in politics.

MissConductUS · 30/07/2018 08:57

We are here as my son is at rugby camp at West Point.

I'm quite close to WP. What town are you staying in? Do you have activities planned while he's at the camp?

MissConductUS · 30/07/2018 09:16

Seneca - CMOG is great fun. You can watch them blowing glass objects and they have studios you can sign up for where you make your own glass objects to take home. They have a great gift shop too, and the museum collection is fascinating. Our high school runs a trip there every year for the juniors that I go along with as a chaperon just so that I can go back.

Crafty It's always nice to meet another NY'er. Smile

Annabelle4 · 30/07/2018 09:18

Would the average American person know what Rugby is?

GhostsToMonsoon · 30/07/2018 09:41

When people hear your accent, are they curious about why you're here - especially in the Midlands, where there aren't many Americans?

MissConductUS · 30/07/2018 10:09

Would the average American person know what Rugby is?

Yes, it's a popular sport, especially at the college level. Just up thread, spamm mentioned that their son was at Rugby camp at West Point this summer.

Avalla33 · 30/07/2018 10:45

I'm glad that people are enjoying the thread! Also that I'm not a national embarrassment. Grin

I'm trying to go back and catch questions I missed. If I missed you, my apologies. Feel free to give me a nudge and ask again! If I'm repeating myself, ignore me!

Do you miss frozen custard? I can't even get it here in NY.
Ooh, a frozen custard from Culvers would have gone down well in the recent heatwave! We've been surviving on ice lollies and Magnums.

What have you noticed is different about UK style?
You do seem very fond of tights, which I've done away with completely. They're so oppressive! I think that fashion and style are going to be so subjective based on where I came from and where I live now. I find it fairly comparable in that sense. People in the Midwest and the Midlands tend to dress for practicality rather than fashion. I've lived in other places where the fashion is totally different and more about style.

That being said I feel like there are far more floral patterns here, and perhaps stripes as well?

Are we seen as having a problem with alcohol?
I'm going to say no to this, because I'm not sure that most Americans are aware of the difference in drinking styles (or quantity). And Americans are hardly teetotal! I know what you're talking about though, the sort of "gin o'clock" signs and jokes about wine.

We definitely have the jokey wine signs in the US and they are not totally unpopular. It's hard for me to really distinguish between drinking habits because so much is dictated by my own opinions and experience. To me, bragging about alcohol intake isn't very classy (sorry!) and seems something more relegated to college students or a macho environment. It's not something I associate with middle class moms though some certainly drink as well.

So perhaps it's not so much about who drinks more, but about how that is communicated in society? I am surprised at how often people drink and how much they may have at once. Also we don't have the Mail splashing photos of drunken women in the streets at every opportunity. @CraftyYankee Also makes an excellent point about drunk-(drink-)driving as well. The culture in the UK is miles ahead of the US in that regard.

How do food portions compare? I always imagine enormous portions when I think of eating in the US
I was surprised at how large many of the portions are here in the UK! I feel like a dinner at a nice pub here is comparable to a sit-down restaurant in the States, though that obviously can vary. In the US, I think it seemed more consistent. If I ordered a meal somewhere, I had an idea of what the size would be (usually large). Here I'm not sure if it will come with a few pieces of lettuce and onion on the side, or a massive amount of greens, a few sad chips or a proper portion.

Things that are directly comparable can be smaller, for example a McDonalds meal. I know the drinks are smaller here and I wouldn't be surprised if the fries were as well. I don't often eat my entire meal in the UK either, as the portions are still too large, but it's often an awkward amount leftover. Too much to waste, too little to be another meal.

Do you still spell words in American English?
I do! Though it's starting to change and I know I'm using different terms. Sometimes it blurs and I stop and think "Wait, is that how they say it here or how I said it back in the States?" I'm actually self-conscious about using British-English spellings. One reason is that it feels like part of my identity is disappearing, and as silly as it is, I sometimes want to hold onto it. The other is that I'm not sure what rate is appropriate. Will people think I'm trying too hard to sound like I'm British (like that video of Meghan Markle that caused a stir). Or that I'm being too American and that I need to adapt to the language here? I feel like Ross in Friends, trying to phase out his fake accent and doing it at the wrong pace.

It's definitely more normal to take half your food away with you, which I loved doing as well. My ex used to joke that I was more excited about the leftovers than eating at the actual restaurant. Not everyone takes food home though, some finish their meals while others leave the rest to go in the trash.

@CraftyGin interesting! I think it's one of those things that is changing at different rates across the US. I have watched plastic bag "bans" come in to at least two different places I've lived in the US so I'm hoping we will see more environmentally friendly practices in the future.

OP posts:
Annabelle4 · 30/07/2018 11:07

Thanks for answering all my questions Grin

ShotsFired · 30/07/2018 11:20

This is a really tiny thing, but anyway....

@Avalla33 I understand that when Americans put your name in a hat to win a prize, this is called a "prize drawing" (that we call the more succinct "prize draw")

So what do you call the thing you do when you use pens or pencils to make a picture on a piece of paper? (We call that a "drawing", that you, er, "draw" Confused )

draw is a funny word once you type it several times in quick succession

MissConductUS · 30/07/2018 12:17

So what do you call the thing you do when you use pens or pencils to make a picture on a piece of paper?

We call it a drawing as well.

MissDollyMix · 30/07/2018 13:31

Not a question but, as a Brit who lived in the States for a while, I've really enjoyed reading this thread! Great answers by the OP (you seem so lovely!) and other American posters. I was very homesick when I lived in the US but thinking back there are some things I really miss. I also missed proper Taco Bell - for years! I was so excited when they opened one in my home town but it doesn't taste the same as US Taco Bell!! Sad I also miss proper Philly Cheese Steak, Halloween and and all your lovely malls (and the looong Sunday trading hours) especially your fab book stores. It was a long time ago now - it all feels like a dream. I'd love to take my family back.

Candyflip · 30/07/2018 17:29

Why do Americans say boo-ee for buoy, yet don’t pronounce buoyant boo-ee-ant?

Avalla33 · 30/07/2018 19:29

I agree that the media can be a little one-sided, where Americans aren't exposed to the same levels of UK media. And it can definitely lead people to believe that they know what American life is like. It's hard to capture because the climate and culture varies a lot around the country. Of course it would, there's so much space! I suppose that's part of the reason I'm astonished by the strong cultural identities here in such a small amount of space.

Actually on that point - do you have roads that go into huge areas of mountain country that no one's been to in decades?
I don't know about decades, but it's possible! There are certainly areas where people can live fairly undisturbed. I think unless someone has been to the US and driven a great distance it's difficult to get a true sense of scale. If you live in a village here, the houses are still likely to backed in very closely and you're not that far from the next village. I haven't visited all of the UK but it seems like you don't truly feel alone, the way you can in many places in the US. I grew up in a fairly rural area and my friends often found it a bit creepy! Wyoming has been mentioned, and is a good example. I had a quick look on Wiki and it estimates the population of Wyoming at about 6 people/mi². To put this into perspective, the pop/mi² in the UK is 704/mi². For the whole of the US, wiki lists the population density at 86/mi². This is where I got the figures from, for anyone that's curious.

You have moved from that vast continent to a country slightly smaller than Oregon. Do you feel conscious of the fact that you now live on a very small, very crowded island?
Hi Bonnie! Absolutely, I'm aware of it. It didn't get to me immediately, but we took a trip up north to Northumberland and I realized that this was the most open, forested land I had seen. I find myself missing trees and green spaces. The newer estates feel like seas of identical brick boxes, stamped and cut in a factory. It goes from road to brick house with often little green space in between. And if there is any, it is usually occupied by cars! I've lived in major US cities so it's not as if I've never lived around people before. But it feels strange for even more rural areas here to feel so connected and close. I miss space.

Just how much hatred of the home office visa process do you have? grin And have you calculated just how much money it's going to be to get IDLR? (Word of advice: don't)
I've been known to have a good rant. Grin In all honesty though, I feel lucky to even qualify for the process and be able to afford it. Most of my anger for the Home Office is for all the people who don't even have the opportunities that I have. The ones who have lost their jobs and their homes and healthcare and families because of bureaucracy. My parents were immigrants and I've seen many friends and relatives struggle with even visitor visas in the US. So I think I went into this process with a slightly different perspective and a tougher attitude. I've found many people here surprised when I tell them a little bit about the process and of course there are those who assume that getting married to a Brit means you are automatically a citizen. The truth is that it is a difficult process and I worry every time I am trying to re-enter the country. It is difficult to settle here knowing that I don't have the right to permanently reside. Also knowing that if our marriage were to break down, I would have to fairly quickly leave and return to a country where I no longer have a home or a job. We are continually saving up for the next application because I know that the fees will keep going up. And of course saying no to all the companies asking us if we'd like to go paperless. No thank you! Are you settled here now or partway through the process?

@CraftyYankee I miss Target! If I could import one store, it would be Target.

Would the average American person know what Rugby is?
I think that MissConduct is correct in that the average person would be aware of it, though perhaps not overly familiar with it. I imagine everyone has heard of it.

When people hear your accent, are they curious about why you're here - especially in the Midlands, where there aren't many Americans?
Yes! I can tell that people are surprised when they first hear me speak. They're often curious and I think it has helped me meet people. The range of responses is pretty funny. You have the people who politely enquire if I'm Canadian. The ones who ask "Why on earth would you move here?" and the ones who tell me "I would never want to live in America." I've often been tempted to say "Good job I didn't ask you to!"

So what do you call the thing you do when you use pens or pencils to make a picture on a piece of paper? (We call that a "drawing", that you, er, "draw" confused )
This has been answered, but yes, that is a drawing as well. When you think about it, we use the word "draw" to mean many different things. We draw pictures, curtains, baths, guns. We draw on experience, we draw winners for a raffle. We are drawn to people and places. A tie in a game might be called a draw. It has so many meanings yet we manage to distinguish them from context.

Thank you! This thread took off far more than I expected and I'm really enjoying hearing from so many different people. How long were you in the States and how long ago was that? Do you ever think about doing an extended trip back?

Why do Americans say boo-ee for buoy, yet don’t pronounce buoyant boo-ee-ant?
We do, but only around other Americans. It's a bit of a secret handshake to distinguish if we're talking to a fellow patriot.

In all seriousness, it's just one of those things that make sense when you are used to it and don't make sense if you're not. We slightly change pronunciations all the time without thinking. Photograph and photography, for example. I can't explain why buoy is pronounced differently between our two countries, but if it helps, there are loads of names here that make no sense to me as well.

OP posts:
squashyhat · 30/07/2018 19:38

Do you agreee that Jed Bartlet was the best president you never had?

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