Things I miss about the U.S.

You know what I am missing right now? A functioning ‘B’ key on my keyboard. If I don’t pay absolute attention, I end up with no b’s and it makes me look like an idiot. Especially when I am chatting with random customer service advisers and hit enter without looking.

Did I say customer service? Good lord. It’s pretty bad in the states, as evidenced by the hot pile of shit that I had to take from my US bank last time I called them. But here? No way is anyone going to help you with anything, ever. Everyone from shop keepers to phone reps to the McDonald’s staff treats you like you are making SUCH an imposition on them just by existing. I miss being treated with a minimum amount of courtesy  when I am spending my money.

Screens. Window screens. OMFG ENGLAND! It’s 2012 and y’all havent figured out fucking window screens. You guys, I know you will find this difficult to believe, but no one has screens in their windows. OK, some hotels on the California coast don’t bother, but that is because there aren’t any bugs. This is, sadly, not the case here. Also, air conditioning. (whole ‘nother rant) I miss being able to open a window and let the smoke out fresh air in, bug free. . HELLO FLYS HOPE YOU ENJOY MY HOME! Excuse me, Mr Hornet, would you like to come in and fly around my head? I miss the summer breeze without inviting in to my house all of creation in possession of wings.

School busses. Here we have the school run. It takes up so much of my day and way too much of my soul. OK, there are some busses for secondary school, (age +11, don’t ask me to translate school years for you, I can’t) but for primary school, you must walk them to their classroom. Yes walk. From your house. To the school. With your kids. Every. Day. I’m talking a mile or two, not just down the road a bit. So that’s 45 minutes anyway.  Then you have to pick them up. This involves standing outside the school gates with a ton of very unfriendly British mums and then waiting outside of the classroom. This takes an hour easily. Having to walk up that hill and stand there with those women is soul-destroying. Every goddamn day. I miss big yellow school busses.

I wouldn’t trade my life here for anything, but there are a few things I wish the Brits would catch from the US. This is only a sample of things that I miss. Even though I would never move back, some things are still frustrating 3 years into my life here.

Something new every day

When I was planning my move to England, I had a completely unrealistic set of expectations. Actually I only had one assumption about living here. I thought it would be just like America, only with a British accent.

 

How wrong I was.

Anyone reading this blog might assume that I don’t like it here much, due to the amount of ranting I do about it. But I LOVE LOVE it here. I would never consider moving back to the States. I am here to stay, and my children will grow up thoroughly British. Yes, they wont know the words to the star-spangled banner, and that makes me feel all weird and knotty inside, but they will have an excellent education in a beautiful, safe, accepting and inclusive country.

But I will do a lot of bitching, ranting and sometimes despairing about adjusting to living here. It is so massively different. My first two weeks here I was completely helpless. Completely. I couldn’t drive, couldn’t work the key to my front door, or the kettle, or the boiler, or the busses, or the money, my oven, the light switches. the power outlets, the washing machine…you get the idea. It was really shocking and I was so overwhelmed by being confused  about everything all around me.

For the next few months I gradually learned the basics, but I often felt that I would never truly get the hang of live here. I felt like I would be an incompetent outsider forever.

It is a common stereotype that British food is awful. It isn’t. It is lovely. Really homey and tasty. But my kids? They wouldn’t eat anything here. There was not one thing on any of the shelves at the shops that looked even remotely like food, never mind familiar food.

We lived on string cheese and chips. (crisps? I cant even work the WORDS)

I enrolled them in the local school. I had been homeschooling them in Detroit. It just wasnt safe to send them to school and the quality of the schools was appalling. They brought home a school lunch menu. I ..just…stared. Some of the words on the menu we completely incomprehensible. Bubble and squeak? Sponge with custard? Crunchy flapjacks? Spotted dick? Steak and kidney pie? WTF? Is this stuff even food?

Needless to say, that took a lot of adjusting on their part.