Skip to content

Student Reports: Ray Henson, Difference Between US and GB, 2010

Differences between the US and GB

January 31, 2010

Ray HensonSo, it’s been a little longer than a week since I first arrived in Manchester. Since my arrival, I’ve noticed a few differences, and I decided to make a list of some big and small things that are different.

Big difference: They drive on the wrong side of the road! I refuse to accept that they drive correctly. I think some guy played a cruel joke a long time ago and he just never came clean. This difference makes it sometimes perilous to cross the road. I have to look both ways each time I cross the road, or else I risk being hit by a taxi or, more likely, a double decker bus. They act like they own the road!

Small difference: When the light is about to turn green, the streetlight flashes both the red and yellow lights.  It honestly makes a lot more sense. I wish they did this in America. It lets the traffic know when to start moving, and I think it helps the traffic a little bit here (which is horrendous).

Big difference: Everything has multiple floors! I guess it makes sense because there is limited ground space, but I don’t know how many times I was baffled by trying to find something and then realizing there is a magical 2nd or 3rd floor to the store that I was completely missing. The ASDA (or the British equivalent of Wal-Mart) had two floors with special shopping carts that could ride the moving walkways up to the second floor! Nifty.

Small difference: The floor you enter is the ground floor, the second story is the first floor. This one has thrown me for a loop multiple times. Although it happens in the US on occasion, everyone follows this scheme here and it leads to more time for me being lost (which happens a fair amount with my absent-mindedness)

Small difference: Because cars drive on the right, people have the tendency to walk on the side of the road facing traffic. Same here, except it’s opposite. I always feel like I’m going against the normal flow by walking on the wrong side of the road.

Small difference: You have to pay for plastic bags, they cost a few pence apiece. I’ve heard that a few stores have started to follow this new trend in the US, but over here it’s pretty commonplace and odd to me.

Small difference: Apartment = flat. I don’t really understand this one, considering my “flat” is three stories. Explanation please.

Big difference: Mailboxes are red and cylindrical! I almost don’t notice them or I mistake them for fire hydrants. I blame my lack of mail back to the US so far on this difference.

Small difference: The food labels are in kJ and kcals instead of the fun Calories system. I think if they started using kcals instead of Calories in the US, everyone would flip out. (Note: 1 Cal = 1 kcal, so one Calorie = 1000 calories. It’s kind of confusing, and probably why they never changed it.)

Big difference: the plugs are goofy looking! They still have the same format (in/out/ground), but they are much larger. Traveling around Europe will be even more fun with different plugs everywhere.

Big difference: Most sinks have 2 faucets, a hot faucet and a cold faucet– not a combination. This one I will never get used to. It’s either way too cold or way too hot! And the hot water in the building is a bit spotty at times, so half the time it comes out in spurts and splashes. It’s more exciting that way.

Well, it’s not a comprehensive list, or really even organized, but I think it will do for now. Tomorrow is my first day of class, so I am going to bed relatively early to see what British lectures are like. I only have one lecture a week for each class, so I see the lecturer (professor is reserved for people with 20+ years experience, a title earned) for an hour each week. Should be interesting. I’ll post back once I get into the swing of things with classes.