Between what my mom told me and what I observed, there are many things different in Britian. I decided to keep a little record of it so I won’t forget.
The most obvious difference between the UK and the US is the language. Yes they speak English, but it’s quite different from the way we talk. I found this great website that tells what a lot of the British terms mean; The Best of British – The American’s guide to speaking British… Some of the words I have already listed in my previous posts (e.g. subway=tube, lemonade=Sprite, etc.). Watching the UK version [the original] of Big Brother I figured out what “snogging” is and what a “cheeky monkey” is.
All of their banknotes have a picture of the Queen on them. I asked what happens when she dies. Apparently when Queen Elizabeth passes on they will slowly introduce new money. Also, they have a lot more coins then we do in the US. They have a coin for one penney (1p), two pennies (2p), five pence (5p), ten pence (10p), twenty pence (20p), fifty pence (50p), one pound (?1), and two pounds (?2). Then their banknotes begin at ?5, ?10, ?20 and so forth.
While we were the exchange rate was around $1.80. So for every ?1 that we spent, we were really spending $1.80. So it was expensive for us. Everything was almost double. That ?24.99 jacket I bought at the Gap cost me $48.99. The ?1500 hotel bill was really almost $3000. It’s outrageous. It took me a while to realize that the prices weren’t that bad. For the Brits. The Gap had jeans for ?49.50. Well in the States we would probably find Gap jeans at around $49.50. They get paid in pounds. We get paid in dollars. So it’s really the same. But for us to use USD to pay for merchandise priced in pounds, it was crazy. Just think, for the Brits to come to America it’s like half price. That must rock!
Their TV is quite different too. Not the TVs [or Tellies] themselves, but the programming. They get anywhere from 2 to 7 or 8 channels of BBC programming [depending on where in the UK they live]. And the BBC channels have no advertising. No commercials. Instead each household pays a “Telly tax” of like ?50 a year or something. If you don’t have a telly you need to prove you don’t have one and you won’t have to pay the tax. Or if you have a black and white telly your tax is less. They have a couple of channels of American TV on SkyOne and SkyTwo and so forth. On those channels they get some of our shows like Desperate Housewives, House, CSI, Cold Case, etc. They also have cable or digital TV in the UK. They have a few cool game shows that I think we need to bring to the US. We
stole borrowed Big Brother, American Idol and the Weakest Link, why aren’t we bringing over some of their “word play” game shows? There is this one show where there are two teams of three people. Each round they have one word. Each member of one team gives a definition [only one of them is correct] and the other team has to guess who is telling the truth. They are very hard words so it’s not as easy as you’d think. I loved that show.
Many of us have seen pictures of the UK telephone booths.
But did you know the mailboxes are different too?
Their transportation is slightly different too. You’ve seen the double-decker buses. The old buses had open stairs on the back, but they are gradually replacing all of those. Apparently people who were running late would run after the buses and leap on to the steps. Sometimes they would make it. Sometimes they would not. Mom said she has seen at least one lady being dragged by the bus. So now the new buses are still double-decker buses, but they no longer have open stairways. You can only get on to the buses when they are stopped and the doors are opened.
Their taxis are different too. They look like old fashioned cars. Their main taxi service are the “black cabs,” but they do have other services too. Many of their taxis have advertising all over them.
We were in a posh neighborhood so we saw a lot of expensive cars; Mercedes, BMW, Jaquars. We drove by the Porsche dealership on our way to and from the airport. The Porsches are awesome. They even have a new SUV. But many people also drove Audis or Saabs. There were also these little, itty bitty cars. They are little two-seaters and allow people to get in and out of traffic quickly. But they are funny looking [and least to us they are].
And, finally, their paper is different. We have our typical 8.5×11, but theirs is slightly longer and not quite as wide. I printed a bunch of stuff for my math homework and when I got it home and tried to staple it together with some stuff I printed here it wouldn’t match up. Crazy.