Things I Should’ve Learned Before I Moved Across the Atlantic

There are many things that I should have learned before I moved across the Atlantic and I often think about this when I see posts on Facebook expat groups. I wish I’d bloody known that before I moved here, I sigh to myself. Here are some of those things…

1. The postal services on both sides of the Atlantic sometimes leave a lot to be desired so occasionally you might have to wait a little longer than expected for a letter. A few months ago a postcard arrived from my mum over a month after she’d sent it with the words “mis-sent to Taipei” stamped on it. What worries me the most is the fact that post apparently gets misdirected to Taipei so often that they have a stamp for it. Someone had sarcastically circled the USA at the bottom of the postcard and written “not Taiwan” which kind of made up for it.

2. The countries have different standards for many things and it sometimes catches people out. This includes everything from DVDs to electrical power; US voltage is a lot lower so kettles tend to take longer to boil (trust a Brit to notice this). In March 2009 President Obama gave (then British Prime Minister) Gordon Brown a kind gift of classic American DVDs which sounds nice until you learn that they were region specific and wouldn’t work in the UK. If it makes the President feel any better my mum gave my wife a British DVD for Christmas that wouldn’t work in the US so don’t fret Mr. Obama, these things even themselves out, okay?

3. The actual immigration process is a massive anticlimax. After waiting for a year for my visa to make its way through bureaucracy I had expected to feel something when it came to officially moving to the US. I don’t know what exactly I expected to happen; maybe my green card would be handed to me by an eagle that soared majestically out of the sky (I have a vivid imagination and I’m not sorry for it). When it came to it, however, sitting in a quiet side room with people who were trying to locate their lost luggage and waiting to have my passport stamped was not exactly Ellis Island. My green card didn’t arrive until weeks later, either.

4. Sausage rolls can move me to tears. In case you don’t know sausage rolls are pork wrapped in flaky pastry and popular at lunchtime and for picnics in the UK. I hadn’t seen one in the US before so when I saw sausage rolls on the menu of an Australian themed café in Boston on Sunday it was an emotional moment. I never thought that I would type those words. I’m lucky that I can get a lot of British chocolate, cheese and things like Marmite and baked beans but fresh products like Cornish pasties, cakes and proper cream are much harder to source on this side of the Atlantic.

My first sausage roll in the US…

5. People find the way that I say the letter ‘h’ really funny. There are two acceptable ways of saying the letter h in British English; aytch and haytch. I use the latter and before I moved to the US I didn’t realise how people would find it funny because both forms are common in the UK. So whenever I say H&M or even HR people are amused and I’m standing there thinking it’s a bloody letter! I had expected to catch some heat for the letter z (we Brits say ‘zed’ instead of the US ‘zee’) but I had not expected to be stabbed in the back by the trusty h.

To be continued…

What did you think?

31 thoughts on “Things I Should’ve Learned Before I Moved Across the Atlantic

  1. Thanks for making my afternoon – I just had this visual of the soaring eagle taking a nose-dive, landing on your porch – or your shoulder – with your green card in its beak 😀

  2. One question – is a green card actually green in colour or is it one of those things that *used* to be green but aren’t any more and the name has stuck?

  3. I had never had a sausage roll until I moved to the UK; they are EVERYWHERE here! Although I’m a tad wary of them now that I’ve had a couple “dodgy” ones.

    I also find it hilarious how my boyfriend and his family all say “haitch.” And the number “Sicth” and “bazzle” (baysal) along with a barrel of others.

    I liked the bit about the stamp, a very funny observation 🙂

    I did know about the DVD thing quite early on but I only realized a couple weeks ago (I’ve been here nearly a year now) that movie ratings are much different than in Canada. We went to see what I wrongly assumed would be a fairly tame movie rated 15. I was quite shocked about the movie when we came out of the theatre so looked up the rating in Ontario, Canada which was 18A and rated R in some parts of the US.

    I will do better research next time my man picks the movie lol

    1. Haha yeah I’ve noticed ratings for films are stricter in the US!

      There is nothing worse than a soggy sausage roll (or one with a bad filling) but when done right they are great. I’m sorry you have had some dodgy ones!

      Thanks for sharing your observations, I’m glad your boyfriend says h the proper way! 😛

  4. Well the hubby brought a suitcase full of UK region dvds with him when he moved. But since his laptop and xbox systems are all still UK region we get around that just fine. But for all that though, you can get a region free DVD player, they work pretty great. Hopefully the President and Gordon Brown realized this. 😛

    1. For some reason my UK DVDs don’t play on my UK PlayStation here which is really strange, I think because of the TV. I was going to buy a region free DVD player after I moved and never got round to it, perhaps I should put it on my to-do list! 🙂

  5. How do Americans say ‘h’? Without the ‘h’? But then I’d be Aylee… To be fair, all Americans who’ve heard me say my name think I’ve said Harley, so yeah. Looks a damn good sausage roll though!

    1. They say the h (except when pronouncing ‘herb’) as aytch like a lot of people in the UK but people don’t say haytch here so if, like me, you do then it really stands out! It was a pretty tasty sausage roll! 🙂

  6. In central Texas, we have kolaches, which are slightly sweet rolls with sausage (or other fillings) in them. Sounds a lot like what you’re calling a sausage roll! If you ever decide to venture down this far, you’ll definitely have to give one a try.

  7. I had a sausage roll problem when I moved from the English west-country to Scotland. In Scotland a sausage roll can be as you describe or it can be a roll with sausages in. There is literally no way for provider and providee to differentiate between the two so you just hope for the best and accept what you’re given!

      1. Neither had I. Generally if somewhere serves sausage rolls it also serves sausage rolls which really doesn’t help! There are lots of others, juice for example tends to mean squash not fruit juice and on the west ‘ginger’ means not ginger beer but all types of fizzy drink. It’s a culinary nightmare!

  8. Bea

    So from your picture, I can only assume that a sausage roll is a bit of sausage rolled in a bit of puff pastry. I’m sure your lovely wife could whip some up for you if you’re not able yourself!

  9. “Not the USA”, hyuk hyuk!
    So when you actually ate the sausage roll, you still weren’t disappointed, right? I’ve had my moments since my trip to Europe where I’m terribly disappointed by what Americans call “french bread”. Our pretzels might look like German pretzels but the taste leaves much to be desired. The closest I’ve found to a German pretzel was a pretzel bread from an Australian restaurant, go figure.

  10. We say zed here in Canada too. Looking forward to reading more
    about your experiences in being an immigrant. I am an immigrant.. I can relate.
    Regards, Rosie

  11. Pingback: Things I Have Learned Since I Moved Across the Atlantic – Old England to New England

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