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.
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?