06 May 2009

A Public Service

Our one-decade milestone for first moving to the UK looms a little over a year and a half out, and in the time we've been here we've raised many an eyebrow and uttered many a "you're kidding" at the small truths about life here we've uncovered in our stay as guests.

While the employers that relocated us here have provided useful resources to help us adjust to our transition, the reality is that no amount of briefing will prepare you for the occasional odd thread that is woven into the fabric of life here in the UK. Well, threads that are odd at least to American eyes.

We've come to appreciate, and in some cases warmly embrace, these differences in our ways, but we've never entirely let go of our amusement and occasional amazement at how two peoples who seem so similar can conduct much of life so differently.

None of these differences is so huge, nor are Brits so unaccustomed to the parochial ways of most Americans, that visiting here without taking these differences into account will result in any hostile response. In other words, being plain "American" won't result in you being chased out of the town by torch- and pitchfork-wielding villagers, nor will it get you laughed out of the pub if you say "mate" or "cheers". Generally.

But being armed with some knowledge of local customs can go a long way in improving your interactions with a people who are, by and large, a pretty delightful bunch of folks. And even if you're not going to visit the UK, I suspect that you'll still find yourself amused by the differences in ways of life that you've long taken for granted.

Thus, this blog aims to provide a "public service" to Americans to help them gain some insight into the significant (and not so significant) differences to expect in a visit to this island nation, and to prepare them better than just making sure they have enough pound-denominated travelers checks. I hope these tales increase your fondness for the British in the way they have done for me over the years.

And that's about as sentimental as I intend to get.

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