Saturday, January 9, 2010

Britan: A New Love

I've no idea where this came from.  I don't know if the last trip back to the US did this, or it's just part of the natural process of moving somewhere else, but, it dawned on me today:  I've *really* come to enjoy living in London.  I still have my days where I could punch everyone I encounter-especially the tourists who stand in the middle of a busy sidewalk while looking at a map-but, by and large, I've come to like more about London/Britan/the UK than I ever thought I would.
So, as I was trying to figure out where this came from-what exactly is it about this place I like, I've come up with a few things worth mention-in no particular order..
1. The Brit love of all things trivial:  pub quizzes, QI, Mock the Week...Brits love to know and talk about trivial things.  And, I don't mean 'trivial' in the 'doesn't mean much' sense, rather I mean 'trivial' in the sense of 'trivia'-ie random little bits of knowledge-that especially come in handy in conversations, pub quizzes, etc..
2. My British friends (or friends in Britan):  You know who you are, and you should know how important to me you've become.  London would not be nearly as great of a place to be without you guys!
3. British cooking.  I *so* do not mean the old, stereotypical 'British food'.  But, rather, between watching programs with Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall (extreme, though he is..); Kill it, Cook it, Eat it; my trips to Borough; or general chats with folks about food & beverages, I really have come to appreaciate the British approach to food and cooking.  I can't explain it-other than to say that it resonates with me.
4. The reaction you get from a stranger when're friendly to them.  Once the 'oh, you're American' reaction has passed, I think most Brits are shocked by coming into contact with friendly stranger.  It's become a bit of a favourite hobby of mine while here-when I can, I like to strike up a simple chat, make a comment, or do something that I guess could be percieved as a random act of kindness.  The British reaction is priceless:  stunned, confused, accepting, and then a bit appreciative. Excellent.
5. I've said it once, and I'll say it again:  Pork.  Sausage, bacon, name it.  The Brits know pork like you wouldn't believe!
6. The history.  Perhaps stating the obvious, but the history of this country-and what still remains to remind me of it every day, just amazes me.
7. BBC News.  Especially the intro music.  Love it! :)
8. I know I've mentioned this on more than one occasion as well-but it's still true:  the proximity to Europe-and the relatively inexpensive ability to get there. 
9. Facebook.  OK, I know that techincally, this has nothing to do with the UK, but it does allow me to feel like I'm still a good part of my friends' lives back in the US-to the point, that I don't feel like I'm missing out quite as much as I otherwise would-which would definitely be difficult to deal with on a prolonged basis.  Because of Facebook, I feel like I've got the best of both worlds (literally) right now.
10. 25 days of vacation-plus holidays.  Again, maybe I'm stating the obvious...but, 25 days is STANDARD.  You'd be hard pressed to find a company who didn't give this to their full time employees.  From day 1.  Name me one American company that does this, nevermind 10, or 100...

Well, I'm sure there are dozens-if not hundreds of other, small reasons I've come to enjoy living here (Boots, cocktails at The Dorchester...).  What are some of your reasons expats, that youve come to enjoy living in the UK?  I'd like to know-perhaps there's something else I can do/experience/learn about & add it to the list!


  1. I totally agree with # 4 (acts of kindness)! Every time I take a trip into London for the day and buy a Zone 1-2 travel-card, I always hand it to someone at the ticket machine when I arrive back at London Marlybone station to head home. The looks of shock and appreciation are priceless!

    Another thing I love about England is the extensive, clean and reliable (for the most part) public transportation system. It may seem pricey at times, but it is extremely convenient compared to what is available in most of the USA.

  2. This list reminds me why I loved living in London myself! And now that I am on Vancouver Island, reading this makes me want to return to life in London. Ahh...the grass, tis always greener no?

    Thanks for all that you do!

  3. I really love the Post Office. Bearing in mind they are not affiliated with the bad labor mojo of Royal Mail, my closest Post Office branch is in a thatched cottage circa 1600 something and contains the English equivalent of a 7-11. I can get all the emergency items: milk, a newspaper, a Bakewell tart. There's a tearoom upstairs - I've even taken company to the Post Office. Besides mailing, you can pay your utility bills, get cash, open a savings account, get forms for a driving license, get foreign currency, buy insurance, and even claim your lotto winnings! My postmistress saved me from myself and declined to send a huge package to the US for Christmas (I was initially provoked), but told me how to repackage it. I saved 30 pounds thanks to her! Maybe urban post offices aren't this quaint, but I enjoy going postal.

  4. FYI - you'd be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn't give 5 weeks of vacation to their employees because they have to - by law. British companies aren't given the choice. If there wasn't a law, I have no doubt they would offer a similar number of vacation days as American companies.

  5. Great post, I can totally relate! I remember when this first started happening to me and now I have lived in the UK long enough that I experience it both ways.

  6. My wife and I are considering a move to London in a year or two and I'm convinced. I love your blog and I'll keep reading.