5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 1

OK, so hate is a strong word. When I say hate I don’t mean it, it’s more like the things I find different/that annoy me/that I miss about good old England! That’s a lot to fit into a title and hate is the opposite of love so we’re gonna go with it! So, me dearest American readers, please do not be offended or think that I hate this beautiful country of yours because I certainly do not! I LOVE it here! There are just some differences I find weird/difficult to get to grips with!

So, following on from the 5 Things I Love about being an Expat in America…Part 1 – here is the flip side…

1. The time difference.
Living 5 hours behind your friends and family can be tough. Technically they’re living in the future and you’re in the past (I know this isn’t true but sometimes it’s how it feels!) and giving them a quick FaceTime or Skype takes some planning! For a start when you get home from work they’re in bed and when you get up in the morning they’re already at work. At the weekend when you want to give them a quick call before you go somewhere they’re already out because it’s mid afternoon so there’s no way you can talk to them unless you put your plans on hold or make sure you’re home early enough to catch them before they go to bed. In a nutshell, the time difference is PANTS.

2. ‘I love your accent!’
I think Americans wish they were British, or at least talked like us! Just about everyday I get the question ‘Where are you from?’ my reply is then quickly followed with ‘I love your accent!’ During one trip to Starbucks I had the exact same conversation with 2 barista – the first took my order, asked where I was from, obviously said I love your accent and the usual how long have you been here, I want to go to England and then the shock appears on their face when they realise England is actually dull and rainy! Then I went to collect my coffee at the end of the bar and guess what conversation I had? Yep, once again I got where are you from, I LOVE YOUR ACCENT, how long have you been here and the shock when they realise England is actually dull, wet and rainy on most days. It just never ends!! Every American loves the little British accent that makes its way out of my mouth and I think wishes they could have it instead of their American one. In fact, whilst out perusing the shops of Marietta, we spotted this little beast for the fridge:

Hate 1
Obviously it came home with us! The German reckons the quote is very true in our house…I don’t have a clue where he gets that idea from! Haha!

3. Having to go EVERYWHERE in a car.
I miss being able to step outside of my house and walk somewhere. To the shop, to the pub, to work, to see friends, everywhere I go in Atlanta, unless it’s the pool on my apartment complex (although some of our neighbours even drive there!), I have to take the car. There’s no way around it, Atlanta is not a city for walkers! The local supermarket is literally around the corner (well in American terms, it’s probably a couple of miles away!) but, with no pavements (sidewalks!) to use it’s a bit tricky to walk there, even if I wanted to! We used to stroll to our local pub back in Leeds, there’s no way we can do that here! For a start, we don’t really have one close by and yet again there’s the lack of sidewalk problem! This means there always has to be a Des, also known as a designated driver, and that person is quite often me! (I should point out that the German does take the role of Des sometimes, I’ll be in trouble if I don’t!) And if we decide not to have a Des, leave the car and get an Uber home we then have the hassle the next day of going to pick the car up! Ugh. The European in me wants to walk!!!

4. American humour.
Americans seem to have a different sense of humour to us Brits. They’re a pretty serious bunch and sometimes don’t appreciate it when you attempt to crack a stupid joke that usually involves you making fun of yourself. Here’s an example: So, when we moved into our apartment complex, the guy sorting out our lease was telling us how we can rent the clubhouse for parties and things. Now, we’d already told him we’d just moved over from England, he was aware of that, so I came out with the line ‘that might be hard with our non-existent friends?’ My attempt at making fun of myself didn’t go down well. He looked at me with a deadly serious face and moved straight on to the next point in the lease agreement. Whoops. Lesson learned there! The British humour definitely failed! When he told us our mailbox number was 69, both me and the German smiled at each other but realised we should keep that little comment to ourselves! Now, I’m not saying this is every American, I don’t want to fall out with you guys at all! It’s just a little observation I’ve made over the last 12 months!

5. A proper cup of tea!
Being a Brit, I can’t live without a proper cup of tea! It’s our staple drink, we drink it morning, noon and night (the German’s started doing that lately and realised it’s not helping him sleep and actually keeping him awake because of its caffeine content! numpty!) but it has to be just right! Before I arrived in the land of the free (America that is!) the German was already here and he’d stocked up on British Blend Tetley tea. My thought – Amazing! The boy has done good! However, once I got here and tasted the supposed ‘British Blend’ tea, I soon realised it wasn’t the real thing! I don’t know what was different but it just didn’t taste the same! Booo. All that has changed now though thanks to Pa Cook! Yep, before I waved goodbye to England again a few weeks ago, Pa Cook made sure there was a HUGE bag of proper tea in my suitcase! PG Tips to be precise and it is delicious! Thanks Pops! The German reckons there’s way too many tea bags and we’ll never get through them but I’m adamant we will and I’ll be bringing more back on my next trip home! We’ll see who’s right…

Kettle

A proper brew!

Are you an expat? What do you hate (I know, strong word but you know I don’t mean that!) about your new surroundings?

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29 thoughts on “5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 1

  1. I’m not offended at *all* and totally related/understood/laughed at your observations.

    I have to agree with your #2 observation – what IS it with us Americans and another accent? 🙂 But I have to admit to loving my husband’s Norwegian accented English when we first met, and students I had at the time were all “oooooo, I’ll bet his accent is sooooo sexy!” (Not so sure my American accented Norwegian is as sexy over here, but I can delude myself, eh?!)

    Your leasing agent sounds like an uptight gentleman with no sense of humor (“gentleman” was the most polite word I could come up with). I totally laughed at your comment when reading it.

    What do I hate about living in Norway instead of the US? Only two things: From this side of the pond I’m 6 and 7 hours *ahead* of my family. And Norwegian is so difficult for me to understand! (But after seven years, I can see it’s finally starting to come together in my 55 year old brain.)

    OK, a third thing. I hate being so far away from my adult daughters. But that’s a choice I made, so it’s more a part of my momma-empty-nest syndrome, and less about being an expat.

    Thanks for another enjoyable post, Rachel!

    • Phew! I’m glad I didn’t offend you! I was pretty scared about this post! Haha!
      The American’s just love another accent! The German has a cute accent sometimes too although it’s not very German! Most people can’t decide where he’s from – I think someone guessed New Zealand and South Africa the other day!!
      I definitely think if we moved to Germany instead of America I wouldn’t have settled as easily purely because of the language barrier so I can definitely understand your Nowegian is so difficult to understand point! It must be so tough to live in a country where you don’t speak the language, although being submerged in it day and night force you to learn it quite quickly! Or at least enough to get by!

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. People always think i’m Australian or just can’t understand me at all, I know I have a bit of a Yorkshire accent, but I don’t think it’s that bad?! Metro Detroit being the home of the car and the freeway means walking is rarely can option, which annoys me no end. I dislike the lack of a real high street in some of the suburbs around me too, the post office is at one end, the Target at the other, everything else is all over the place. I don’t think having is that way builds up much of a community in my view anyway.

    As for tea, I guess i’m lucky in that in the stores around us (Kroger and Meijer) we can get Tetley tea in the regular tea selections, also Yorkshire Tea is readily available around here too. I think i’m one of the lucky ones with that though!

    • Haha! People are like that with the German – they sometimes think he’s from South Africa! Random! I hate not having a high street too – having to drive 3 times to do 3 little errands really annoys me! And the fact that one is at one end of a massive strip mall and the other at the opposite end!

      On the tea front I think you can get it in our local Publix but it costs a fortune!! There’s the Yorkshire lass in me, not wanting to pay above the odds for a brew!!

  3. My Top 3 List
    1) Real Bread !!!! Not the stuff which a German would use for insulating the windows
    2) Strange laws on alcohol. I am 54 and still have to show my id when ordering a beer in certain places. If you don’t drink beer in Bavaria latest at age 15 you are considered to have some kind of disease.
    3) Traffic. No comment needed

    • I agree with all 3 Karlheinz! I think the bread point is more important to the Germans than the Brits, it being part of your staple diet but its definitely on my list too! On the alcohol one, my 66 year old mum was asked for ID when she was over here – stupid! And the traffic…unbelievable!!

      • Sure, but think about it. Once you start letting people use discretion, they are going to start making mistakes. What about the 15 year old who looks 25? etc. My 85 year old mom is obviously not a terrorist, but she has to take her shoes off and all the other craziness at the airport because either the rules are for everybody or somebody is going to slip through the cracks.

  4. I love this post! Just found your blog (because you followed me on twitter!) and this post totally rings true of Americans. I have written a post on what I miss about the US, but haven’t yet gathered the courage to write what I dislike about living in Sweden! Looking forward to following your blog from here on out.

    • Hey Samantha! Thanks for liking the post! I was kind of worried posting something that included the words ‘hate’ and ‘America’ in the same sentence!! I didn’t want to make some new enemies! haha! You should definitely pluck up the courage to write it! It took me a while but I got there in the end! I’m gonna go check out your blog!

  5. Not offended or surprised by your post here. There’s a local McDonalds near me with an attractive clerk with a very attractive British accent. I resisted asking her about it for a long time but couldn’t control myself forever. Turns out she’s from North London. She doesn’t seem to mind the attention she gets though seems she lays it on a bit thick (the accent that is).
    And you would probably be surprised how many Americans hate the layout of American urban area. Sometimes it’s hard to believe Georgia is one of the 13 original colonies. So much of it seems to have been planed and built my a Mall developer just yesterday! I hate the lack of sidewalks too. Have since I was a little kid growing up in small town Georgia.

    • Glad you’re not offended – that was the last thing I wanted to do! The North London accent is pretty strong!! Most people also assume I’m from London as if that is the only place in the UK!
      I really wish I could walk places…I was so used to it back home, in fact before we moved out here we shared a car! The German realised that was never going to happen about 3 hours after he landed in Atlanta! I’m glad it’s not only me that finds it frustrating!

  6. My husband gets the accent thing a lot, although people often think he is Irish/Scottish/Australian/Kiwi/South African, basically everything but English. And someone once asked him if he was from Alabama. Um, sure. When I lived in the UK I hated the small fridges, the separate taps for hot and cold water, and the washer/dryer combo, basically every complaint of every American living in the UK 🙂

    • Ha! That’s what the German gets when people try and guess his accent! They never guess German! Alambama? Now that is NOTHING like a typical British accent! I’d forgotten about those small fridges – I don’t know what I’d do if I moved back now! I’d be demanding an American fridge!!

  7. I am an American expat living in “Little Michigan” aka Shanghai, China. I am from the southern United States and I get the “Where are you from?” and the patronizing “your accent is so cute” comments from other expats living here ALL the time. I can’t understand why people living overseas, who were born in a nation with many accents are so surprised to hear another accent!
    Also, if I made you a list of all the things I hate about China…..you would probably doze off before finish it!

    • I had the ‘I love you accent’ twice in the same queue at Chipotle yesterday! Twice! You should definitely do a list about what you hate about China – I would love to read it. I’m sure there are some things you love too?

  8. Regarding #4, though I am very familiar with British humour, I would interpret this statement as sarcasm, which he may have done, in other words “how can you (…be so stupid to) suggest we would have parties, a few days after arriving (and not having any local friends).”

    I also often fail to see the humour in certain US sitcoms but Seinfeld definitely had a lot!

    Regards,
    Anya

  9. I’m glad to read that you really enjoy living in Atlanta. I was born in South Africa and my parents moved to the US in 1974. My dad was a native South African but my mom’s family is from London originally. As I was five when we moved to the US I don’t have an accent anymore, but my late father used to get a lot of women commenting on how cute his accent was.

    I’ve lived all over the eastern US but Atlanta is by far my favorite city. So much to do, active people, low housing costs, decent restaurant costs, plenty of sports teams, etc, etc. Often Atlanta gets attacked in the national press for its sprawl, heat and need for a car to do anything. I agree these are somewhat true, but if you compare it to what it has to offer I find much of the criticism is just jealousy.

    • Atlanta is a fab place – I definitely love it here although I do miss being able to walk places! I’m happy to give that up to live here though! I do still get the accent thing though, I think living with a German means I’ll find it difficult to lose my accent which I’m pretty happy about! Atlanta is definitely an awesome place to live!

  10. Having moved from London to literally the middle of nowhere in the center of Nevada 4 years ago, my experiences are somewhat similar to yours, whilst also having to contend with (very) small town rural life and a ridiculously long drive of approximately 4 1/2 hours to get back to something resembling civilisation (Reno, or Las Vegas) just to get to Walmart/Target etc. I have experienced everything in your post to some degree, and I too have family and friends bringing ‘real’ tea to me whenever they can! The time difference here is 8hours which actually is better as we can make contact with the mothership mid morning on a weekend and it’s after dinner in the UK. Regarding the whole, ‘I love your accent’ phenomenon – here it’s slightly different in that most people recognise I have an accent but few actually pinpoint its origin. I get a lot of ‘Australia/South Africa’ guesses, and regardless of that, most people claim they can’t understand me. I think I have a fairly neutral accent with very little dialect from any part of the UK, so my only option is to think that they just don’t try to understand me because I’m ‘different’ – trust me, to a redneck out here, anything different isn’t worth spending time on hence always looking forward to getting back to the city and relative anonymity!

    Anyway, time to read parts 2 and 3, plus the ‘things I love’ blogs’….. keep up the good work!

    • Thanks for stopping by! I think most expats have the same experiences. I can’t imagine having to drive 4 hours to some sort of civilisation though – that must have been a huge culture shock from London! Hope you enjoyed parts 2 and 3 – part 4 could be on its way soon!

  11. I hear all of this! Moved to Missouri about 5 years ago now.

    No one understands a word I say! My humour gets lost and frustrates me how SERIOUS people are here. Hello… SARCASM??? I’m fooked when it comes to doing stuff. I don’t drive so I have to wait for my wife to take me out, and if lucky its once or twice a week! Gone of my Southampton days of walking out my door heading 10 mins into town anytime I want or less to the corner shoppie.

    Yeah, I’m still finding it tough here. I still watch my UK TV and buy and drink my PG Tips about 4 times a day. I’m more of grumpy sod but maybe thats an age thing now lol.

    I still hate hearing the word “soccer” too, argghh don’t know why that grates on me?!?

    I tend to do a fake accent when picking stuff up from stores. It avoids everyone wanting to treat me like a buzz lightyear! LOL.

    And manners are lost on some here. They never say “please” when asking for anything either, well rarely. But quick to ask me how my food is the second I take a bite. And welcome me to what… a Subway… ok, great.

    Not sure how comfortable I expect life to get here after a while. Feel a little restricted. Don’t tell anyone you’re an atheist either :/

    Funny that my best mate here is English, and he’s from Nottingham 🙂

    Anyway, enough of the pissing and moaning… I followed you on Twitter. But to those other expats who would like to drop me a line you can reach me by Facebook:

    facebook.com/jth1981

    Cheers 🙂

    • Hey, thanks for stopping by the blog and following me on Twitter! Sounds like you’re not liking the States too much. I can definitely feel your pain about having to drive everywhere, when we first came over we only had one hire car until we bought ours and I was, like you, stuck in the house and I hated it. American’s definitely don’t get my humor – I’ve learned to keep my mouth closed to avoid any embarrassment! Hope you enjoy the rest of the blog and stop by soon!

    • I’m a bit late to the party with this reply, but I couldn’t agree more with you. I moved to northern Alabama one week after you made this post.

      The communication thing has got me. There are some difficulties in communicating with Americans I find; the accent is the first obvious hurdle, but behind that I find that trying to engage in humour fails more often than not. I feel kind of restricted in what I say because it seems many people here are very straight-laced and not very receptive of the dry kind of humour we’re used to.

      The manners thing too. “Give me one of these”, “I need one of those”. Very straightforward a lot of the time. I do miss the…normality and common sense of Dorset and England as a whole!

      • The American humor is definitely different to our British humor that’s for sure. You do kind of get used to it though but it is nice to head back across the pond and crack some jokes that are appreciated! Hope you’ve adjusted to life in Alabama!

  12. I really appreciate hearing your view of the good and the bad. You do a great job of of criticizing aspects of American life (almost all of which I agree with) without seeming like you have some anti-American axe to grind. You don’t have to worry about offending us!

    While it is a minority, a lot of Europeans talk about the US like it’s some Hollywood horror movie. These people offend us! But not you, and I appreciate that. Almost any American would admit that Western Europe has advantages over the US in terms of healthier lifestyle, much less violence, having a populace that’s more well-traveled and generally more sophisticated, the cluster of beautiful and historic cities and countryside in such a compact area, better mass transit, etc. I could go on! But, even seeing some of the wonderful things about Western Europe, I think the US is a great country with different advantages.

    I’m going on a tangent, but I’m just trying to thank you for offering a very sober and, what seems to me, fair, assessment of life as an expat here. I think both sides of the ocean sometimes get too emotionally caught up in the US v. Europe rivalry. The truth is that it’s difficult to compare the two because it really depends on what each individual prefers.

    • It’s so nice to hear that I’m not offending you. I always worry when I click the publish button and hope things won’t be taken the wrong way. It’s so nice to hear your comments, thanks so much! I think everywhere has it’s positive and negative points, you just have to learn to deal with them and accept them for what they are. You have to use things to your advantage and adapt to your surroundings. Thanks again for stopping by and for your lovely comment!

  13. It’s a bit grating to hear how you’re picked out for positive treatment. I’ve lived in the UK and now live in Australia and people occasionally go out of their way to be beastly to me because I’m American.

    I can’t agree about the sense of humor, either. The only difference that I see is that Americans don’t take the piss out of strangers. Brits and Aussies do.

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