5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 4

Expat Hate

We’ve had another installment of 5 Things I Love about being an Expat in America so, it’s now time for 5 Things I Hate. As always, these aren’t things I necessarily hate, just things that I find different/weird/annoying about life here in the States. Ready? Here goes!

1. Cracks in toilet doors.
You weren’t expecting me to write that one now were you? It seems the people who build toilet cubicles in America can’t get their measurements right, ever. Just about every single toilet you go in has a crack between the door and the cubicle frame. Sometimes, they’re so big that if you look at the wrong time, you might actually make eye contact with the person who’s in there. Shocking. Hideous. Just plain wrong. Why would I want to see someone while they are on the toilet? Why would I want someone to see me while I’m on the toilet? Talk about an invasion of privacy. I’m pretty sure it isn’t for safety reasons seen as though the gaps both above and below the cubicle are also huge. Sort it out America, I don’t want to have to accidentally make awkward eye contact with another person whilst they’re having a pee again.

2. Credit card security…of the lack of it.
Using a credit card is as popular and normal as taking a shower here in America. I hardly ever have any cash on me (which can cause some evil looks when I go to the nail salon and have to tip on the card receipt!) and use my cards for absolutely everything, I even use it to buy a coke from a vending machine! However, when it comes to credit card security, America is still living in the dark ages. Nobody ever checks my signature when I pay for things. Occasionally I’ll get asked for my ID which they check against my card but that is very, very rare. My credit card doesn’t have a chip on it or a PIN number (which causes me a shed load of problems when I’m back in Europe, the land of chip and PIN!) sometimes I don’t even have to sign for a purchase. It basically means anybody could use my card to pay for anything, anywhere. Scary. Take note from Europe America and get some PIN numbers installed, or at least check my signature!

3. Sweet bread.
What is it with America and it’s obsession to have everything so sweet? Cakes are laden with sugar, so much so that sometimes I can’t finish a piece and we all know that is a crime! I have to ask for my drinks at Starbucks to have half the regular amount of syrup. First world problems people. But, the thing that gets me the most is the sweetness of the bread here. Seriously, a slice of white bread is super sweet compared to a good old slice of Hovis or Warburtons back home.It’s upsetting when you’re so excited for a slice of toast (it’s a sad life I lead, I know) and when you bite into it expecting some savory, buttery goodness you get some sort of buttery sweet ickyness that is just not nice. Why, America? Why?

4. Shop assistants.
Ok, so I’m a Brit (in case you didn’t know!) and us Brits like to keep ourselves to ourselves. What we don’t like is to be pestered, and America shop assistants certainly know how to pester. I walked into a store just the other day and was, of course, greeted with “Welcome to …” which is all fine and dandy, but, she went on, and on, and on. She asked me if I was looking for anything in particular to which my reply was no, I’m just looking. That didn’t deter her. She then went on to ask me if I’d shopped here before. My reply, yes. Even the one word answer didn’t stop her, or the fact I was rummaging in the rails and only half looking/listening to her. She then asked when I was last in the store! I literally had no idea so answered with a while ago and started to move away from the rack and onto another. Then she asked me my name, which, reluctantly I had to tell her, before she finally gave up, told me her name and said to ask her if I needed anything. Now, I’m all of this good customer service but that was just a little over the top. When I shop, I like to look at stuff without being interrupted. If I need help, I’ll search out a shop assistant and ask them. Maybe it’s just my Britishness but I really don’t like being pestered in a shop.

5. Loud Americans.
Now, I know every nationality is different. I know every person is different. In America though, there seems to be a lot of loud people. Seriously. I definitely don’t need to listen to your whole, big conversation about how you’re going to Florida for the weekend or how you’re about to send an important email that will triple your workload, how you’re planning to stuff your face with Mexican food this evening or that hot date you have planned whilst I’m trying to get some work done. I’m sure I know every aspect of some people’s lives just from sitting in Starbucks for an hour. I know I’m working in a public place and I do expect some noise but I expect it from the person next to me, not the person at the other end of the coffee house! I guess it could annoy me because us Brits are a little more reserved and like to keep ourselves to ourselves. It definitely doesn’t help when you want to concentrate on something though!

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15 thoughts on “5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 4

  1. Great post! I agree with most of this and I’m American although I’m always annoyed that I can’t use my credit card more often in Europe. I have to carry my passport around everywhere just to pay for groceries which makes me feel more unsafe, as I’m always worried I might lose it. I just think it’s no big deal to have to check your credit card statement every month and credit card companies here are really good about refunding you for unauthorized purchases. Usually they call you if someone has your card or is using your number and you don’t have to call them.

    Cracks in the toilet doors can create many awkward moments indeed! I remember that once this crazy woman just pressed her eyes up to the crack to purposefully freak me out! I didn’t know this wasn’t an issue in the UK but if I spent more time there, I guess I’d notice.

    Loud Americans is something that’s relative I guess. Are Americans loud compared to Brits? Yes! But, compared to Aussies or Greeks or Argentinians? I don’t think we’re louder. Also, as you’ve acknowledged here, it’s not everyone. I think certain types of people in the US are louder than others and it’s somewhat regional. Like, people in the Pacific NW are quiet, but yes, people in the South are very excitable and can be quite loud and inconsiderate. I can definitely see how you think there’s a lot of loud Americans coming from the UK!

    • Thanks for the lovely comment! I really think America should introduce Chip and Pin – it’s so much safer with credit cards and universally used!

      Jeez…I hope that crazy woman is never in the same restrooms as me! That would have been so scary!

      And yep, it’s not everyone and they’re definitely not louder than other nationalities. I think it’s just that I’ve noticed it a little more since living over here, especially when us Brits are such a reserved nation!

  2. Yeah I really don’t understand that loo door gap, I can’t even think of some logical reason why there should be. It’s just wrong. So very wrong, I try and get my bag to hand over the gap, somewhat but yeah. It’s weird. I dislike American bread, the basic everyday bread a lot. It’s okay as toast, but on the most part, ew. I need a breadmaker for sure. The whole bank card thing is weird too, the US seems really against to step up card/bank security even after all the hacks with Target and the Home Depot.

    My bug bear atm is the lack of manners, no one seems to say thank you for holding a door open or just smiling. It’s weird, that or i’m overly nice and being grumpy is a norm?!

    • I’ve heard a lot of people from Europe complain that we smile too much so that’s interesting that you feel we don’t smile in return. I guess, like you said, a lot of Europeans don’t like the fake customer service smile but I thought a lot them were saying that we smile too much all the time, no matter the situation. I do resent aggressive salespeople and shop assistants and I don’t know why they think that even helps business.

    • Ooh good idea on the bag! I’ve never thought of that although I do hang my bag on the hook so maybe I’ve be doing it without noticing! A bread maker could be the future in this house too, we get some good bread from the farmers market but unless you eat it that day it’s not so good. You’d definitely think with all the hacking security would be stepped up. We did get a credit card with a chip on it not so long ago but still no pin. It might help when we’re back in Europe!

      I know exactly what you mean. A couple of times I’ve been heading towards a door seconds after someone has walked through it and they’ve let it shut in my face!

  3. As an American who doesn’t like to be bothered when shopping I can offer two suggestions. 1. Smile, say hi the first time and if they keep talking say something like, ” I’m really just looking right now but I’ll let you know if I need any help”. 2. Call someone on your phone or at least pretend to be involved in a phone conversation. Works every time!

  4. Check on the wide gaps of the toilet cubes. Such an oddity! It is a treat when you get to use toilets without the gap

    Everything here is extra sweet. It is kind of annoying. MAYBE a bad example, but the Americanized Chinese food in Panda Express is just a one note sweet & gloopy all the way. But I do love their Potato Bread, which is more an East Coast thing. Such a treat because it is a rare find here in Texas.

    • I always get excited when there isn’t a gap in the toilet door and a chance someone is taking a peak in! So weird why they do that!

      The cake frosting is the sweetest – 2 mouthfuls and I’m done which might actually be a good thing!

  5. The thing about the gap in the door is true. It’s also true that there’s so much water in the bowl that you get a bit of splash back.

    The bread thing I don’t agree with. I think that it’s a stereotype that comes from hideous, generic white bread. I live in Australia now and have lived in the UK and the bread that I was used to in NYC was of very good quality.

    I can’t agree about the loudness factor, either. Americans are certainly no louder than anyone else in the English-speaking world.

  6. I grew up in Wisconsin and in the North of America you won’t find many people overly bubbly or friendly to strangers. The down side of that is you are also invisible and it’s hard to meet friends. While I loved visiting Germany I really didn’t care for their opinions about everything being told to me. I am a stranger, I am American, but no I don’t care about your political views and think you should keep them to yourselves unless I really like you and we happen to be sloppy drunk, then let’s argue 🙂

    You should eat whole wheat bread, not white bread. In America, you need to be far more careful what you eat because most things will make you fat and you won’t get exercise if you drive everywhere. If you have a Whole Foods nearby, I would suggest shopping there or some similar place.

    I can be loud from time to time, but I don’t particularly care for loud Americans either 🙂

    • I think it’s the Southern Hospitality down here which I do really like. I love people being friendly to you but there’s also a time and a place for it and when I’m shopping, I like to shop!

      I’ve definitely changed the way I shop living here. I seek out farmers markets for fresh produce and naturally raised meat, I was so shocked at the size of the hicken breasts over here which are obviously not normal and pumped with hormones and water. Whole Foods is another good one, I’m all for natural!

      Everyone can be loud from time to time! 🙂

  7. Love this series (just discovered your blog btw)! As an American living in France, I can relate as well and so glad France figured out how to make bathroom stalls without the little space. Sometimes it takes moving abroad to see how your home country gets things wrong. America does a lot of things right but clearly not everything 😉

    • Welcome along! Glad you like the series (I really need to get another series of posts done for this!) seriously, what is it with the bathroom door cracks?! I know what you mean, there are things I think about from back home and look at in a different light since moving to the States! x

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