Coming to the UK has obviously taken some adjustments, but I think we’re finally starting to get there. Here’s a couple of things that took me a little while to come to grips with:
Money: UK money is definitely better than the money in the USA. For a start, it’s pretty much the strongest currency in the world, which does wonders for sending it back to Australia! Secondly, they have a logical progression of coins (i.e. bigger coins are worth more than smaller coins), and similar with the size of their notes. On the down side though, the notes take it to extremes – they’re so tall that they barely fit in my wallet! Check out how big the
£30 £20 (thanks Ben!) note is in comparison to a US $20! (Note: they’re about the same length.)
Whilst on money, it’s also taken some time to get used to what prices really mean – or more specifically, we have had to readjust all our “baseline prices” so we can work out if things are good value or not. For example, in the USA, to pay $2.50 for a latte (in Manhattan at least) would be quite good value (or quite a bad coffee). In London, if you paid £2.50 for a latte, you’d want it to be poured by a Melbourne Barista, complete with the Mona Lisa for latte art; and it should be made using beans grown by nuns in the Italian alps, flown in that morning by helicopter and ground in front of you using a mortar and pestle. (Actually grinding by hand would be horrible, but for the price you just want to make sure they’re working for their money).
Accents: It took me a few days to adjust to the default accent being English. When ringing someone on the phone or talking to an assistant in the shop, we’re used to getting a rude, blunt, American voice in reply – New York style, baby! So it was very strange to all of a sudden be dealing with all the variants of the English accent – from the lovely “In’nit, yeah?” of the Chavs, to the well annunciated and rounded (and much preferred) accent – Simon Cowell style. Suffice to say, it was at least a week before I could successfully understand anything that people were saying to me, without having to ask them to repeat themselves.
I’m sure that the longer we live here, the more “normal” these things will seem, but it’s interesting to find all the “little things” from everyday life which differ between different countries.