Top 5 culture differences

Channeling my inner John Cusack I have tried to assemble a  top 5 list for differences between what I call American culture and British culture.  I know there are more than 5, and these may not really be the top 5, but they came to mind.  Chelsea was kind enough to contribute hers too, so that’s where I’ll start.

Chelsea’s top 5:

1.  Tea.  I don’t know whether other drinks exist before about 8pm.  After 8pm, beer takes over.  Until it’s time for a nightcap, which is tea again.
2.  Many things are much more formal and titles (Professor, Dr. Mr, Miss) are very important.  And, everyone is so much more polite to each other when they interact.
3.  The cars are much smaller.  As are the roads.  On a side note, about the only US-made cars I saw were Fords, which I found to be an odd choice.  I wouldn’t recommend somebody buy a Ford unless it was a truck or a mustang…
4.  Everything is so much older.  People at Cambridge University talk about the “new” buildings, which are older than both MSU and Cornell’s entire campus.
5.  Breakfast actually IS the most important meal of the day in England.  You have to see some of the “fry ups” they have!

Nick’s top 5:

1.  How polite the people are.  Maybe we only hit the good parts of England, or at least the touristy ones where people get paid to be nice to you, but I noticed that most people are very polite and friendly.  Especially in a city as big and significant as London, people were not nearly as abrasive as say New York City.

2. Its much easier to carry around 10 pounds of coins in your pocket.  I blame this on the pound.  Those damn little coins worth 1 and 2 pounds are easy to collect and hard to remember they are worth as much as the much lighter notes.

3.  They like warm ale.  Not room temperature warm, but cellar warm.  I had been warned of this before I went, and wasn’t too affected by it.  I actually think the flavors of ale comes out once its warmed up a little bit.  They even have taps labeled “Extra Cold” or as I like to call it “American Cold”.

4.  Tipping is much different.  I’ve been told that because the hourly wages for waitstaff is not nearly as painfully low as it is here in the states that a 10-12% tip is plenty.  I was also informed that you don’t tip the bartender after being served.  After all, it is his job.  And I’m not sure if you have to tip taxi drivers or not.  Can anyone help me?  This whole tipping bit was much nicer than the guy driving the port authority-JFK bus who basically demanded a tip in order to fetch my bag.

5.  Soccer (football) really is king.  I used to feel like I realized this before, but no way.  I was told intricate stories by taxi drivers about their favorite teams (it helps that I asked who is their team, and why should I root for them).  I picked up a newspaper on the tube (subway) and of the 25 pages or so of news coverage/advertisements 13 of them were related to soccer. crazy.

What do you think?  Any Brits care to contribute?

2 thoughts on “Top 5 culture differences”

  1. I totally agree with you on the “cellar” temperature of ale. Beer flavors, and wine flavors, get lost in the cold. I’m not sure if it has to do with the temperature of the beverage, or the fact that sometimes my tongue goes a little numb when I get a beer off the tap. I know it doesn’t matter much to the average guy who wants a cold Bud (better to hide the taste anyway), but I would enjoy being served something that didn’t immediately frost the glass when I got it. If bars and restaurants can be convinced on not chilling everything to 35 degrees, think of all the energy that could be saved.

  2. Never tip anything more than about 12%, that’s a decent tip. 10% is standard. I usually give the cab driver some, but just round it up to the nearest couple of quid (pounds 😉 People are WAY more polite up North- London is in fact pretty rude in comparison. And the beer is REAL ALE not the watered down shite like Bud you have to have cold. In fact, you should serve it on ice so that it’s exactly like soda. Pound coins are ‘quirky’ and feel like real pieces of eight or something. Oh, and there ARE no other teams than Manchester United…Just talkin’…

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