Chelsea and I are both really starting to enjoy England, now that we have some stability in our housing and jobs and have made some good friends. To be fair, England isn’t THAT much different than the USA. We speak the same language (mostly), and basically have all the same luxuries available to us here that we would back home, so on a day to day basis our lives don’t seem much different than they might be in a new city back home. However, now and again something will pop up that we really miss, and I’ll list some of these below. The internet has definitely made our transition to a new country infinitely easier than it would have years ago – when my parents lived here for example. We can communicate quickly and easily with people, and any item can be found online for the right price. That said, here is our list in no particular order:
1. Family and Friends
Of course what we miss most are those people that are closest to us. This is one of the unfortunate side-effects of continuing in academia, moving around every few years. Although, we like to think of it as a plus – we get to meet all those new people, and keep our list of friends growing. I know I just said in the paragraph above that the internet, and particularly Skype has made our transition to a new place easier, because we can send messages and have video conversations with people across the world. But we still miss the occasional random phone call or text message (Easy Ed!) to or from friends. With e-mail and social media it is super easy to leave someone a message, but it doesn’t feel the same. I suppose part of it has to do with being geographically separated too. We have to schedule Skype calls, and don’t really have the option of hopping in a car and heading home for the holiday, or down the coast to see a new house.
2. How cheap things are
Living in the USA for 28 years, we have definitely taken for granted all the stuff we can get for cheap. I’m pretty sure that I have mentioned before that stuff is more expensive here. Basically, if something costs $5 in the USA, its a good bet to be around £5 here in the UK. That makes it $8.10. Not a big deal, until you consider that our salaries do not also follow this same rule. Stuff here is just more expensive than it is back home. Actually, it was cheaper for me to order our X-mas gifts through US websites during Black Friday weekend, have them shipped my parents, and then have them shipped here, including the customs fees (still don’t understand why I have to pay tax twice), than it would have been to pay for them here. I don’t get it.
Above is a picture I took after our first trip home this past summer. As you can see we stocked up on hard to find items, but also we bought regular old Levi’s blue jeans. Lee and Levi’s jeans cost three to five times more here than the USA, for no apparent reason. Although not all things are more expensive. Two of our favorites, Scotch whisky and Halloumi cheese, are definitely cheaper here, so we’ll load up on them while we have the chance.
3. Steak and burgers
Every American I have talked to that has spent a considerable amount of time here has a different list of items they miss most from back home. Except for this one. Everyone misses a good steak and burger from back home. Even my parents remember eating them as part of their first few meals after moving back to the USA. I don’t know what it is about the beef here, but it is terrible. The beef used for stewing/roasts/pies is passable because we tenderize it with spices and sauce for 8-10 hours in the slow cooker, but the other cuts I have no explanation for. Luckily for us, the lamb here is outstanding, so we eat lamb as an alternative quite frequently. Also lucky for us, some high-end steakhouses in London and Amsterdam fly in premium cuts of steak from the US, which we might even pay for on special occasion. Just don’t be surprised if we order burgers when we come back home to visit.
I think it is fair to assume that this bullet is mostly for me. We get to watch our fair share of sports here, and I have even enjoyed learning the rules for stuff like cricket and rugby and soccer (I can’t call it football, its sounds unnatural), but I still miss American sports. I just can’t get into the Premier league like I do with any of the US sports I follow. Yeah I can watch pirate streams of the games online – or could until all my favorite sites got their domains seized by homeland security last night – but it still isn’t the same as flipping between channels on football Sunday. The other hard part is the time change. Games that are held in the early afternoon EST I can do, but I can’t really make it through to the evening games without turning into a pumpkin. Heck, even Chelsea misses being able to watch Monday Night Football. The good news is I keep up to date with all things American sports with my ESPN podcasts and plenty of website reading.
5. BIG grocery stores
I have written about this topic before, and I think we have found a decent solution to it, which I have also written about, but I asked Chelsea what she misses about home and this was one of her points. I won’t go on and on about it again, because it isn’t that big of a deal, but we sure do miss the cheese and olive bar of Wegmans, and the dirt cheap prices and everything-under-the-sun mentality of Meijer.
6. Warm weather in the summer
This point is a bit laughable to me, because we knew the reputation for bad weather England has before coming here. And actually, here in Oxford the weather isn’t really that bad. But if I’m making a list of things I miss, warm sunny weather in the summer is going on there. It does get warmer here in the summer months, but I think it is fair to say that I never really felt the need for short sleeves, and having a light (waterproof) jacket handy is something we do all summer long. Actually, on our last trip home, we made room for all the blue jeans and strange M&M’s in our suitcase by bringing a lot of our shorts and summer clothing home. How sad. Don’t worry though, we supplement ourselves with Vitamin D by heading to the tanner (and sometimes pub next door) once a week for a few minutes. I have already promised Chelsea that the next place we move will be warm and sunny.
Not a bad list really. I’ll do some more thinking and update it if anything else pops into my head in the coming weeks. What do you think you would miss the most?