Americans vs. Brits

Yesterday, I scared my American friends by posting Happy Mother’s Day! Turns out America celebrates this on a different day to us Brits – May vs. March here. I hope I didn’t panic anyone too much 🙂

This got me thinking about the differences in our lives on different sides of the Atlantic or across the pond, here are my thoughts:

Language

Even though America evolved from Britain, we have different slants on the English language. Namely:

  • We like to put the ‘u’ in words that Americans take out e.g. colour, flavour, and mum.
  • We write dates different e.g. yesterday would be 03/04/11 over here and 04/03/11 in America.
  • Over here bill means what you get at the end of a meal to tell you how much to pay, over the pond, it means paper money. We say biscuit, you say cookie. We say trainers, you say sneakers. We say holiday you say vacation.
  • Our common phrases are different, I’ve picked out the one I have heard the most in each country:
    • Have a nice day! (US)
    • See you later! (UK)

Education

America:

  • Kindergarden
  • Elementary school
  • Middle school / junior high
  • High school
  • College – where you major in a subject

UK:

  • Pre-school / infants
  • Primary school
  • Secondary school, sometimes add sixth-form college
  • University – where you read or study a subject

American high school is a huge part of film culture and I’m always amazed to see how big they are, how many extra-curricular activities are on offer and how seemingly segregated the groups are – cheerleader’s jocks, indie, geeks. It made me laugh!

Generally, schools here are smaller and less university like and they seem stricter. We also seem to have less defined cliques although my school did have an indie music group. We also usually have uniforms where as your public schools seems not to. I’m quite glad I had a uniform, I find it hard picking clothes for work now and I think I would have gone crazy having to do it at school as well!

I think we also had different words for the opposite sex – boys vs. guys, girls vs. chicks, fit vs. cute, fancy vs. crush. Still probably as hormonally charged though 🙂

Age limits

Over here we can drink at 18, over there it’s 21. Sex is 16 here and 18 in America. We drive at 17, you drive at 16. We can all vote at 18 though J

Sport

We have football, you have soccer. You have American football, we have rugby. You have basketball, ice hockey and baseball, we have cricket, snooker and we both have golf. I’m sorry to say I’m not a fan of sport in either country!

TV

One big difference is we call our British TV long-running programmes (or shoes in America) as a series whereas you call them seasons. Most British series run for under 13 episodes whereas American seasons run to up to 24 episodes. Phew.

I’m a big fan of American TV – mostly because the budgets are much bigger over there so the shows are more-like mini-films every week. We tend to have smaller teams on the programmes over here i.e. one writer writes a series or several whereas American shows have bigger teams, probably to keep up with the number of episodes.

My favourite US shows past and present are:

  • Glee
  • Sex and the City
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Supernatural
  • Fringe
  • Alias
  • Dawson’s Creek
  • Gossip Girl

One of our TV channels shows Friends almost every day and has done for years. They are stopping this next year and I may get withdrawal symptoms!

Just to keep the balance, here are my favourite UK programmes past and present, check them out if you can:

  • Doctor Who
  • Gavin and Stacey
  • Absolutely fabulous
  • Spooks
  • The Bill (why did they cancel this?!!
  • Allo Allo – an oldie but hilarious and very un-politically correct.
  • I heart costume dramas, my fave ones have been –
    • Pride and Prejudice (BBC)
    • North and South (BBC)
    • Cranford (BBC)
    • Jane Eyre (BBC)
    • Downton Abby (ITV)
    • Lost in Austen (ITV)
    • I also watch the soaps Eastenders and Coronation Street. They annoy me a lot but it’s an ingrained habit, I’ve watched them for many years and it’s quite nice to flop in front of them in an evening and switch off from my own crazy life so I watch even crazier ones on TV!
    • X Factor:
      • Our biggest reality TV shows X Factor is heading to America soon to take on American Idol. I actually prefer American Idol because the judges on X Factor are mentors and compete with each other so it just ends up being bitchy and not about the contestants. They’re also given far less room to choose their songs and style and it all ends up being cheesy pop. Simon Cowell is also getting far too smug. However, it is addictive and I end up watching every year. You have been warned!

Food and drink

I am a big eater, I love my food! America is one of the best holiday destinations I’ve been to food wise because portions are big and yummy and drinks get refilled for free, which is very rare over here. It’s also usually great value. I did end up eating a lot of burgers though. I also like to eat big breakfast and at the weekend usually have an English breakfast (fried eggs, fired bread, bacon, baked beans) so I enjoyed the fact Americans also offer big, hot breakfasts like scrambled eggs and streaky bacon or pancakes.

I have visited America three times – twice to New York and once to Vegas and had a great time. If I ever left Britain I’d move to America. I’d have to bring chocolate with me though – sorry guys but your chocolate is not good, and of course, tea because you guys have way too much coffee for me, I hate the stuff 🙂

Have you noticed any differences since joining the blogging world? Did I miss any?

Vix

xx

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76 thoughts on “Americans vs. Brits

  1. I enjoyed this…when I read what your post would be about…I thought “cool…I hope she talks about TV and food”..Interesting. How about big book obsessions? I know over this way (well, I’m in Canada…but), Harry Potter and Twilight and Hunger Games = a big rage = transformation into movies…other popular ones seem to be Diary of a Dorky Kid, self-help and fitness books (these are HUGEly written and purchased), celebrity bios, etc…
    any major big “hits” over that way? or are all these common to world-wide?

    • I think books are fairly universal, it’s one country may get it first and then sell its success in the home country e.g. America bestseller on the book cover. Harry Potter is completely huge and everyone love JK over here, Twilight is also big but was a slower burn and it took the film to really set it off over here (I brought it when no-one had heard of it lol). Our bookshops now have big sections dedicated to young adult dark romance books like Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments, Shiver, The Immortals etc and actually most of those writers are American and they’re set in America. I’ve not heard of the Diary of Dorky kid but maybe that’s for younger kids? Self help is not as big here as it is for you guys, the Milenium trilogy is pretty huge at the moment and non-fiction wise – cookbooks and TV link-ins e.g. Jamie Oliver.

      • As a primary school teacher, I can confirm that Diary of a Dorky Kid is huge amongst the 8-12 year olds. Though on this side of the world it’s called Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Haven’t read it myself yet, but looking forward to it.

  2. I loved this post! It was wonderful! I knew most of the differences but not all of them. And I have to agree with you, your chocolate and tea are both better! 🙂 Hopefully sometime I’ll get to visit over there and get to check out the differences for my self but I definitely loved this! 🙂

  3. There truly are so many differences – but I enjoy that because I enjoy experiencing other cultures. It is helpful to see that the way I grew up is not the only way – helpful for perspective in life.
    Much love,
    B

    • Yes, they abandoned it for a few years and then brought it back less cheesy and more modern. I was too young really first time round but I love the new series 🙂

  4. There are so many more differences we could write a series of books, ha!

    Don’t worry, we have plenty of tea here, too – you just have to know where to look. I’m a tea drinker. I’ve always been a tea drinker, even though my parents were both coffee drinkers (my mom has since switched to tea).

    I love English breakfasts! I don’t really like American breakfasts. I used to love AbFab, but I haven’t found it here in a long time. BBC America is one of our fave channels (my husband loves Dr. Who and all those sci-fi shows).

    Ta!

  5. Tea Drinker of America unite! lol Not much of a coffee drinker here…but you can find good tea if you look for it.

    I think you are right about books being more universal. I loved the HP series and the Millennium Trilogy. It will be interesting to see how the American films compare to the originals and the books.

    And I didn’t know that you ate beans for breakfast!

    • I feel a fan club coming on 🙂 You have good taste on books I’m pleased to hear. I haven’t seen the Sweedish films, they sound pretty gruesome but often remakes don’t work – we shall have to wait and see. Yep beans for breakfast is good, you can soak up the bread!

  6. This is a very fun post to read 🙂 Everything in Malaysia is very similar to the UK side because we are a commenwealth country. Cheers for cmpiling your observations 😉

  7. That’s a comprehensive and very impressive list ya put together!
    I am a Brit living in Australia and have also lived in America. We could never get decent bread in Florida, or chocolate! We can here in Oz though – they sell Cadbury’s – yaaaaay!
    I still miss some of the British shows like AbFab, Only Fools & Horses, Eastenders. Don’t get them here. 😦

  8. Yes! Glee and Doctor Who= my favorites. 🙂
    See, this is why I’m moving to the U.K. when I’m older. I think the language is prettier, too.
    But might I ask, what the heck is snooker?

    • Yay to those shows! Ooh exciting plans, I hope you do get to come here! Some of our language is foul 🙂 snooker is a bit like pool – you pot balls on a big green table in colour order.

  9. Cadbury chocolate is soooo yummy… There’s a local chocolateer pretty close to me that I would say comes pretty close to Cadbury… When you make your way over here I’ll take ya to it (except they’re closed through the months of June, July and August). 😀

    I’m a tea drinker all the way…Bleh to coffee; I have to drink decaf though.. Caffeine is a big no-no for me, only have it on occasion.

    Differences are there, but similarities are present also or else we wouldn’t be able to converse so well in the blogging world!

    Hmmmm. Beans for breakfast. Never tried it, not oppossed to it! LOL. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!!!

    • Hah I’d love to come over there and eat chocolate and drink tea with you. You’re right, we’ve proved we’re pretty similar 🙂 I love brekkie too, you should try the beans!

  10. I love this post Vix. There are so many little details that are different, but even worse is there are so many different little things we say here in each area. I still say dude and cool. I can’t help it. And I don’t think I could go to many other places, except for Hawaii without them raising an eyebrow.Also jumper means sweater, I am still trying to figure out how y’all came up with that one. I love tea too, but I dig coffee also, and I like to say it like my hometown CAW-FEE. I think finding good chocolates means looking for a good place. Like costplus has european chocolates, and in California there are tons of specialty stores. I like British TV too, I love Richard Armitage, the people seem more real, over here it’s so plastic. OK, this is getting too long, sorry…

    • Maybe jumper comes from the fact it’s hard to put them on you sort of jump around to get your sleeved in?! Your accent sounds cute 🙂 I totally love Richard Armitage, I can’t believe I left Spooks off my show which he’s in, I’m adding it in now!

  11. I love your blog posts, seriously, they just make me smile.

    I used to work in the trading sector so I dealt with a lot of guys in London and loved how they said brilliant, holiday and cheers! (at the end of every phone call) When you all type words with u, it warms me up on the inside!

  12. Pingback: Americans vs. Brits (via littlemisseverything) « Tinkerbelle86's Blog

  13. My sister just moved back to the Czech Republic from London so I always enjoyed hearing bits and pieces of how the British culture is different than others.

    What is really funny to me, was living in China which is very influenced by the British culture and language because most of their English classes are based on British English. So for the longest time I had this weird mismatch of British English/Chinese/American English. 😛 Being back in the States the past 7 years has definitely brought back my roots. I no longer spell words with the “u”s, I don’t often call my Mother “mum” anymore, my weird British/American/Chinese accent is gone and replaced with a lightly Southern American accent. Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this. Fun stuff! 🙂

  14. I LOVE this. especially because I spent three years growing up in Newcastle, UK! 🙂 I can relate to all of the differences. But I have to say, I do have American taste.

  15. I wonder why we Americans adore British accents? Because I bet over there you aren’t saying “Oooh, I love your American accent!”, are you? Funniest word I can think of is when my Australian friend said to me she had a “ladder” in her pantyhose (a rip/tear)… we call them “runs” or “runners”… but of course there is petrol vs. gas. As for the food, I think often it’s not that it’s better or worse but what you are used to – my husband is from the East and I am from the West, and I used to make fun of his family for getting excited when their still-back-east family would send a box with bread loaves and bags of potato chips (crisps?), as if you can’t get those things in California!! Hilarious.

  16. Hello,

    I always used to be a massive fan of american TV Shows. But after living in America for three months last year I definitely think British TV is better. There are lots of great series but the majority of their tv is terrible. Americans have so many more channels than us that the percentage of good watchable tv is like 15% percent. American broadcasters also try and remake english Tv series which apart from the Office usually fail disasterously e.g Life on Mars and they even tried to remake Spaced. Also a lot of american tv shows are lead by British actors, Hugh Laurie in House, Damien Lewis in Life and Tim Roth in Lie to Me. Apart from good shows like these most american tv is filled with rubbish shows like ‘cheaters’ and ‘the hills’ or they show reruns of old shows. There are also ridiculous amounts of really bad long winded adverts- mostly about drugs and fast food chains. And finally my pet peeve… mid season breaks!!! why??? They will be in the middle of a season of house or supernatural and suddenly nothing for weeks, sometimes months.

    I dont hate America, I promise and there are plenty of shows I do like. But British Tv is just quality an British actors are amazing.

  17. I’m in Australia, and let me tell you, we are a complete mix of both countries (with more of a British lean), food-wise and language! But then we have bizarre made-up slang too that even I can’t understand sometimes! We have the same school system as the Brits, but our language also differs from state to state! For instance, in Sydney they might call them ‘trainers’ and in Melbourne we might call them ‘sneakers’. I loved this post- such an interesting read 🙂

  18. My son thought the stewardess on the plane was joking – his exposure to British English was limited to Monty Python hilarious films and sketches. I had to stop him before they threw us out of the plane! She just asked if he would like to have some water…and the giggles began!

  19. I agree that we are different. It may not seem like it from the outside, but if you dig a little deeper you can see it. I plan on stuudying abroad in college and (hopefully) heading to England. It seems like a very interesting place.
    I enjoyed your writing 🙂

  20. American pants are English trousers; whilst in the UK pants are underwear. You can imagine shock of my English parents in law when one time, quite early on in the relationship with their son, I said something about taking off my pants because it was hot.

  21. THis is a great article! I really enjoyed reading about the differences. I would love to visit England sometime. I’m obsessed with your accents, I think it’s beautiful. My friends and I always try to talk with English accents and think we do a pretty good job, but you would laugh at us. 😀 I’ll be reading more! Thanks!
    P.S. Check out my blog, I just started it and would really appreciate some input or advice!
    http://fluffyglutton.com

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  23. I’ve found that surprisingly, American television shows are also very popular in China. Almost every Chinese person who I introduce myself to says, “OH! Your name is Rachel? Just like the show Friends!” Who knew that Chinese people were watching Friends? I have been asked a million times whether or not I’m a fan of the show Vampire Diaries (I’ve never watched it)….vampire culture is very big in China. They also enjoy dramas like Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives–even the guys! Guys in China are not afraid to watch “girly” TV shows. Of course they have Chinese TV shows in every genre here too–soap operas that air at all hours of the day, crime shows, historical dramas, and game shows. The other night I was watching a bit of China’s Got Talent….so funny!

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