1. Do my American friends like me for me? Or for my ‘adorable’ british accent?
The struggle to differentiate between people who actually like you, and people who know you purely for the novelty of a ‘new friend from England!’. At first it is hard to distinguish between the two, but you can normally tell these two apart when the latter stop parading you around like a show-pony, and get much less excited about the ‘amazing British accent’. To be honest, I kind of like the attention regardless.
This leads me onto my next point.
2. The struggle of finding an American family to take you under their wing for thanksgiving break.
Having never celebrated Thanksgiving before, I was excited for a Christmas dinner a month early, except much less Figgy pudding and more pumpkin flavoured everything. There seems to be an unspoken agreement among all exchange students that with no invitation to a Thanksgiving, you haven’t managed to immerse yourself well enough into American culture. I decided that if I didn’t have a home for the holiday secured by the time Halloween rolled round, I would consider my fall semester a failure.
3. The weightgain
Having been a fresher two years ago, I know all the tricks to boycotting the freshman fifteen pounds. So I blame my American weight gain on three things. Firstly, the sugar content in food is so much higher here – the bread tastes like cake and the cake tastes like heaven. Secondly the Starbucks Frappuccino’s are half the price that they charge in the UK, and thirdly restaurant portions are double the size. One trip to the Cheesecake factory had me with boxed up pasta left-overs for the following 2 days.
4. Essential college toolkit
I wish someone had told me that it was compulsory to walk around armed with a macbook in one hand and a Gatorade in the other.
5. School pride
Why do I feel pressured to transform my wardrobe into a complete seasonal range of my University’s apparel? I do really enjoy everyone’s school pride and enthusiasm but I also don’t want to be the only one in a lecture hall not covered in Uni garb. Also whilst we are on fashion; for all female students, you have to be wearing Sperrys when its hot, and Uggs when its cold. It seems to be an unspoken rule.
6. Student housing
I have been to parties hosted in cool, stylish apartments and 4-bedroom houses as big and spacious as something I would hope to be able to afford in at least ten years – all with students paying half the rent that I pay for a grubby shared house in Birmingham (England’s second biggest city). In England, students are used to houses-turned-squats, bathrooms decorated with mould, and notoriously terrible landlords.
7. The American drinking scene
Americans don’t do pubs. And the bars here are not comparable to an authentic British pub; no warm and friendly atmosphere, no cider, and most importantly the lack of a Sunday pub roast to cure that hangover.
But Hollywood was right about American house parties. Kegs, red plastic solo cups, beer pong all really exist. Not only this but some of the bigger parties actually have waiting lists or a 1-in 1-out policy. Some of the parties here feel like I’ve walked onto the set of American pie – the British could really learn a thing or two from these house parties.
8. I’ve never met Kate Middleton, and I probably never will.
With England having Buckingham palace and a cute baby prince, I find myself engaged in daily discussions about the current engagements of the Royal family. I’d much rather talk about how big and fascinating America is instead of about Kate Middleton’s winter coat choices.