The Same…Only Different?

5 Differences between America and England:

1. American English and British English are totally different things!
While they are technically the same language, it took quite a while to get used to learning to understand the differences between British and American English.  There are many phrases and words that are used in America that mean completely different things in England.  For example, in England fries are called chips and potato chips are called crisps.  Also, sweaters are called jumpers, classes are called modules, and a bathroom can be a “loo,” “W.C.,” or “toilet.”

2. “Always Look Both Ways Before You Cross the Street!”bus
My mother always told me this as a child and it most definitely applies here in London!  In London, when driving a vehicle, drivers drive on the opposite side of the car and as well as the opposite side of the road.  The city even has “Look Left” and “Look Right” painted on the streets at intersections to help visitors and pedestrians stay safe.

3. Mind the Gap!
Public transportation is a way of life here in London.  I was born and raised in the Midwest of the United States and attend a university in Florida.  Because of where I lived in the States, I usually drove or rode in a car.  I have never really been had to rely on public transportation until I arrived in London.  Having a car is not very common in this area and most teenagers don’t get their licenses like they do in America.  Most people in London rely on buses and the Underground to get around.  This requires you to know which buses go where and the “Tube” route.  Always make sure to mind the gap between the station and the train when getting on the Underground!

4. Timing is Everything!
My first week in London, my friends and I learned that unlike in America, stores and restaurants in England are not open for extensive hours.  After walking around to about twelve pubs and restaurants at around 8 p.m. one evening, we discovered that most restaurants stop serving food around 7 p.m. This was good to discover early on in our semester! Also, most restaurants and pubs have lunchtime and happy hour deals on food and drinks! Timing is everything!

5. Being a Student has its Perks!
I have found that back home in the States I can sometimes get discounts at places such as the movie theater simply for being a student. Here in England, students get discounts on just about everything! Usually when buying tickets to amusement parks and other places in the States, ticket prices consider anyone over 18 years old an adult and charge an adult price.  Most places in Europe do not charge adult rates to people under 26.  This age group is thought of as students or youth and gets great discounts! Being a “poor college student,” this was music to my ears! From food to entertainment to transportation, there is a discount for just about everything! As long as I show my student ID card, I can get discounts at clothing stores, restaurants, and many historic museums and landmarks (most even allow you in for free!).

Learning these differences over the past few weeks has been a challenge at times, but it is so exciting to see how two countries that appear so similar can be so very different!

Lisa Valentine, Palm Beach Atlantic University, London Spring 2013

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