Tuesday, December 16, 2014

London Trip - Interesting Observations

I promised myself and my family that I would keep track of cultural differences. Though some of my posts have included interesting tid-bits, there were some observations that just didn't fit elsewhere. So, this post is strictly to talk about interesting observations I have made in London.

Food - I have been very surprised at how hard it is to find traditional British food. Perhaps I have just been to the wrong places, but I am seeing so many American brands (Burger King, McDonalds, Dominoes Pizza). Have the Americans conquered the Brits?

I have a tea maker in my hotel room. No problem for me though. I went to the store and bought instant coffee to use with my tea maker. :)

Everything about bathrooms in London is different! First, rather than referring to the bathroom, restroom, ladies room, etc. as we do in the States, the English refer to it as the toilet (nothing like being blunt). The other day, I tried to hail a cab and the driver told me he had "just stopped to take a piss in a toilet round the corner".... I thought the British were supposed to be very proper. So far, I am finding the Brits make me blush regularly. Additionally, toilets have these odd buttons for flushing. There are two buttons each making up part of a full circle. One of the buttons is large and the other small... here is a picture of the toilet flushing button because I know my description is weak -

Basically, the idea is that the small button is a half flush and the large button is a full flush. Since I am a proper American I will let you figure out why a half vs. a whole flush. One last note about toilets here in England. They "fill up" with very little water. It is strange to me. I suppose it is all about conservation but I miss American restrooms.

Elevators or shall I say lifts are different too. If you are like me, you may have never noticed this before in the USA. In the US the ground floor of a building is the first floor, right? In London, the ground floor of any building is floor 0 and if you go down one floor below floor 0 the floor you are going to is -1 (negative one) - if you go up one floor above floor 0 you are on the 1st floor (American 2nd floor). This completely blew my mind!

The word brilliant is used a lot. Apparently, it means great or excellent.

Computer keyboards are different. The special characters (above the numbers on the top row of the keyboard) display differently. Since my computer's settings are for American people I can still type normally but it looks odd to me.  For example, rather than the # above the number 3 there is a  British pound sign (money) and rather than number 2 having an @ symbol it is the double quotation ("). Different.

I was very surprised to find how commonly people in London use military time. Public clocks are military time and even many people's cell phones display in military time. I have to stop and subtract 12 every time I am curious about the current time :).

I will keep watching for more interesting observations to share but that's all for today. 


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