Guest Posts

Life in UK by Katie Vyktoriah Reed

My dear ones, the today’s guest post comes from the lovely and bubbly Katie that blogs over at A Mother Thing.
I met Katie last year at the Tots 100 Christmas party. We connected quite fast and we talk and talk all night. She is one of the ladies I chat to all the time on Twitter too and i hope we will see each other soon.
Below i added a picture and her guest post about her Life in UK:

I first came to the UK on 27th December, 2001. And I swear, against all logic or reason, and despite the 8 hour airplane ride I had taken to get here, I still believed wholeheartedly that someone was playing a joke on me. I just could not believe that I was actually IN the UK. I would have sworn that I'd been drugged and all the strange people around me were putting on fake accents and pretending to be British. It just would not compute in my mind that I had actually come to this country, so full of history and myth, so well-known as the greatest empire on earth. How did I get so lucky?

That first year, I did so much. I spent New Year up in Edinburgh, Scotland celebrating Hogmanay. I went to London and saw A Day in the Death of Joe Egg starring my hero, Eddie Izzard and Victoria Hamilton. I visited Chesil Beach in Dorset, and I adopted a monkey from Monkey World. I saw Stonehenge and Hadrian's Wall and Oxford. I saw events at the Manchester Evening News Arena, the Birmingham NEC, and Wembley. I went to Chessington World of Adventures and Alton Towers. I was put on trial at the London Dungeon. I visited an 11th century church!

My own country is only a few hundred years old, and we like to joke about how we kicked those lousy Brits out. We make jokes about how England would be speaking German if it wasn't for us. We have a centuries-old feud, while at the same time accepting that we are two countries divided by a common language...

The truth is that coming to England was an amazing thing. I was married for a good long time to a British man, and I learned so much by being immersed in the culture of my adopted country. If I had come here with another American, I doubt I would have had such a great experience or learned so many new things.

But despite the largely exciting and wonderful experiences I've had, there are still some very obvious differences between my home country and my adopted one. In America, when we go to a shop, we're usually greeted at the door by someone with a big smile and an offer of help. There are always workers nearby to help you find something you need or reach something on a high shelf. When we get to the checkout, the cashier will chat with us, looking us in the eyes and making sure we've found everything we needed. And we NEVER have to bag our own groceries. In contrast, here in the UK, I find that shop staff are cold and indifferent. Most of the time, you are left on your own until you check out. And the cashier does everything in his power not to look at you. For the most part, they won't even give you the total or ask for payment, instead assuming that you will notice and offer up your card on your own. There's no one there to bag your groceries, and it is pretty infrequent that you will receive an offer of help. And if you DO (for instance, I occasionally was offered the cashier's help while I was pregnant), they get annoyed if you take them up on it.

In short, the customer service in the UK would be completely unacceptable in the US.

I've also been completely shocked at UK houses. My parents house, a 4-bedroom, 2 bath, 3 reception with detached 2 car garage and a HUGE plot of land cost them the equivalent of £35,000. So imagine my surprise when I found that our 2 bed, mid-terrace house with tiny rooms, no parking and no garden cost us £185,000! And when we bought our second place with 3 bedrooms, it was £230,000! The UK seems to be built upward instead of outward. Space is at a premium, so each home is smaller. I liken it to living in an ant farm. It is completely unfamiliar to me.

But aside from these small niggles, I am happy to be in the UK. Will I stay forever? I doubt it. One day, I fully intend on going back to the US. I'd like to give my kids more room to play and more space to live. I want them to appreciate the value of a smile. I want them to be able to walk down the street and say hello to the people they meet without those people running away. 

The English may be known for their stiff-upper-lip mentality, but they sure aren't known for their ability to relate to their fellow humans.

But this country has been my home for 10 years. I love my life and am the person I am because I moved here. I will never regret being an expatriate. And even if/when I move back to America, I will fondly remember my time in the UK and how wonderful it was to experience something completely different.

Like this Article? Subscribe to Our Feed!

11 Comments

  • Actually Mummy

    That is so interesting! I don’t thing we’re great at customer service either, but I am often involved in a conversation with friends from France, Germany and believe it or not, Australia, who wax lyrical about how lovely the british are – how kind, open, supportive and friendly to strangers! I don’t get it, but I think it is living in London. Londoners are just not representative of the british population at large. I am from up north, and it is true that I feel much more welcomed there than I do in London. Conversely I have always found the American hospitality a bit too in my face – probably because I’m british!
    I totally get the space issues though – I would love a big house in the fresh air that cost half what mine does here!

    • Katie Vyktoriah

      Americans as a whole are definitely “in your face.” But for me, it is preferable to the English mentality of “mind your own business and don’t make eye contact.” I wish there was a middle ground that both countries could agree on! It seems it’s all or nothing. Feast or famine! 😉

  • Katie Vyktoriah

    Thank you so much for featuring me. It is lovely to be part of an amazing expatriate network, and I’m so glad I got to meet you. I hope I don’t offend any English cashiers! 😉

  • Here come the girls

    Really interesting to see your perspective. I hate people to bag my shopping! I like to know which bag I’ve hidden the treats so I can hide them from the hubby befre I get home!

    I agree with the smiling – we definitely could do more of that! I remember at the tot100 party I had been sitting there awkwardly for a while and you came in and were the only one to smile at me! I didn’t get to talk to you until later but it was so much more friendly.

    • Katie Vyktoriah

      I also like to bag my own groceries, as I separate things by where they are put away (ie – freezer, fridge, cupboard, etc). But to not even have the option of help frustrates me at times.

      And that’s so nice that you remember me smiling at you. I felt quite awkward there, as well, but I’ve always thought a smile goes a long way to put people at ease, and it also helps the smiler feel better. 😀

  • Jenography.net

    It takes some getting used to, the house prices here. One big benefit of buying in the UK is that prices seem supported, whereas I know so many people whose houses lose value because there is always somewhere else to expand to.

    • Katie Vyktoriah

      I absolutely agree. Though, the benefit for us is that we are looking at buying a property in Florida to have as a holiday home. Since the fall of the economy, there are large homes that were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a few years ago now going for $75k. With the exchange rate, it means we can afford to buy now. The opposite (buying in the UK from the US) would never be possible in a million years! 🙂

    • Katie Vyktoriah

      THank you. x

      I definitely think there is a lot of benefit to living in the UK, not least of which is the proximity to mainland Europe! As a huge history buff, I can visit so many important landmarks much more easily than I could back in the US. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.