I have to relocate to England for my new job. What are the pros and cons of this as a single American in her 30s?
Iu2019m going to focus my response ONLY on the Social Aspects of being an American in England, because this question specifically asks about the pros and cons of being a Single, American, woman in England - so it isnu2019t asking about salary, or health care, or food...I have been both a single American woman in England, and a married American woman in England. I am a dual national, born in America, and I have lived in England twice, each time for five years. That being said, I am very, very much a New Yorker in accent, and personality!The first thing you need to understand is that London is not all of England, and for the most part, even though I travelled extensively all over the UK, and I have lived in a few other areas of England, my answer is going to be focused mostly on London, because that was MOSTLY where I lived - that being said, socializing, as an American woman in London, is not that much different than socializing as an American woman in Liverpool, or Brighton - the defining trait is that you are an American woman, and they are not Americans. And, even though you can and will meet people in England who come from all over the planet, I am going to specifically focus on the social differences between the English and the Americans - of which there are MANY.Before I begin, I also want to acknowledge that I will be generalizing about both the Americans and the English, and I want to state this clearly: One nationality is NOT inherently u2018betteru2022 than the other! Just different.Because of your accent, English people will ask you if youu2019re Canadian. They wonu2019t ask you if youu2019re American. They donu2019t want to unintentionally insult a Canadian by assuming that they are American! This is because: Being a Canadian is considered, by the English, to be u2018not as badu2022 as being an American is! Ask a Canadian in England to confirm and/or explain it, in private. Theyu2019ll do it, because theyu2019re super nice. :-)Oh, and because this is a work transfer, without going into Englandu2019s complicated classism specifics, letu2019s just say that youu2019ll mostly be interacting with people who are u2018middle classu2019.OK, here we gou2026AWESOME!!!!!!!!OKu2022 So, you know how, in America, when we like something, we say it is u2018Awesomeu2019?English people donu2019t do that. They are more likely to say something much more understated like, u2018Quite niceu2022 or u2018Not badu2019, so when we say everything is u2018Awesomeu2019, we seem to be totally over the top to them. They are much more understated than Americans are!The English donu2019t u2018fist-pumpu2022 and u2018high-fiveu2022 for everything, the way many Americans do. Silently raising your hand to u2018high-fiveu2022 an English person means that you're an American who is being way too loud.And, English people very, very much dislike loud people, even though English people ARE loud! They think that they're not loud, but they absolutely are, especially when they're drunk, which is oftenu2022 but, we will get to that later... Basically, English people very much dislike when non-English people are loud, and if you are not English, you are often automatically assumed to be loud, even if you are being totally silent. In England, smiling too big and too much is considered as be being u2018Too Loudu2019. In England, smiling too big and too much, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE NOT ENGLISH, is considered as be being u2018WAY Too Loudu2019!The American propensity for extreme enthusiasm is often received by English people with a bit of horroru2022 It is actually considered sort of u2018Tackyu2022 there. It will often be received as childlike, or even idiotic.Now, this isnu2019t to say that English people do not get excited about thingsu2022 They dou2022 But, they express it very, very differently than Americans do. They are more reserved.The English basically express extreme enthusiasm, or any big feelings that they are having, by make themselves a cup of tea. Iu2019m not joking.When an English person wins billions in a lottery, they put on the kettle.When an English personu2019s family Labrador dies, they put on the kettle.When an English person is bored, they put on the kettle.If an English person asks you how your day was, u2018Awesomeu2022 and for that matter, also u2018Horribleu2019, will always be the wrong answers, regardless of what happened.2. FUCK YOU!!!!The English are also usually much more reserved with their anger. Iu2019m from NYC, and if someone makes me angry, I am often going to say, u2018Fuck youu2019, right to their face. The English, by and large, do not do things that way. An angry English colleague used to express her extreme frustration at work by signing off her emails with u2018regardsu2019, rather than with u2018warmest regardsu2019. An American wouldn't even notice something so tiny and vague, but you better believe that the English notice it! So, again, much more understated. An English person will also tell you to fuck off by not offering you a cup of tea. Very, very understated. When you hear them u2018tut tutu2022 about you, you're in serious trouble. But, you likely wonu2019t hear it, because it is most often done behind your back!3. BECAUSE YOU ARE A YANK.A lot of your personality and behavior, thoughts and opinions, and likes and dislikes, will be coined NOT as you, the individual, but as you u2018just being an Americanu2019. If you dislike a specific food, it is because you are an American. If you like a certain film, it is because you are an American. You will become an American first, and the person you are, secondly. This absolutely isnu2019t something that is relegated only to Americans in England, and the same thing often happens to English people in France, or German people in Italy, and so onu2022 but it is something that you will have to constantly contend with, and it can get annoying. And, the English have no problem u2018taking the pissu2022 out of you for your nationality of origin. Here is the thing: If you do it back to them, they often get very offended. Especially if you do it well, like I do. The English will also badly imitate your accent. Do not do it back to them. Trust me on this.4. AMERICANS HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR.The English have a sense of humor that is often experienced, by Americans, as u2018mean spiritedu2019. Now, coming from NYC, if I meet someone and within ten minutes they're saying things to me like, u2018You donu2019t order the right drinks, because you're a stupid Yanku2019, Iu2019m gonna get angry. Where I come from, if you donu2019t know me really well, youu2019d better not talk to me like that! In NYC, we do have a very biting sense of humor, but not with total strangers, ever! In England, they say mean things to people who they do not even know, and they call that u2018Just Banteru2022 - but, here is the thing: Sometimes, they are very much, intentionally, insulting you, but if you call them on it, they will say it is u2018just banteru2019.Sometimes, they are doing it because they have decided that they think that they might actually like you! It is hard for Americans to tell which is which. If you respond with anger, or if you hit them back with an even better, funnier zinger - specifically because you are not English - they do not like that! The English, who are often quite sarcastic, also donu2019t seem to understand that Americans can also be very sarcastic. Your sarcastic American comments will often be taken literally, and they will be horrified.5. HOW DARE YOU.It is actually extremely easy to make an English person feel deeply and importantly offended. Most of the time, when there is a miscommunication of any kind, their reaction is to feel deeply and importantly offended. They wonu2019t directly tell you that they feel this way! If an English person says, u2018Terrible weatheru2019, and you, the American, say to them, u2018Oh, itu2019s not so badu2019, they will quite possibly feel offended. The polite response, by English standards, is to agree with them. I once said said that I dislike rhubarb, and I thought I was going to be beheaded. They received that statement as me saying that America is better than England!Of course, if an English person says u2018terrible weatheru2022 and a foreigner AGREES, youu2019ve just insulted their countryu2019s weatheru2022 So, Iu2019d suggest a silent smile and a nod.A lot of English people feel that someone of another nationality disagreeing with them about anything, or disliking something that they culturally adore, is your way of u2018secretlyu2022 saying that their country is horrid - and this is simply because they are so indirect when they deliver their own serious insults, as a culture - they project that trait onto other cultures. If that same exchange occurred between two English people, there is much less of a chance that anyone will feel deeply and importantly offended by it - but they might. To be fair, this English weirdness extends to the French, Italians, Germans, and anyone else who is not English, and as I said, even sometimes to other English people - but it is extended MORE often to foreigners. Many people will say that this is based upon their ego, but I see it more as a general neurosis that runs through their culture. I like to think of the English as u2018extremely sensitiveu2022 and almost a bit paranoid, and somewhat socially awkward, rather than egomaniacal. As a culture, they have a lot less of the blatant bullishness and obliviousness than Americans have. They are more genteel and gentle, and a bit hyperaware. They simply have much more of an awareness as to what others may or may not be thinking of them, than Americans do!6. NOT THE DONE THING.In England, just like in every other country on earth, they have social rules. Their social rules are sometimes very different from another countryu2019s social rules, but that doesn't make them wrong! Just like in other countries, if you break the social rules, you will suffer negative social repercussions. I strongly suggest reading the book u2018Watching the Englishu2019, by Kate Fox. The English have a lot of social rules that Americans do not have. For example: u2018Yes, thank youu2022 is always the answer to u2018Would you like a cup of teau2019, and it is actually quite a big deal if you get that wrong, becauseu2022 Well, see number 5. In England, being outwardly u2018politeu2022 is a ruleu2022 In England, making casual chitchat with a total stranger is not always considered polite behavior, whereas in America, this is most often totally acceptable. In England, it is more often considered polite to leave people alone. So, what is and isnu2019t considered u2018politeu2022 in America is not the same as what is and isnu2019t considered u2018politeu2022 in England, and youu2019ll do well to learn their rules, and be polite enough to abide by them, while you are residing in their country!7. WHAT IS LEFT UNSAID, IS OFTEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT IS SAID.Basically, they wonu2019t tell you what their English rules are. And, it is not polite to directly ask them! Many people could not even articulate them if they tried, because they are just so ingrained in their culture. As I have already mentioned: When you mess up, it will simply be u2018regardsu2022 rather than u2018warmest regardsu2019, and as an American, you probably wonu2019t have any idea of what is actually going on. The English are much less direct than Americans are, and they like it that way. Your American Directness is not going to be received well. For example, if I donu2019t agree with a plan, as an American, and especially as a New Yorker, I would say, u2018No, that isnu2019t a good plan, becauseu2026u2022 and in England, you have just been quite rude! In England, if they do not agree with a plan, they are more likely to say something along the lines of, u2018Well, I suppose that would be one way to do itu2026u2022 and you will notice that what they have NOT said is u2018Nou2019. The u2018nou2022 was left UNSAID. I must admit, I will always struggle with this, because Iu2019m not a mind reader, and to my NYC-American ear, it is overly subtle. Iu2019m not psychic. Sometimes, I wanted to scream: u2018JUST SAY IT FOR FUCK SAKE!!!!u2022 You also cannot do THAT in Englandu2022 You must leave that Unsaid!In England, being indirect is synonymous with being tactful, and being direct is synonymous with being crass.8. MEET AT THE PUB.If you drink alcohol, your social life with be a lot more fun in England than if you donu2019t, because most people meet at the pub, and they tend to drink a lot. At all of my jobs in England, which were all in different fields, people regularly drank on their lunch breaks, and went to the pub together after work - and, not just on Friday - it was pretty much an every day thing. We donu2019t do that as much in America. At many of my jobs in England, we even casually had beers in the office, for meetings. We donu2019t do that so much, if at all, in America. It is a heavy drinking culture, in England. People in London drink much, much more than people in NYC, and I didn't think that was even humanly possible! When you are asked out for a date, it will likely always include alcohol, and it will often be a meetup in a pub. People can get literally u2018falling down drunku2022 in England, and they often do, and it is not at all considered socially unacceptable. All over England, outside of pubs and clubs, every weekend, you will hear extremely drunk English people screaming (very loudly!), and you will even see them vomiting in the streets, and as long as they donu2019t drive, it is generally and seemingly, for the most part, not considered a problem! And, although it is mostly drunk young English people, it is far from only the young English people who do it! Drinking alcohol is the English national pastime. Sure, maybe a date will ask you to the movies, but even that could involve alcohol, because in England, they even sell beer at the movie theaters! In England, socializing = alcohol.9. YES, ALL AMERICANS.In England - and in plenty of other countries for that matter - you will constantly be told who, what and how, All Americans Are. Even by people who have never been to America, or have only been to Disney in California, once, at age nine! Everyone outside of America is an expert on all of America. It can be at best annoying and tiring, and at worst, downright offensive. The English (the world?) have a love / hate relationship to America. So do I, so I cannot say that I blame them very much! But, it can get on my nerves. Also, the English are obsessed with class, and class is very different there, than it is in America, and as an American, you will automatically be considered u2018lower classu2022 than they are - the degree by which you are u2018lower classu2022 will vary, but you will always still be fundamentally of a lower class than they are, just by virtue of being from America! People often speak in absolutes, and English people often make a lot of generalizations about America and Americans - JUST LIKE I AM DOING IN THIS RESPONSE, ABOUT ENGLAND, AND THE ENGLISH - so you just have to know that this is going to happen, and deal with it the best you can.Just remember this: It also happens in reverse. My English husband is constantly asked by Americans what his favorite football team is, because Americans think that all English people love football. In England, they often say things that are massive generalization about Americans relating to things like guns, and racism, and about our global ignorance, rather than something as innocuous as sports, so it can be more upsetting. You can get angry, or you can try to have an intelligent conversation with them about it - which might end up with you being even more angry - or you can just let it go. See number 5 (How Dare You).10. FREE TO BE YOU AND ME, BECAUSE WE ARE TOLERANT.Tolerance of otheru2019s ways is not the same as Embracing the ways of others, and u2018Free to be you and meu2022 actually means: u2018Not The Done Thingu2019. Please see numbers 1u20139, and especially 5, 6 & 7, for more of an explanation of what this REALLY means, socially, in England, and what you should or should not do and/or say, about it, becauseu2022 The moment an English person says to anyone, but especially to an American, u2018Free to be you and meu2019, the truth is, you should just shut the bloody hell up! Just stop talking. They disagree with you, and you have offended them, so they no longer what to discuss it.u2018Free to be you and meu2022 is actually English for u2018Fuck youu2019. It sounds so much nicer! Personally, I really, really like it. But, it isnu2019t them being nice.Lastlyu2022 I want you to know that I absolutely love England, and I totally love the English, for many, many reasons, and even for the many things that I have listed IN this post!If you date men, you will find that Englishmen are quite different from American menu2022 By leaps and bounds, and for so many reasons, I much prefer English men, to American men. Which is a good thing for me, because I am happily married to the best Englishman on this planet! He is quirky, and super different from me, and he is very, very English, and I love that, and more, about him!It can be hard to become close to English people, as they tend to be a very slow burn compared to Americans, but I can promise you thisu2022 The English, once you're are in with them, are incredibly LOYAL and conscientious people.Take your time with them, drink the tea, and the alcohol, get to know them, try to be more aware of the potential feelings of others, let the initial cultural misunderstandings slide, try not to take everything personally, let them get to know you, as you, over time, and eventually, everything will be lovely jubbly!Oh, I almost forgotu2022 You might want to keep in mind that one of the most common stereotype of American women, pretty much across the globe, is that American women are all SLUTS!With that in mind, you needn't worry about your dating calendar EVER being empty!Your u2018Single American Womanu2022 dance card will ALWAYS be full.(Before you kick off at me, my lovely English reader, please be reminded that I did say that I was generalizing about the English, and that I love England, and the English, so you have no need to be deeply and importantly offended by anything that I have written! But if you want to be angry anyway, because itu2019s u2018the done thingu2019, all I have to say to you is: u201cAww, bless! Free to be you and me! Regards, Larau201d)