Here and Home, OR an Ongoing Catalogue of Amusing Contrasts

Daily Life

Here = UK, home = general USA.

Here: flick switches down to turn lights on, up to turn them off.
Home: the opposite.

Here: insert your credit card in the reader, then wait for an absurd amount of time while the system goes online to approve the transaction.
Home: swipe card, instant purchase.

Here: wallet jangles because of a ridiculous number of £1 coins.
Home: dollar coins are a rarity — so much so that a lot of people actually collect them when they come across any.

Here: total silence while taking the Tube.
Home: total chaos on a subway train.

Here: half the Tube trains shut down on weekends.
Home: everyone goes out on weekends because things are open late and public transportation runs more frequently.

Here: work over for the day? no class to prepare for? TIME TO DRINK YOURSELF SILLY.
Home: work over? class over? GO HOME, EAT, AND SLEEP.

Home: see crowded store; either leave and come back later or push and shove like no one’s business.

Here: most stores (and even some restaurants/cafes) close at ridiculously early hours (sometimes at 5 or 6 pm, even on weekdays)…and some places actually stay closed all weekend.
Home: everything ever is open all the time. And there’s probably a 24-hour place open near your house, too.

– – – – –

University Life

Here = University College London, home = Princeton University.

Here: physically leave your building and find department office, where you must check a bulletin board to see if any new news has been pinned to the wall.
Home: notices go directly to your email inbox.

Here: email is generally checked several times a week.
Home: email is checked several times a day, if not every other hour.

Here: entire grade for the term depends on the average of two essay grades.
Home: entire grade for the semester is composed of at least 2, up to 3 or 4 essay grades, plus 1 or up to 2 exams, and participation, so you have plenty of time to save your ass.

Here: have a question for a university staff member, email him, and receive no answer until you go in person to ask about it several days later, if at all.
Home: have question, email it, get an answer that afternoon.

Here: tutor hates your paper, TUTOR DAMN WELL TELLS YOU THAT. (And sometimes, in the case of my friend VC, your tutor will call you “bizarrely ignorant.”)
Home: preceptor/professor hates your paper, AWKWARD TIPTOEING AROUND THE SUBJECT.

Here: ethernet in your dorm room, wireless in some academic buildings.
Home: wireless everywhere! Even on random lawns between buildings!

Here: if you have something to turn in to your professor, print it out and put it in their “pigeonhole” — a physical mailbox in the English department office about 10 mins away by foot.
Home: if you’re turning something in to a professor, email it as an attachment.

Here: a dorm building is usually double-gated — you need your key to get in AND get out. And you need your key no less than seven times per round trip: once to lock your room door, once to get into the lobby, once to get out of the gates, and when you get back, once to get into the gates, once to get into the lobby, once to enter the elevator hall, and one more time to get into your room.
Home: tap your ID card to get in anywhere. That’s it.

Here: can’t find book, hunt through the British Library, the national library of the UK.
Home: can’t find book, request book. Book is sent to a library basically five minutes from your building.

– – – – –

Food & drink

Here = UK, home = general USA.

Here: order “take away” to get your food on the go.
Home: get “take out.”

Here: pay an extra charge to eat in at a cafe.
Home: eat in, take out, it all costs the same.

Here: the equivalent of comfort food seems to be some form of meat with gravy and mashed potatoes, or “mash” (e.g., steak and ale or chicken and mushroom pies, bangers, etc.)
Home: …probably more or less the same, though we also go for macaroni and cheese, burgers, and fried chicken.

Here: a lot of emphasis is placed on individual Subway franchises as being halal.
Home: no1curr, though it’d be nice if Subway offered that option in the States.

Here: waiter stands awkwardly next to you, holding a credit card reader, to help you pay your bill.
Home: waiter whisks your credit card away to a pay station, then brings it back.

Here: sold-out food item at the local grocery store is tea cakes. Always tea cakes.
Home: sold-out food item at a grocery store — if any at all — is usually some kind of frozen food on a promo deal.

Here: lemonade is fizzy. It’s basically Sprite.
Home: lemonade is just lemon juice, water, and sugar.

Here: the “fast food” equivalent is the ready-to-eat cafe — a place like Eat or Pret-a-Manger or even the front section of Tesco, where you grab a wrap or sandwich and a drink and go.
Home: fast food. That is, burgers, fries, etc.

– – – – –

Fun & Entertainment

Here = UK, home = general USA.

Here: people carry their alcohol into the theatre to watch a classy-ass play.
Home: nothing allowed in theaters, unless it’s a movie theater, in which case you’re only allowed to have their overpriced sodas and popcorn.

Here: theatres often have an adjoining bar.
Home: you have to go somewhere else to get your drunk on.

Here: every night is drinking night!
Home: eh, Fridays, probably.

Here: hen parties
Home: bachelorette parties.

– – – – –


Here = UK, home = general USA.

Here: the go-to outerwear of choice at Princeton is often something casual and North Face.
Home: UCL kids run around in leather jackets paired with all kinds of decorative scarves.

Here: explicitly dirty humor perfectly acceptable on greeting cards in mainstream bookstores (e.g., guy standing on his head next to his bed has drawn eyes on his balls and hung a sign around the whole package saying “KISS MY NOSE”…his wife declares she’s not falling for that one)
Home: parents would die before letting Barnes and Noble sell that kind of stuff in public.

Here: “every little counts.”
Home: “every little bit counts.”

Here: wearing the Union Jack everywhere is considered obnoxious.
Home: wearing the American flag everywhere is considered patriotic and touching. (By everyone except me, that is.)

Here: most major museums offer free admission.
Home: everything ever charges you an arm and a leg to get in.

Here: never speak to your neighbors. Never speak to strangers. Just never speak if you can get away with it.
Home: be a chatterbox with everyone you meet. It makes you ~fun and friendly~

Here: Clarityn allergy relief.
Home: Claritin allergy relief.

– – – – –


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