Despite being born in South West London and attending school there, my family and I moved to New Jersey when I was 15. I initially found living in America incredibly difficult, and desperately missed London, which felt far more like home. Now being back in London, I have gained a new-found appreciation for some aspects of my life in America. Here are three things I miss about America, and three things I love about London.
Things I miss about America:
The weather in New Jersey is similar to London, however the seasons are more distinct, with hot summers and freezing cold winters (at least to me). As someone who loves warm, sunny weather, temperatures were regularly above 30 degrees during the summer, meaning trips to the beach and ice creams were frequent. During the winter, temperatures regularly go below 0, and it tends to snow multiple times each winter. I get cold really easily and start complaining the moment temperatures start dropping, however I always love it when it snows. Back in January, New Jersey got over 20cm of snow and I was so jealous seeing all the photos. It is often rather sunny despite the cold, something which my parents love to tease me about, remembering the grey weather of London.
Talking to strangers
Growing up in London, I remember heading to the countryside one weekend and being so confused when strangers started making conversation with me. Living in a small town in New Jersey, I noticed that people do similar things. Walking down the high street, passers-by will tend to say hi and ask how you’re doing. A few people have commented that they find the whole idea rather superficial and that strangers don’t truly care, but I’ve come to enjoy it. Sometimes if you’re having a rough day, it’s lovely when you get a smile from a stranger.
People being nice to me because of my accent
I remember placing an order at a shop and the staff behind the counter immediately whispering that I was British and telling me they loved my accent. School was the exact same way, and I got to know so many people from them just asking me about my accent and where I was from. My brother attended a smaller school than mine and quickly developed a reputation for being the British student. Despite receiving a few stupid questions (‘do you speak English in England?’ was a question someone asked me. .. ), I always enjoyed my conversations with friends comparing England and America.
Things I love about London:
No longer having to use American terminology
When moving to America, I tried to use all the American terminology (band aids, line, sidewalk) and I mostly did, however I could never get my head around Fahrenheit. I think there’s a conversion but I kept forgetting it, which made it useless. How can you even make small talk about the weather when you don’t understand Fahrenheit? I also felt a really intense surge of anger every time I spelt colour without a u. Old habits die hard, and I’ve now found myself trying to convert to Fahrenheit when talking to friends in England.
When people would ask what I disliked most about living in America, the lack of public transport was always the first thing on my mind. The small town we live in has only one bus and one station, coming once every hour. The bus only goes to New York, meaning you can’t use it to go to the nearest mall or to a restaurant. Plus, my nearest bus stop is a 20-minute walk. Although air conditioned and spacious, the train system is rife with delays, and the lack of connections means it takes forever to get somewhere that’s just a 20-minute drive. For someone that was used to trains arriving quickly and buses taking you wherever you want to go, having to rely on my parents to get anywhere was frustrating. This lack of public transport means you’re forced to drive everywhere, and as someone who hates driving, it’s not the best.
Although America has so many food highlights (fried oreos, funnel cakes, crisps in every flavour possible), I’ve definitely missed so many British foods: fish and chips, hot cross buns, the list goes on. I have developed a new-found appreciation for supermarkets (I mean, where else can you go in lockdown?) and have loved enjoying all my childhood favourites and trying new additions. One thing I’ve definitely missed are meal deals and I’ve quickly developed a favourite. London has so many amazing restaurants as well, which I can’t wait to try once lockdown is over.
Despite hating America when I first moved, there’s definitely a few things I love and miss now I’m away. I can’t wait to explore more of both countries.