Guide For Americans Visiting The UK

Blogmella’s Survival Guide For Americans Visiting The UK.

1) Start every complaint with the words “I’m really sorry”. This isn’t America, no one gives a SH*T if you are happy with the service or not. Our employees don’t have group hugs, pep talks, brainwashing sessions or sticker-charts to encourage them to be nice to the customers. On the plus side, very few of them expect much in the way of tips. If something goes wrong, like your dinner is cold or your toilet doesn’t flush… You need to say something like, “I’m really sorry but I think my dinner might be a bit too cold to eat”, or “I’m really sorry, I might not be pushing the handle properly, because I’m American and we have different toilets there, but the toilet in my room doesn’t seem to flush”. That way you might get some help. Trying to be “assertive”, shouting about your “rights” or demanding “service” will get you sneered at and your food spat in. BTW, this doesn’t just apply to Americans, this applies to EVERYONE, even Brits. This isn’t prejudice, it’s the way we DO things.

2) Look very carefully before you cross the road on foot. Drivers here do not slow down a bit and wave at you to cross (like they did for me in Seattle and Florida)…They speed up and sometimes even SWERVE here, in order to hit you. No driver in London will cut you ANY slack at all. Even if you have a walking-stick. Also, you’ll be confused because we drive on the CORRECT side of the road.

3) To be polite to OUR standards, try to say “Thank you” at least six times during any purchase.
The shop-keeper says “Can I help you?”
You hand him the item you wish to purchase and say “Thank you”.
He asks if you are paying cash, “Oh, yes, thank you”.
He hands you your change and you say “Thank you”.
He asks if you want the item in a bag, you say “Yes, thank you”.
He hands you the bagged item and you say “Thank you”.
You start to leave and he says “Bye!” ………To which you reply, “Bye! Thank you!”.

4) When you order, or ask for anything, say “Please” I was stunned in America that people ask for things and don’t say “Please” every time. It will help you to glean what little service you CAN get in London if you at least TRY to ask politely. I know some areas in America say “Please” more than others, because I’ve written about this before, but I’m telling the people who don’t, OK?

5) Don’t make a fuss. If a British person saw an elephant walking along the path towards them they would say “Oh look, an elephant…There must be a circus near here, or something.” Americans would go, “OH. MY. GOD. LOOK! LOOK! AN ELEPHANT!!! ISN’T HE ADORABLE?! GET MY CAMERA!! IS IT REAL?! AREN’T THEY FROM AFRICA?! DO THEY HAVE THOSE HERE?! MAYBE IT’S WILD…THEY HAVE HEDGEHOGS!!! etc. etc.” That’s really annoying to the British.

6) Don’t tell everybody you meet what you think of them within the first 10 minutes. British people don’t want to know how they are perceived, even if it is good news. Americans have a habit of saying “Oh my, you’re funny!”, or “You two make an ADORABLE couple!” or “Hey, you know what? You’re really clever!”, which makes us SQUIRM. Keep it to yourself, until you’ve known us for ages and until we are at least a bit DRUNK.

7) Practice drinking warm beer and eating small portions of food. You know it makes sense. And practice paying twice as much for it. I’d love to change the whole of the UK for you but it might be easier for you to lower your standards and then halve the result. That will be what you’re served.

8) Learn to say AND more often. “Go AND get”, “Go AND buy”, “Go AND eat”…I LOVE the American accent but leaving out all the ANDS is just annoying.

9) Turn the volume down. On your voice.

10) Feel the love. Brits are sarcastic, dry and often insult people, just to show them how much they like them. Before you get all offended, try grinning first and see if the British person laughs with you. They probably will. If not, feel free to create a scene, it’s not like you’ll get shot or anything (we don’t have guns).


31 responses to “Guide For Americans Visiting The UK

  1. Any advice for an American who will be driving in the UK? Since the rules weren’t modernized since the horse-cart to drive on the correct (right) side of the road is there some sort of license or insurance that we can purchase to drive as we’re accustomed?
    Also, where can I rent a firearm?

    • Haha! You can try driving against the traffic but there isn’t a bit of paper that says you’re allowed to. ;)

      As for guns, they’ve recently banned REPLICA firearms here – so you can’t even pretend to be packing heat (as you Yanks would say).

  2. hahahahahahahahaha…. love it. Am swedish but been living here for 10 years now and cringe everytime someone bumps into me and I say sorry… WHY, they should say it but noooo….

  3. HAHAHA! I think I would do very well in the UK except I have a bad habit of crossing the street when I please…the joy of living in a small town.

    It cracks me up when an American customer orders an ale and then bitches when it’s not ice cold. Ale should be room temperature to bring out all the flavour. Dumbasses. And of course we serve our ale cold.

    • This post was made primarily because of your stories about serving people and how you are expected to behave in the USA.

      I’m endlessly fascinated by the differences between cultures, especially cultures that are supposed to be very similar.

  4. This is useful information– there are clearly marked differences in decorum, aren’t there? For example, no doubt it would be considered proper in the UK to say “excuse me” after one farts, but here in the U.S. we prefer to say “look out” beforehand.

    You’re also correct about the fascination some Americans seem to have with guns, or, really, violence in general– a few years ago at a baseball game, all hell broke loose when they mistakenly scheduled ” Free Bat Night” and “Skinheads Get In Free” on the same evening…

  5. British people don’t “fart” as you so charmingly put it.

  6. Have you poms covertly re-started your convicts to Australia policy? Why are the English tourists coming down here so removed from the reserved, polite archetype?

    Some tips for those from the Motherland visiting our golden shores:

    *We know how hot it is here. Complaining doesn’t reduce the temperature.
    *We know that English-style pubs here are not as English as they are in England.
    *Congregating in clusters of similarly coloured sporting attire and belching out football chants when there is no game in sight is perplexing to us.
    *We do not understand your complicated verbal routines of verbal machismo as indications that you are “well hard”. Saying “dya wanna make something of it mate?” is generally understood as “Punch me”. Not “now you say something menacing back and we keep going until the beer runs out.”
    *Tourists complaining about other tourists is an irony even supposedly dimwitted aussies are capable of spotting, and you shouldn’t be surprised if we point it out.
    *Stop pretending to be Irish. The weakness we have for that charming brogue cannot be exploited by affecting an insulting Paddy imitation and mumbling something about “the troubles” into your Guiness. You will not get laid.

    • Hahahaha! I like it. However , I must reply to –

      “Why are the English tourists coming down here so removed from the reserved, polite archetype?”

      British tourists who visit Australia have chosen to holiday in a country where the entire “culture” is based upon getting beers out of the fridge and “throwing another shrimp on the barbie”. It hardly amazes me, therefore, that they’ve turned out to be the less polite and reserved members of British society.

      If Australians want to attract a better class of British visitor – I suggest they put their shirts on, learn to drink wine and stop eating with their hands.

    • @sillionshine –
      Surely British tourists visiting Oz are just making themselves at home.

      We’re not ‘tourists’ so much as ‘landlords’, after all…

  7. Haha, that is what a laugh to read.

    I have to say I am a big culprit of rule 3. Hey, its a british thing but sometimes I get the weirdest of looks for it – makes me feel kind of stupid.

  8. Loved your advice for Americans to the UK. And thank you for the post. I am sorry that you have had a tasting of invaders from our northern states. When you run into someone from the Southern States you will find their tone, music and manners are much better. Keep up your posts, they are great!!!

    • Thanks! Glad you stopped by and commented, it’s always nice to know people are reading. I fancy going to the South someday – I love the drawl.

    • Billy is right. Southerners have totally different manners than Northerners. As in, they actually have them…Southerners are trained from birth to say, “Please,” “Thank you,” “Yes, ma’am,” etc…

      Amusingly enough, Southerners call Northerners “Yankees.” If you called a Southerner a “Yank” they would probably be offended. My grandmother, from South Carolina, says she did not realize til adulthood that “damn Yankee” was two words. They are still pissed off about the Civil War thereabouts.

      In re: point #6, Americans would be more likely to say “you’re so smart” as opposed to “you’re so clever.” “Clever” is more of a bookish word in the States. “Smart” in the US of A invariably means ‘clever’ and not ‘sharply dressed.’

      • Yeah, I knew the whole “Yanks” thing was a bit cheeky but I used it for brevity and because in the UK an American is a “Yank” wherever (s)he comes from. ;)

        Point #6 …. Ooops! I stand corrected! Hahaha, my feeble attempt at being “American” didn’t get past you. :D

    • Ah yes, and likewise please distinguish the Midwest from the East and West Coasts. For a big city, Chicago is super friendly–strangers make eye contact and smile on the sidewalks, unlike NYC, LA…and, sorry to say it, I’m missing it in London, too :(

      No question, though, that the world (not just the States) would benefit from a dose of British etiquette. ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ go a long way…Kill ’em with kindness, I always say :)

      • I agree – Midwesterners are friendly and generous. We’ll say sorry if we bump into people.

        I think the crabby part comes because we’re used to super friendly service and get offended if we don’t get it. We feel that’s part of what we’re paying for and it’s owed us. (whether or not that’s right, I have no idea)

      • Thanks Colleen. I like your website BTW. :D

  9. LOL I’ll try to keep this in mind should I ever cross the pond. :)

  10. I think some of these tips should be used in every day American life in the first place. So many people lack common curtsey that I am surprised when I hear someone say, “Please” or, “Thank you!”

  11. Pingback: Guide for Americans in the UK from a Fellow Blogger « Canadians & Americans in the UK

  12. This was soo funny! Aftet being here in the UK for only 6 weeks now, I really relate. It is soo quiet whenever i shop at Sainsburys….when I ask for something ..everyone turns to look at me because of my canadian accent and now I realize prob the volume of my voice too! I’ve also startled bus drivers once I’ve hopped on the bus and asked for directions……I have also noitced the abundance of please and thankyous here…no biggie since I am a polite person and easily say these words too.

    • Thank you! (As we say here, LOL). I’m sure being Canadian makes you a tiny bit more British than an American (unless you’re one of the French ones…). ;)

  13. You forgot the tip about how the British are a rude, egocentric, arrogant people who will constantly look down their noses at your very existence, whether it be in the UK or in one of the many popular tourist destinations worldwide you’ve ruined with your obnoxious, binge drinking behavior.

  14. Anon. How many of us have you actually met? Have you formed your opinions from British soap operas? You’re sad

  15. To the author.

    You’re a moron.


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