I really enjoyed reading my fellow Anglotopia writer Laurence Brown’s post about bizarre things Americans ask British expats. Conversely, over the course of my nearly four months living here in Great Britain, I’ve been able to learn a few generalities that British people make or say about Americans. Mostly, these make me chuckle, often because they’re far from true. I enjoy thinking about how and why these observations have become common here. (My hunch is that it is primarily from the influence of American television shows). And don’t worry Americans, I do my best to disprove those that are false.
-We eat Lucky Charms for breakfast.
This one caught me very much by surprise. Someone was telling me about a store nearby that carries a lot of American products (mostly food) that you can’t find in the typical grocery stores here. She mentioned I’d be able to get Lucky Charms, the sugary, Leprechaun-themed cereal. “Isn’t that what Americans eat for breakfast?” she asked. I gently explained that while some young children (and maybe a few college students) eat this cereal occasionally, it’s certainly not the common breakfast for most Americans.
-We all have huge yards and outdoor swimming pools.
There’s definitely a bit of truth to this one (I’m sure, on average, the yards in America are much larger than the gardens in Great Britain. And I’m also certain there are far more outdoor swimming pools in those big yards in the U.S.) One person told me they think we all have pools because every American family on the television show Super Nanny has one.
-It’s always warmer in America than in Great Britain.
In the summer, most of the U.S. is likely to be experiencing warmer days than you find here. (And don’t get me started on the complaints about the heat here. It’s actually a big pet peeve of mine.) But in the winter, much of the U.S. is colder than you find here. I experienced this last winter, when during my housing visit a couple of inches of snow threatened to shut everything down and life almost came to a standstill. For a little bit of snow that anyone living in the northern half of the U.S. wouldn’t even bother putting snow boots on for!
-We’ve been everywhere in the U.S. (especially NYC).
I enjoy talking to British people I meet about places they’ve been to in the U.S. They’re often excited to share those travel experiences with me. And I’m always thankful that I’m relatively well-traveled around the U.S. because they almost always assume I’ve been to those places also. This is particularly true about New York City. I know many, many Americans who have never been to New York, but so many British people I meet ask me what NYC is like before even asking if I’ve been there. (I’m glad I have, both because it’s an amazing city, but also so I can answer some of their questions about it!)
-We don’t have a good sense of humor.
There’s definitely a difference between British humor and American humor. But I find many British people and entertainers quite funny. Some of the television shows here leave me in stitches with their sarcasm and good humor. But I’ve been asked point blank if I find anything here funny or if I understand jokes. We might not be as funny as Ricky Gervais, but most Americans can have a good laugh, too!