Some of you have probably seen my video called “Things an American Notices in the UK”, where I provided my insights on some of the differences between the UK and the US. I honestly meant for it to be a light-hearted and fun video that wasn’t focused on stereotypes, but more on unique things that I noticed as an American traveler. The video is trending in the UK, even though it was created primarily for my US audience. As a result, we’ve received a ton of comments, many of which were pointing out things that I got wrong in the video.
So in this video/post, I want to share some of the things that I personally learned from the experience.
First off is terminology when describing people. Several people mentioned that I shouldn’t use the term “Brits”. What’s confusing to me is that everyone I know that is British refers to themselves as a “Brit”.
Some mentioned that it was equivalent to calling Americans “Yanks”. However, I don’t know if it’s a fair comparison since we don’t call ourselves Yanks in our daily lives.
My recommendation for travelers is to use the term “British”. An even better option is to use the specific country that the person is from since people tend to identify more closely with their home country. So basically, English, Scottish, Welsh, or Northern Irish.
2. Geographic labels
This is an area where I really screwed up! I think I referred to visiting the UK, Great Britain, and England in the video, and people pointed out that they are different. In fact, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t have a good grasp of the differences until I read the comments and did additional research.
First off, the United Kingdom (UK) is a sovereign state or constitutional monarchy. It’s essentially a grouping of countries that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain, on the other hand, is the island which is made up of England, Scotland, and Wales. This does not include Northern Ireland.
I might just use the term “British Isles” from now on to be safe. Ok, maybe not, since that includes the whole of Ireland! But just be careful when using these terms. I honestly felt bad for being so loose with my geography and labels, so I sincerely apologize if I offended or annoyed anyone.
In the video, I mentioned that the plugs in the UK are extremely large when compared to the ones in the US. I think we received over 1,000 comments explaining that I was downplaying the safety features of the plug.
As a result, I want to set the record straight that even though the plugs are larger, they are very safe. For more information, check out a video by Tom Scott that details the safety features that were incorporated into the plug design.
4. Mince pies
In my previous video, I mentioned that it was confusing that mince pies, which are a traditional food item during Christmas, are made with mincemeat, even though they don’t actually have meat in them.
What I learned is that they used to have meat in them. The ingredients slowly shifted to fruit as it became cheaper and more accessible. There’s obviously a lot more history behind this, but you get the idea.
5. “Holiday season” vs “Christmas”
I had a lot of folks chime in I did not use the word “holiday” properly. While we generally refer to the “holiday season” as the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in the US, I believe holiday in the UK is used to describe what we would call a vacation.
It seems like in the UK, people simply refer to the time we call the “holiday season” as Christmas. In the US, the word “holiday” can mean any specific day off from work, but if you say “holiday season”, you’re generally referring to the month of December.
6. There is more to England than London
I really like the city of London. It’s an incredibly multicultural city that’s filled with so much history and life. Though a lot of British people reminded me that there is so much more to England, and the UK as a whole, than London.
I think a lot of Americans probably feel the same way about large cities like New York or Los Angeles. In fact, I had a chance to attend a wedding recently in the English countryside. It was about an hour west of London and was a fun experience exploring the area.
7. Military time (also known as 24-hour time/clock)
A lot of viewers asked me to clarify what I meant by “military time”. I realized that we’re used to referring to the format as military time, but outside of the US, it’s really known as 24-hour clock or time. It’s also used a lot more than we’re used to in the States.
I spent four years in the Air Force, so I feel comfortable reading 24-hour time. However, I know a lot of people find it cumbersome and difficult in the US since it’s so rarely used.
8. Driving on the left side of the road
While I was correct in pointing out that people drive on the left side of the road in the UK, I definitely misspoke when I said it was just a “handful of countries”. It turns out that a “handful” is more like 30% of the world, so I stand corrected.
Do you have any observations or thoughts? What are the biggest differences between the UK and the US that you’ve noticed when traveling? Please share in the comment section below. We love hearing from you!