A Londoner (sort of) in New Jersey: 49-ish Peculiarities You Must Know Before You Cross the Pond

So, I saw in the press recently that an article written in Vogue has set the world (by the world, I mean England. And by England I mean Twitter and anyone that posts comments on the Mail Online) on fire.

A New Yorker, who had already pissed off lots of people when she wrote a previous blog about the rules of Instagram, has been slated for her article around what people from America should know about England before coming over for London Fashion Week.

I read it and being on the other side of the fence (or the pond), I found it bloody hilarious. And so, so true when you compare it to life stateside. If you haven’t read it, please do. Even if you don’t live in America, you have to literally have no sense of humour not to appreciate this.

You can find it here – cultural-quirks-to-know-before-visiting-london

Anyway, I felt it only right to reciprocate the favour. And my caveat before I start is that I bloody love living here, I love the people, I love the weirdness. This is in no way knocking anything about this country. It’s just quirks and peculiarities that have made me smile, or scratch my head, or downright WTF:

In New Jersey, you don’t fill your own petrol. You’re not actually allowed. I know that we used to do this once upon a time in the UK. But it still exists over here. Just in NJ.

Petrol. Is. Cheap. I thought it was expensive at first when I saw $2.30 up on the board. Until Mr M pointed out that that was per gallon – not per litre. For conversion sake (because I needed it – there are 3.7 litres to a gallon. Translation – petrol is very cheap)

There is a petrol station every 400m. I can’t quite imagine how I could drive past one and 30 seconds later slap my head because I had forgotten petrol. But if I did, I wouldn’t have to worry as 30 seconds later there will be another one. Versus the UK where you need to drive for 30 years before you find another one.

A duvet is called a comforter. It took us nearly 45 minutes of walking around Macy’s looking for a duvet before we realised this.

We measure things in cups over here. I thought this was a unit of measurement on a jug or scales like ml or gram. It is an actual cup. And you also get half-sized and 1/3-sized cups. So that you don’t have to work out when your cup is half full (or half empty – depending on who you are)

Direct debits, standing orders – they do not like these. Its all about the cash and cheques. Some restaurants only accept cash! I haven’t had cash in my purse since I was in Year 8 and did babysitting.

And a purse over here is actually a handbag. And a wallet is a purse.And now I’ve stared at the word purse too long and it just looks weird!

There is an unhealthy obsession with pumpkins. In particular, pumpkin spice. Come autumn (fall – sorry), everything is pumpkin spiced flavoured – pretzels, coffee, cakes, muffins, crisps, cocktails, pancakes…

Birthday cake flavour is a thing – you can buy birthday cake flavour candy bars, chewing gum, soda, yogurts, ice creams, biscuits, popcorn. As a cake lover, I find this fantastic.

You get odd looks when you say cheers as in thank you.

Wax’s are crazy expensive – like £20 more than you would pay in the UK.

And don’t even get me started on eyelash extensions – $150 is your standard starting rate. That’s £115!! And then you still have to go back every two weeks at $90 a time.

The playgrounds are out of this world. No sad set of swings and a rusty seesaw in this place – I see full grown adults charging around parks here. And they don’t even have kids. They are like theme parks. Miniature theme parks.

Zoos are crazy cheap to visit. Just before we moved over we took BC to Whipsnade Zoo and it cost us £50. And she was free. Bergen County Zoo is $8 – $4 if you’re a resident of Bergen County. That’s £3. That is less than half a box of Celebrations.

Every piece of chocolate I have tasted over here tastes like M&Ms. Except M&Ms – because they come in 1,000 flavours. Butterscotch white chocolate, mint chocolate, cinnamon, pumpkin spice (obvs), white chocolate peppermint, holiday mint, gingerbread, mint crisp, pumpkin spice latte (obvs), mocha, coffee nut, honey nut, orange chocolate, cherry, raspberry, cherry cordial, pineapple, coconut, candy apple….

No one walks anywhere – unless you live in NYC. That’s mostly because there are no actual pavements anywhere to walk on. If you do walk, people will pull over to see if you’re okay or if you’ve had car trouble.

Everyone drives so slowly. This is one of my most favourite things – I’m not knocking this at all. I rarely even have to brake anymore – even when someone pulls out on me. In the UK, I think I drove minimum 40mph everywhere. Here, you’re lucky if you can go over 30mph. In a school area, its 25mph – how great is that?

Every housing area/village you go to has their own fire and police department. And there are police EVERYWHERE you go – I’ve never felt so safe in my life. And that’s me living in a town that is 95% safer than any of the other towns in the whole of the US.

Sirens (police car, ambulance, fire engine) sound like air raid warnings. Do not be alarmed when you hear one.

The medical TV adverts follow a fantastic sales pitch for the latest weight loss/hair growth/menopause corrector/thrush fixer with dire warnings of the side effects that this may cause – cancer and/or death seem to be two of the most common.

Food intolerant? Fear not! Nearly everything comes in gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, fat-free, sugar-free etc

Everyone has perfect teeth. Thank goodness I had Invisalign or else I would literally have to pretend that I permanently wear Halloween teeth compared to these guys.

Halloween is a big deal. I mean, Christmas big. Since the beginning of September, I have seen Halloween shops popping up everywhere. Today (22 September) I drove past a house that had two 10ft inflatable Frankensteins, a 10ft ghost, a 10ft minion(?!) and cobwebs all over the lawn. It’s September.

People look at you blankly if you say the date before the month.

There is a strange obsession with cold brew – when I first heard of this, I thought it was something along the lines of Special Brew, Irn Bru – you get my drift. No, this is a sophisticated way to make iced coffee – apparently.

Meal portion sizes – don’t even get me started.

Every house resembles a launderette – I have a commercial-sized washing machine and clothes dryer in my utility room.

Nearly all houses have utility rooms.

You’re not allowed to dry your clothes outside. Hence the clothes dryer.

Every room has about 20 plug sockets. Including the bathrooms and toilets.

Supermarkets are very generous with their carrier bags. I usually get given around about one bag per item. I’m considering selling them to the UK in batches of 10 for 5p.

Everyone travels by bus. I mean, everyone. Unless it’s more convenient to travel by ferry. In which case they do that instead.

In Bergen County, NJ (where I live) you can’t buy clothing on a Sunday.

Or lumber.

This means that NOTHING is open on a Sunday. Except the buses. Into NYC. Which, thank god, is open.

Individual states have their own rules for driving – when taking a driving test you have to say which state you’re in so that they ask you the correct questions. This means that if you pass your driving test in one state, you have to take a knowledge test if you ever move states as the rules are likely to be different. This would be like driving in Cornwall and having to take a new theory test to drive in Dorset.

The same with your number plates. You have to get them changed every time you change the state you live.

Air conditioning isn’t even a luxury. It’s like water.

No one has said how much they love my accent. Not one person. Although I did discover the other day that most people think I’m Australian.

Everyone is obsessed with football and politics. And they display who they vote/cheer for with big flags outside their houses. And they expect you to have an opinion.

People really do have american flags on flag poles outside their houses, too.

Cars are huge, I drive an Audi Q3 – in the UK I told my other half in no way would I ever get a car as big as this. Over here, this is pocket sized. Not even joking. Other cars could actually have my car sat on their back seat and drive it places.

Pizza slices take up two plates

Everyone uses sat nav – hardly anyone knows where they’re going otherwise.

Hardly anyone has been outside of america; loads of people I have met haven’t even been outside of NJ and NYC. To be fair, I can see why now that I’m here.

American TV is terrible – sorry, but it really is. I really miss Sky and I NEVER thought I’d say that.

We’re more obsessed with the Kardashians than they are over here.

We were all equally as rocked by the demise of Brangelina – Team Aniston

We were all not surprised by the whole Huddleswift break up – Team Harris

This is just a bit of fun and I’m sure if you ask me to do the same thing in a year, or even six months, I will have a whole different list.

And that’s what I love most about being over here – I am learning something new four times a day. Every day is a novelty – and how great is it to be able to say that when you’re 30 something?

To quote BC:

Yay, I luff this sunshine place.


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