It’s time for a perspective change. So far, these posts have focused solely on the experience of an American anglophile, and have included reflections of an American’s time in England. Today, I decided to mix it up. I interviewed a charming Brit named Matt, who had the opportunity to travel in America this summer. Matt is a second year economics student at the University of East Anglia. Here is what he had to say about his time in America, as well as his thoughts on the differences between British and American cultures:
So Matt, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Um, I’m the stereotypical Brit. I enjoy tea, fish and chips…and rain. I’m just joking about the rain; as a Brit you just get used to it.
Were you able to escape the rain in America?
Not the entire time. When I visited Baltimore we [my family and I] were going to go to an Orioles game, but it sadly got rained off.
Was this your first time in America?
No, I visited once before when I was like eight. I went to Florida, but I don’t remember much of it.
When did you visit, and how long did you stay for?
I visited in August, and I stayed for two weeks.
Where were some of the places you visited? And, what were some of the things you did while you were in America?
Well, on the first day, we landed at Newark Airport, picked up our car, and headed down to Edison, New Jersey, where we stayed the night. The next day, we drove to Baltimore, where we met my sister who was out there [in America] for the summer. We stayed there for two days, and then headed down to Washington D.C., where we saw a lot of the monuments, and went to the National Archives.
The following day, we visited Arlington National Cemetery, which was really cool. Then, we headed to Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania, where we stayed in a log cabin for several days. During our time in Pennsylvania, we went to Hershey Park, and we went to a local arts festival. I nearly tried a deep-fried Oreo there [at the arts festival], but I resisted temptation.
For my last four days in America, I headed to New Jersey to visit my girlfriend. We spent time exploring the local area, as well as heading into New York City.
Wow, you visited a lot of places! What were your favorite places that you visited, or things that you did?
I enjoyed visiting the Arlington National Cemetery. That was really moving, especially the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I thought it was very cool how an armed guard is always patrolling it.
In terms of things that were just outright fun, Hershey Park was a great time. Visiting New York City and New Jersey with my girlfriend was also definitely a highlight.
Did you notice any differences between New York City and London?
Oh yeah, definitely, especially in terms of layout. New York City is so much neater in its layout. As a guy with minor OCD, having things in blocks, as opposed to random streets all over the place, made me so happy.
Did you pick up on any major cultural differences during your visit?
Just the general American shock at me being British was amazing. It felt like five million [American] people said to me, “Oh my god, you’re from England?!”
The portion sizes were mad. Like, they were absolutely massive. It was so hard to get through a full meal!
And then the atmosphere at sports games was also pretty mad. I went to a Giants versus Jets game in New Jersey with my girlfriend, and we met my family there. Generally at British sports games, the crowds are rowdy, but they were nothing in comparison to how loud and competitive the teams got in America!
How would you define “being British?” What are some of the major qualities associated with Britishness?
Tea. Actually, tea done the right way: tea bag, then water, then milk, and it’s optional to remove the tea bag before you add the milk.
The weather as a conversational topic, specifically the rain. Like, there is an acceptability of discussing British weather with complete strangers.
Stupidly polite people. For example, queue jumping is a very rude thing to do. But, it is far ruder to call someone out on queue-jumping, than to actually queue jump. That’s just a fact.
Tea is definitely the most important thing though.
Did you miss anything about England while you were in America?
Yeah, I missed how much easier it is to travel in England. Like, there’s just a lot less driving involved, so it’s a lot easier to get places.
Do you miss anything from America now that you’re back home?
THE FOOD. The pizza there is SO much better than here. And, of course, my girlfriend.
Are you planning on visiting the US again anytime soon?
Yes, I’m actually looking to go back to New Jersey and New York for Christmas this year.
Matt is no longer planning on visiting the United States for the holidays. He does not know when he will return to America.