19 Strange Things All Americans Will See If They Take A Trip Across The Pond

19 Strange Things All Americans Will See If They Take A Trip Across The Pond

Prepare to be properly gobsmacked.

Last year, I was lucky enough to study abroad at the University of Leicester in Leicester, England. I had the experience of a lifetime but it definitely took a bit of time to get used to the differences in their culture.

1. They ask everyone "are you alright?"

Whenever you have any sort of interaction with an English person, they will almost always start the conversation with "you alright?" For the first couple of weeks, I thought everyone was concerned for my wellbeing when in reality it is just their way of saying "how are you?" like we do in America.

2. Eating baked beans with literally every meal

Brits will put baked beans on anything that's edible it seems. They eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A traditional English breakfast isn't complete without baked beans!

3. They celebrate the 5th of November by having their children build a man and set him on fire

Every year, on the 5th of November, Brits celebrate the capture and death of Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes was working with a Catholic group of men to kill King James I. They had a plan to blow up Parliament with copious amounts of gunpowder when King James I would be visiting on opening day (November 5th, 1605). Their plan was foiled and Guy Fawkes was caught in the act. He was then tortured and executed. Now to celebrate the holiday British children will build an effigy of Guy Fawkes and have a bonfire to burn him. Fireworks are also optional!

4. Being obsessed with Donald Trump

Every single time someone heard my American accent the first thing they asked me was what I thought about Donald Trump. They seem to talk about him more than anyone in the United States does.

5. Not understanding the greatness of ranch dressing

The entire time I was in England I couldn't find ranch anywhere. Even at McDonald's!

6. Calling all desserts "pudding"

Pudding has so many different meanings in England. It can basically be used to describe any "sweet or savory" dish. So the possibilities are endless.

7. Only having pancakes a certain time of the year because they are "seasonal"

I was really craving pancakes one day so I went to a Tesco and they told me that they didn't have any pancake batter because it is only "seasonal." I have no idea when that season is but don't expect to eat pancakes any other time.

8. Saying "cheers!" can mean several different things

In England "cheers" can be used in a couple different circumstances. It can mean "thank you," "goodbye," or it can be used as a sign off in email or letters.

9. Having two faucets at one sink

I'm really not sure who thought this was a good idea. You can either pick from burning hot water on one side or on the other side freezing cold water.

10. Their love for fried chicken

If you ever go to England you will definitely run into multiple fried chicken restaurants. The Brits LOVE their fried chicken, especially KFC. Recently a bunch of KFC restaurants in the U.K. had to close early because they ran out of chicken!

11. Putting zig-zagged lines on roads

The first time I saw these zig-zagging lines on the road I was very confused. I had never seen anything like it. The zig-zag lines can be seen at crosswalks in the U.K. to warn drivers that there could be pedestrians on the road.

12. Their love for Robbie Williams

Ever heard of Robbie Williams before? Because if you're going to the U.K. you will be sure to. Robbie Williams is nearly as worshipped as the Queen over there. For some reason this guy is like God to them.

13. Give you a "Sprite" when you order lemonade

The typical lemonade we are used to drinking in the U.S. or selling at stands as kids is non-existent in England. If you order a lemonade they will give you something that tastes closer to sprite than lemonade. Lemonade is also usually clear in England which was shocking as well.

14. Having their washer and dryer in the kitchen

If you ever go into a British home and can't find the washer and dryer you will have to check the kitchen first.

15. Also somehow the washer and dryer are one machine?

I don't know about you but I've always been used to having a washing machine and a separate drying machine. Honestly, this is probably a good idea I'm not sure why we haven't adopted it in the U.S.

16. Never refrigerating eggs

This was another shocking sight for me. It felt very weird buying eggs that were just on the counter and not in a refrigerated area.

17. Their equivalent to Dollar Tree is called Pound World or Pound Land

Big fan of these for their low prices but there were a lot of sexual jokes surrounding these two.

18. Having an "on" and "off" switch on all electrical outlets

Not going to lie, I did forget to turn on the switch sometimes and thought my charger was broke forever when it wasn't working.

19. Paying extra for grocery or shopping bags

The bags only cost a couple cents, but I found myself balancing all of the groceries in my hands a couple times if I forgot to bring a reusable bag with me. This is a great idea to save plastic, but I was definitely confused at first.

Spending a semester in England was the best decision I have ever made. While it took some getting used to, I came to love the different experiences England had to offer and I cannot wait to go back and visit sometime!

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Clayton

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say, "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing.

My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from "Shameless."

"Shameless" is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out of place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum, it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone, however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by "Shameless."

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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Day 3 In Italy: Florence

When you're so used to your hometown, other people's hometown are far more beautiful


Our final morning in Venice, we boarded a ferry and rode to the other side of Venice where we got on a tour bus and drove for about four hours to Florence.

Your browser does not support the video tag. On the ferry from one side of Venice to the otherBrooke Burney

Upon entering Florence, one of the first things we saw were the Ponte Vecchio. Our hotel was also just adjacent to it so we got to walk across this bridge quite a few times.

Brooke Burney

Soon after we got to Florence, we put our luggage in the hotel and we were off to explore Florence. We went to a small town square and ate and met up at the church that was in that area. After this, we saw Pitti Palace, where there is a secret passageway lining the town where the chief could walk. The street that Pitti Palace is located used to be lined with butcher and leather shops, making the town smell unpleasant. The chief did not like this so he changed these butcher shops into jewelry shops where he was able to purchase whatever jewelry he pleased while it also did not smell up the streets.

Pitti PalaceBrooke Burney

After this, we walked to the Signoria Square where there were statues of some Greek gods and a replica of the statue of David.

Poseidon was under construction :(Brooke Burney

During this part of our tour it began raining, so we spent one or two hours trying to stay dry. Our tour guide had us huddle under a balcony but once that got crowded, we moved to a huge tourist shop where we stayed until it calmed down.

Brooke Burney

After this, we had time to shop and eat but once that leisure time was up, we were guided through the Signoria Square and were given the history of the buildings that stand there and we passed the church in which the Statue of David was originally supposed to reside.

The Statue of David was going to go in that nook on top of the dome, under the golden crossBrooke Burney

At this time it was about 7 PM and we were headed to a cooking school where our entire group prepared dinner for everyone. Some of us were making the appetizer, others making the main course, and rest were making desert. I made pasta, and we made it from scratch which was not as difficult as anticipated and turned out delicious.

Made from scratch pastaBrooke Burney

After dinner we went back to our hotel, however before entering, our tour guide asked if the group wanted gelato. Of course, everyone piped in, except for the four of us girls that went together. Our tour guide told us he would take us to a club if we wanted to and our supervisor was okay with it. So we went to our room, got ready and then we were off to the club that is right around the corner from our hotel. If you want to read about that experience here's the link!

Once we got back, we went to sleep around 3 AM, and we were ready for more exploration tomorrow; bright and early.

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