Even though the UK is an English-speaking country, there are still a lot of differences between the United Kingdom and the United States. Here are some of the most obvious ones:
- No stop signs: That is right. I have not seen a single red octagonal shape with big white letters stamped across it during the almost two months I have been here. There are a lot of roundabouts and interesting 4 way intersections that I can not even begin to describe. The most alarming aspect about not having stop signs at intersections is when I’m crossing the street at 8 in the morning walking to class and I see out of my peripheral vision this car zooming towards me. In the U.S., most cars will begin to slow down several hundred feet ahead of the stop sign in order to prevent a sudden stop. But, in the UK, I have these fear of uncertainty if they will actually stop in time or if they will stop at all since there is no big red sign reminding them. The most awkward thing is playing the who is going to go first game with the car. With no certainty that the car will stop and let the pedestrian cross or continue to turn, I often find myself putting one foot into the street then often retracting until there is a sure sign from the car.
- Interesting crosswalks: At large intersections, there is a median in the middle of the road for pedestrians. But unlike most medians in the US, there are fences along the median that creates an almost Z-shaped path for the pedestrians. When crossing, pedestrians are supposed to cross one lane and then wait at the median and then cross the other lane. Pedestrians are only give the green light to cross one lane at a time while the other lane is still allowing cars to turn into.
- Computer keyboards: Who knew that there were different types of English keyboards? When I walked into the university library to go print something, I needed to access my email account to retrieve the document. The first time I tried log in, it said I typed in the wrong username and/or password. I retyped the password again and still it said I was wrong. Finally, I looked at my username and I noticed that the @ sign was wrong. Finally, I realized that the @ symbol isn’t on the usual key on the number 2 key.
- Separate hot and cold water taps: Getting warm water in the UK is near impossible. The hot water and cold water comes out of two separate taps and there is no way to adjust the temperature of the water. At least in my building, the hot water is scathing hot. In order to get warm water, I have to keep alternating between the hot and cold water tap. One of my flatmates said that she has to plug up the drain in the sink and run both taps in order to get warm water to wash her face. Whenever I need to wash my hands, I have to either pick the freezing water or the scathing water. I have never been more grateful for one faucet with adjustable water temperature in the U.S.
Living in Scotland has definitely been interesting adjusting with the small changes. I find it fascinating the similarities and differences between the United States and the UK.