London: What I Miss and What I Don’t (Part 1)

I’ve been stateside for slightly over a month now, so it seems appropriate to carry on the tradition we started when we left Uganda about what we will and won’t miss about our dearest London.

Loyal readers of this blog will know that David and I thoroughly enjoyed our 15 months in Britannia, so the things we miss far outweigh the things we don’t. Also most of the things we miss are a bit more personal and straight-forward – our friends, our church, our colleagues, etc. Thus, I’ve tried to choose some of the less obvious things that we do and don’t miss.

What I Don’t Miss:

1. Always Saying Sorry – Brits say ‘sorry’ about everything. My basic advice to all foreigners in London, is just say ‘sorry’ a lot and you’ll probably be saying the right thing. A few examples. When we visited the high courts of justice, the honorable judge opened the hearing by saying, ‘Sorry.’ Once at a picnic, a group of us were standing around chatting, and a group of nearby strangers accidentally kicked a ball that rolled into our friend. Can you guess who said ‘sorry’? Our friend! Although I don’t miss this continual deference to others, this is a habit that I’ve definitely picked up and am struggling to shake. I find myself apologizing to people who hold doors for me or step out of my way in the restroom. So for now, um, sorry everyone – I’ll try not to say ‘sorry’ so often!

Keeping it tight

Keeping it tight

2.Apartment Amenities –  Let me break this one down. a) Dishwashers and Clothes Dryers. Gone are the days of stringing our laundry all around our tiny flat, or piling dishes in a minuscule kitchen. b) Space. Although we loved our neighborhood in London, I’m very happy to be in an apartment where we can stretch out and host people comfortably. c) Outlets in Bathrooms. Now I can happily plug in my blow dryer and curling iron right next to the mirror instead of in the hallway – and electrocute myself if I dang well please.

Ambidextrous eating

Ambidextrous eating

3. Curt Customer Service  – I know that many Brits find American interaction with strangers far too familiar and often downright fake, but I enjoy American customer service interactions that treat me like an old friend. For instance the company who packed and moved our household would greet me with a casual “Oh hi, Faith!” on the phone and then proceed to talk to me about their kids or ask about my life. Somehow this all put me at ease. (Although they still haven’t delivered our belongings, so maybe the friendliness was all a cover-up for poor performance!)

4.Self-Conscious Eating – Brits can wield their silverware with an ease and precision unimaginable to the American mind. Although I’m slowly learning to eat with both a knife and fork, I found myself a bit self-conscious when dining with Brits. It’s still my goal to match the dexterous British dining, but for now I’m happy to practice amongst my fellow-fork-shoveling Yanks!

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