Reverse Culture Shock

I have to admit that moving back to the UK after having lived in the USA for the last fifteen years is a bit of a reverse culture shock for me in many ways.   Fifteen years is long enough to get past most of the pangs of missing things from where you came and also to become well adjusted to where you moved to, however even after that length of time, there were still some words or customs I came across that were different in the USA that I wasn’t aware of before.

So having moved back to the UK and now having started back to work, albeit after almost three months of trying to find a job and spending much of my time at home, I am not back in the real world of living in England.

Working for a family owned company here is very different to working in Corporate America, where there are so many rules and regulations as to what you can and can’t do, and many of the traditions that might have been have long since gone.   Here for example, people in the department take it in turns to get tea/coffee for everyone, something that I haven’t seen in years.   The boss took us all down the pub for lunch on the first day, and it’s still acceptable to have a drink at lunchtime, whereas the mere mention of alcohol at work in the USA is a big “no no”.   Companies don’t necessarily have microwaves and water coolers here for the employees, in fact ours has neither, but there is a good supply of hot water to make a decent cup of tea as you would expect!

Driving to work is also very different to what it was in the USA, and for me it’s a step backwards.  No more driving 25 miles down the highway for me, or like in my last job 45 miles, which I could do in about 45 minutes.  Now it’s just over 8 miles to work, but it takes me between 40 minutes to an hour.   Only 1/4 mile of that is using a road that has 2 lanes each way, the rest is on just regular roads, and of course much of it is just one big traffic jam.

I guess this is just one of the downsides to living in the UK again, having to deal with the traffic, whereas in both Indiana and Florida where I was living in the USA, the traffic levels were much lighter.  Not only that, once I got out of the residential areas, the rest of the journey was on main highways with at least 2 lanes in each direction.  The traffic in the UK has always been terrible and it gets worse every year, but I am grateful at least that I am not working in London.  Most people working in London have to take public transport to get to work, and that just seems to get more unreliable every year too, so all in all I am pretty lucky to just have a 30 minute journey every day.

My next task, having moved house this weekend, is to sort out a food system for work.   In Florida I used to make myself oatmeal for breakfast in the office, and could bring in leftovers at any time to heat up in the microwave.  I also used to drink a lot of water, and kept bottles that I would fill up from the water cooler.  Now without either a water cooler or a microwave I am looking at alternative options, so will have to bring in my own water from home (since I object to paying an arm and a leg for bottled water), and will probably have cold cereal in the office, since there is a fridge that I can keep milk in.   We don’t have enough money for me to splash out on buying sandwiches etc more than once a week, and besides that, I prefer to know what I am eating, trying to eat healthy as much as I can.  Having lost more than 20lbs in weight over the last two years, I am determined to not put it all on again, as I feel so much better these days.

Well enough rambling for now… Please feel free to leave a comment…

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