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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone

While having dinner recently with my Indonesian spouse and an Algerian/Dutch couple who also live here, talk turned to what they (three expats) found 'weird' or surprising about the UK - as a UK citizen, I was surprised by some of the points they made:

- road markings are really important here and must be heeded
- shops close far too early
- for a free service, Freeview is amazing
- almost all ATMs are free to use, regardless of who you bank with
- British people really do not appreciate what they have in the NHS

Any expats here have observations of their own to add?

teuchter
 

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I was surprised to learn that calling banks or customer service costs the caller.
 

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Those coming from US find customer service well behind the times. In UK we have never had the same degree of service-oriented attitude that you have in US, and while staff are usually polite, they don't normally go out of their way to help you, and they regard you as their equal, expecting as much courtesy from you as they are giving you. So use 'thank you' and 'please' frequently, and you are more likely to get better service. The same goes for restaurant service. While you normally get reasonable service from servers, for many it's just a job. Many London restaurants levy 'optional' 12.5% service charge instead of tips, and people just pay it instead of rewarding servers individually. In many cheaper, family restaurants, service charge is rare and tips are optional, and many customers don't leave any.
 

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^
I absolutely agree with you on customer service. Scottish stores have chairs for them to sit in. CHAIRS. Also they got rid of bags, so now if you want to bag your things, generally the people do it because they have to bring their own or buy them. Thats so uncommon here as well. People just let the cashier do everything. I hated working retail, but...actually I might like it in the UK!

Also I don't think its "weird" per se, but I find it adorable to see things like signs that say
"twenty's plenty" haha.
In America its just a number sign.

I also love just how much people use public services like trains and buses.
Thats so uncommon where I live. So so uncommon! It's so easier to get around in the UK.
Shops don't stay open long, but at least you can get takeaway almost no matter where you are. (Well, despite being in the highlands, those close at like 5pm ugh).

My finace appreciates the NHS a lot, especially after he accompanied me to the ER when he visited. I was there for an hour for something and charged $1000 for a bag of saline.
It's pretty ridiculous! That surcharge I'm going to pay when I get my FLR visa? TOTALLY WORTH. It'll be so much easier with Scotland's free prescriptions and just paying a single payment for healthcare than 1k for one appointment.

Also food is pretty nice, since they use less dyes, extra ingredients and whatnot
My life will be so much easier to live in the UK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Those coming from US find customer service well behind the times. In UK we have never had the same degree of service-oriented attitude that you have in US, and while staff are usually polite, they don't normally go out of their way to help you, and they regard you as their equal, expecting as much courtesy from you as they are giving you. So use 'thank you' and 'please' frequently, and you are more likely to get better service. The same goes for restaurant service. While you normally get reasonable service from servers, for many it's just a job. Many London restaurants levy 'optional' 12.5% service charge instead of tips, and people just pay it instead of rewarding servers individually. In many cheaper, family restaurants, service charge is rare and tips are optional, and many customers don't leave any.
Personally, I find the American style of restaurant service *way* too intrusive and overly familiar, and hence when dining in the States I offer my 'server' a handsome tip if he/she promises to steer clear of my table until/unless summoned by one of my party.

teuchter
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My finace appreciates the NHS a lot, especially after he accompanied me to the ER when he visited. I was there for an hour for something and charged $1000 for a bag of saline.
It's pretty ridiculous! That surcharge I'm going to pay when I get my FLR visa? TOTALLY WORTH. It'll be so much easier with Scotland's free prescriptions and just paying a single payment for healthcare than 1k for one appointment.
+1

This was amply illustrated to me recently, when a relative in the US was quoted in excess of $10,000 for a hip replacement - whereas I had the same operation on the NHS two years ago.

teuchter
 

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I think that the IHS charge is actually fairly reasonable, even coming from socialised health care that is Canada. If I were living back in British Columbia, I'd be paying £440/yr in premiums (CAD 72$/mo = £36.57) plus 100% of my prescription costs ($10 dispensing fee per item + the cost of the medicine) and dental costs out of pocket. If I was fortunate enough to have a good extended medical plan from my employer (which I did in the job I had just before I came over), those costs would come down somewhat (I'd have to pay up to 20% of prescription charges and a varying amount for dental)... there is a minimum yearly spend required by the extended health insurance in order for those co-pay charges to be $0... I was fortunate enough to hit the minimum spend one year, just prior to needing a CPAP machine (>$2k in cost), so as painful as it was to have to pony up, does have its perks.

An ex-boyfriend of mine spent 3 weeks in a US hospital a couple of years ago because of a gangrene diabetic toe that had to be amputated. His bill was over USD $100,000 for his treatment. He is fortunate to have good health insurance, so his co-pay was about 1% of the final bill.



In regards to the cashiers at the grocery store sitting down while they process your order... each and every time I see them, I think to myself "Boy, they'd never survive in a North American grocery store!" because the cashiers at the stores in Canada and the US all have to stand for the duration of their shift. They do have a comfort mat to stand on, but unless they're on their break, they're standing at the til.
 
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In regards to the cashiers at the grocery store sitting down while they process your order... each and every time I see them, I think to myself "Boy, they'd never survive in a North American grocery store!" because the cashiers at the stores in Canada and the US all have to stand for the duration of their shift. They do have a comfort mat to stand on, but unless they're on their break, they're standing at the til.
I completely agree with this. It is the same in Australia - people working on the checkout are always standing. I spent the majority of my university years working at a fantastic independent book store in Sydney and I was on my feet all day. I didn't think much of it at the time, but now I have my first I suppose you would call "office job" and I can't stand being sat at a desk all day. I much prefered the jobs I had when I was on my feet for 8+ hours!

Can't think of anything "strange" about living in the UK, but I do wish that shops didn't close so early on a Sunday. I still forget that I'm not able to go to the supermarket after 4pm and someone has to remind me. Shops are open so much later in Australia (near where I lived anyway).
 

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+1

This was amply illustrated to me recently, when a relative in the US was quoted in excess of $10,000 for a hip replacement - whereas I had the same operation on the NHS two years ago.

teuchter
It's totally true what you're saying. Someday I'd like to see about what a doctor in the UK says about my jaw alignment because I think its so disadvantaged I've had trouble swallowing the past few years.
If qualified its a surgery that is covered on the NHS, but costs $22,400 in the USA.

An ex-boyfriend of mine spent 3 weeks in a US hospital a couple of years ago because of a gangrene diabetic toe that had to be amputated. His bill was over USD $100,000 for his treatment. He is fortunate to have good health insurance, so his co-pay was about 1% of the final bill.
Wow. :eek: I don't doubt that at all.

In regards to the cashiers at the grocery store sitting down while they process your order... each and every time I see them, I think to myself "Boy, they'd never survive in a North American grocery store!" because the cashiers at the stores in Canada and the US all have to stand for the duration of their shift. They do have a comfort mat to stand on, but unless they're on their break, they're standing at the til.
Been there, done that! Maybe I'll do it again when I move to my new town as they have a nice little shop there, but heck if I do it again in America. Its so hard for me to do bagging, pricing and just "chatting with customer" all at once. I can't focus!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
One from me this time (although I'm a UKC, not an expat) - British people seem to think it's okay/no big deal to park on a disabled 'blue badge' parking space, when they are able-bodied. (It's actually a prosecutable offence.) Really annoys me :mad:

We recently returned from a three-week/seven country European roadtrip, and we didn't once see a non-disabled person's car in a blue badge parking space - interestingly, in Luxembourg, blue badge parking spaces had a sign which (translated) read "If you take my space, then take my disability too!" :D

teuchter
 

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One from me this time (although I'm a UKC, not an expat) - British people seem to think it's okay/no big deal to park on a disabled 'blue badge' parking space, when they are able-bodied. (It's actually a prosecutable offence.) Really annoys me :mad:

We recently returned from a three-week/seven country European roadtrip, and we didn't once see a non-disabled person's car in a blue badge parking space - interestingly, in Luxembourg, blue badge parking spaces had a sign which (translated) read "If you take my space, then take my disability too!" :D

teuchter
This sort of thing happens all the time, and annoys me too, it is not just a Bristish thing, I have seen disability parking spaces in Europe taken up by able bodied people, I.e fit healthy young people jumping out of their 4x4s because the disabled spots are wider for them to park in.
When I lived in the UK, my mum had a blue badge, so occasionally I used it when I was accompanying and driving her anywhere. She got hers because she was partially sighted, totally blind in one eye, and limited vision in the other, she also had severe heart problems so couldn't walk far. It was far easier for me when helping her, and for her, she kept her limited mobility by only having short distances to walk.
Later in my now Late mums life, she got inoperable cancer, and we brought her to Spain as much as possible, we had a wheelchair to take her around, but she had not renewed her blue badge, so we had to struggle, getting her wheelchair out of the car, and getting her out of the car seat, in the limited space of an ordinary parking space, I saw empty disabled spaces, but didn't dare use them, as she had not renewed her blue badge, yet I still did see not disabled using these spaces! :rolleyes:
 

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In America you have a mark on the back of your license plate that shows you have a disability, its a blue man in a wheel chair. I'm not sure if thats there in the UK, I just know you guys have something you put in the window I think?

Anyway, because its on the plate, and usually they have a hanging symbol in the car, it makes it really hard for people steal spots and they really crack down on it, at least in my state.
 

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I find the use of inches/feet/miles/pints/pounds/stone bizarre as since about 1973 (47 years ago) they stopped teaching the imperial measurements in schools so anyone under about 60 has never been taught in feet/inches/stones/pints/miles.

In the end it just confuses people as they say "my car does 45 miles a gallon" but buy their fuel in liters. Kids get confused as at school their weight is in kilogrammes and at home their weight is in stones and pounds so making a lot of them switch off from basic weight and measure maths.
 

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In America you have a mark on the back of your license plate that shows you have a disability, its a blue man in a wheel chair. I'm not sure if thats there in the UK, I just know you guys have something you put in the window I think?

Anyway, because its on the plate, and usually they have a hanging symbol in the car, it makes it really hard for people steal spots and they really crack down on it, at least in my state.

It's a "blue badge" which is a bit of cardboard in a plastic wallet so the holder can use any car but has to leave it displayed in the car window when parked.
 

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I think the thing to put in the window is a bad idea because it could be shared with others.
I've actually heard of that done once. I think the plate thing is the most verifiable thing because you cant just take that off and share it around haha!
 

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I think the thing to put in the window is a bad idea because it could be shared with others.
I've actually heard of that done once. I think the plate thing is the most verifiable thing because you cant just take that off and share it around haha!
Thing is! That the card version of blue badge UK has, can be used by other drivers, as long as their passenger is disabled. My mum never had a driving licence or car, because she was registered blind, so whether it was me, my brother, or a kindly neighbour taking her out, the card (when it was valid) could be placed on anybody's dash board, as long as we were helping disabled mum.
The card is only registered for the person it is applicable to, in this case my mum,so couldn't be used for any body else.
 

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I find that one odd too.

And my husband saying things like, "oh, that's too far away".................and it's TEN miles! Then we drive it (after he notes the pout) and he's right, it takes 30+ minutes to get there. In CA ten miles is running to the store for one missing ingredient, not having to plan a week's shopping.

And when he tells me the shops will be closed (evening/weekend/holiday), I struggle believing that's possible.

And we've been looking for a new rental for over a year now......................real estate offices are closed on Sundays! How do these people expect to make money when they are closed when people are out looking? And there is no such thing as multiple listings (yes, I know about Zoopla, RightMove, etc.), each office maintains their own listings, even if it is the same company.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It's a "blue badge" which is a bit of cardboard in a plastic wallet so the holder can use any car but has to leave it displayed in the car window when parked.
Nowadays they're actually made of a much more durable plastic material (similar to UK driving licences, only thicker), and with security hologram and photo of the holder.

teuchter
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I find the use of inches/feet/miles/pints/pounds/stone bizarre as since about 1973 (47 years ago) they stopped teaching the imperial measurements in schools so anyone under about 60 has never been taught in feet/inches/stones/pints/miles.

In the end it just confuses people as they say "my car does 45 miles a gallon" but buy their fuel in liters. Kids get confused as at school their weight is in kilogrammes and at home their weight is in stones and pounds so making a lot of them switch off from basic weight and measure maths.
Fortunately, imperial measures are used for very few things nowadays (eg the UK gained an EU exemption for milk, cider and beer to continue to be sold in pints and for road signs to continue to display miles); otherwise, all goods are sold in litres/metres/kilogrammes by law and most aspects of life are metric...I would opine that the use of mpg/stones are more by way of ingrained habit than anything else.

On a related note - the UK Met Office has been exclusively using degrees Centigrade for temperature since 1970, yet whenever there is a 'heatwave' (as has been the case these past few days in SE England), the media magically start quoting the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit...presumably because 100F 'sounds' hotter than 38C? (Ironically in winter, they stick with C, presumably because -10C 'sounds' colder than 14F?!)

teuchter
 
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