Things That Are Different Are Not the Same

And Sometimes different does not always mean wrong…

Some things in other countries are different.

We arrived in the USA on Wednesday evening at about 5:30pm and got back to mom’s about 11pm. All in all it took us 22 hours to get here.

Yesterday I hired a vehicle and drove it 180 miles north to pick up a van that has been loaned to us for the time we are here. Then I drove 180 miles back home. It has been a long couple of days. And I have noticed a few differences.

DISCLAIMER: Observations are not criticisms. Sometimes different things can both be okay. These are not blanket statements, just observations based on my experience.

1. Conservative Talk Radio. To me, as a foreigner, it sometimes feels like watching a fight on the high street outside of a pub. You know you should probably walk on, its nothing to do with you, but you just can’t turn away.

2. Drugs. It always surprises me how many drugs are advertised on the radio. Yesterday during my 6-7 hours of driving I’m sure I heard about a drug for everything, weight loss, hair regrowth, world peace etc.

3. Friends. Everyone is my best friend. I have been into several stores and on almost every occasion people are incredibly friendly. Almost surprisingly so. And I think I am used to it from previous trips because I respond in a much more friendly way than I would back in England. In England it would seem out of place, here it is normal. Except gas stations. In gas stations I am given the impression that I am privileged to visit their business and if I do not meet expectations then I will be turned away.

4. Driving. Being on the different side of the road I can handle quite easily. But other rules relating to school buses and junctions are harder to figure out. Is there a US version of the high way code? Does the speed limit mean anything? Is the rule on the interstate to drive as close to the guy in front as possible? Do braking distances work differently here?

5. Food. I like food. And here the availability is great. But the quantity and selection always gets me. So much to try, so little time. Where to start?

6. Language. I have a bit of a cold and it must be effecting my hearing because I am facing a bit of a language barrier. And it goes both ways. I ordered a meal yesterday and the guy taking the order asked for my name. I said “Martin”. He looked panicked. I spelt it out. I said it with an American accent. Somehow he still managed to spell it with an “o”. When the order was ready they didn’t say my name, just described the order.


I love visiting the USA. I really do. But for the first few days some differences really stand out. And sometimes different things can both be right.

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