America gets a bit of a bad rep and, to be honest, I can understand why: gun violence, Donald Trump, those bizarre pharmaceutical ads – it’s a weird place. But living there for 5 months made me fall in love with it a little bit. Despite our many cultural and linguistic similarities, there are some things that the US just do better than us Brits!
Who doesn’t love a good compliment every now and again? I received way more of them when living in the US and I’m pretty sure I didn’t become any more attractive or interesting upon arrival. In fact, the effort I put into my daily appearance took somewhat of a nose dive. People there are much more willing to go out of their way to pay you a compliment. If they’re loving your outfit, they’ll always let you know! Even better, they don’t expect any further conversation! They just let you know that you’re looking good and then move on with the rest of their day.
When I first arrived, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of products in the supermarkets – we’re talking a whole aisle of cereal bars. It’s absolute madness but also quite exciting, especially if, like me, you love food. There’s always weird and wonderful new things to try and lots of products that are hard to find in the UK. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabars were a particular favourite of mine.
3. College Pride
Walking around campus there feels like you’ve stepped into a university prospectus. Almost everyone wore some form of college merchandise, be it caps, sweatshirts, backpacks or t-shirts. The college bookstore was a cornucopia of red, white and blue. The sheer amount of stuff they have on offer blows my mind. Back in London the uni shop stocked a few sweatshirts and maybe some cufflinks if they were feeling really jazzy. In Philly they had everything from dog bandanas to pillow cases, christmas decorations to ping pong balls. There are even Penn salad hands! It’s crazy but also kind of nice to see how much pride students take in their school.
4. Friendly People
Unlike the grumpy receptionists I often have the pleasure of encountering in the UK, almost everyone in the US is super friendly and happy to lend you a hand. Security guards tell you to have a nice day, professors are approachable and the lovely lady who served up my lunch always took the time to ask me how I was. It’s so refreshing to see so much positive human interaction. At home, it’s a punishable offence to glance at someone too long on the tube.
5. Portion Sizes
Go big or go home seems to be the motto when it comes to absolutely everything. And when it comes to food, I’m not complaining. A meal here will definitely fill you up and I find you generally get more for your money.
6. Frat Parties
Love is probably (read definitely) a strong word for how I felt about frat parties (I accidentally typed prat parties originally and I think that says a lot). What I suppose I really loved is a cheap night out. After living in London and having to go hard on the pre drinks before taking out a loan to buy a double vodka cranberry, frat parties were a dream. Free alcohol and a stones throw from my bed – yes please!