After being in Salt Lake City for a month I thought I should write about the differences I’ve started to notice of here compared to the UK and although the “dreaded” culture shock has not hit, I’m sure it will do at some point soon.
There are some things here that have almost definitely lived up to the stereotype of America. One being the Utah State Fair, walking around it on a Friday evening made me feel like I was living out the ending of the musical Grease. It had the brightly lit rides that looked about as safe as walking on ice blindfolded, the food vendors selling “hot dogs on sticks”, “deep fried Oreo’s” and pretty much anything that contained grease or sugar. My roommate had insisted that I try a funnel cake, which turned out to be amazing but I suppose any kind of batter deep fried and covered in icing sugar would be.
Sticking to the topic of food, it is everywhere here. On the UTA Trax into the city I pass so many chains ranging from Wendy’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, the list could go on. The portion sizes are also pretty extreme (a small here is a large back home) so it’s really no wonder why America has such a high obesity rate. Being a true Brit I do miss biscuits and tea. America has its English tea scene all wrong (supermarkets will stock hundreds of herbal teas but rarely will you find a decent English brew) and the closest you can get to a custard cream is a golden Oreo.
Another stereotype that American’s live up to is the American Football spirit. College football here is a big deal as mentioned in my last blog and the majority of people wear the colours, or at least have a car sticker. It’s broadcast on cable, radio and even Twitter. The rivalries are also fierce, especially in the case of this past Saturday’s game against the neighbouring college BYU (the LDS college), to which not so tasteful Mormon jokes were made.
A big difference is the English language itself. Sitting in a class and hearing “aluminium” said completely wrong is funny the first time, but after that it gets quite irritating. I’ve been told that some lecturers penalise students for not using American English in assignments, which I have luckily yet to come across such a human being because I resent having to use “z” over “s”: it is just plain wrong. Another wrong thing is global maps here. America decided to make itself central on map printings, which is very inconvenient considering the UK is normally central due to the fact Greenwich has the zero degree longitude. So looking at a map for a term project just has me all sorts of confused.
A geographical difference is that Utah is very mountainous. South England is not. Pretty much any outing means walking up at least one giant uphill climb and the altitude difference is something that I didn’t really notice at first, but I sure did notice it when hiking up a mountain for a field trip- not how one expects to spend their Sunday. Especially when you have two left feet and fall over flat ground, let alone climbing upwards (surprisingly it was the downwards trek that involved me falling and I’m now fashioning a nice bruise and graze on my knee). Hiking is another big thing here, just simply because there are plenty of hidden trails that lead you into a maze of trees and rocks. I will admit once getting to the top of Lake Cecret the views were astounding.
Other aspects of life that are different here to the UK are the roads. They’re pretty scary, twice the size, the other side of the road and according to some of my classmates from other states, Utah has the worst drivers they’ve encountered. So it doesn’t provide much confidence when travelling by car.
One thing that the UK and Utah have in similar is the weird weather, here 5 pm is the hottest time of day which is bizarre. I can leave at 9 am and feel freezing wearing in a jumper but by the end of the afternoon it can be 10 degrees Celsius warmer! It just doesn’t add up. Mind you neither does the lack of a summer back home, although ironically the weather in the UK has been nice since I left for Salt Lake City.
So my time here so far has been a mixed bag from the disasters of my last blog to the different experiences compared to those at home and I’m definitely looking forward to what the following months have to offer. Thanks for reading! 🙂