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7 Ways the UK Ruined the US for Me

United Kingdom United States
by Matt Hershberger Apr 16, 2015

About 3 years ago, I moved to the UK to pursue a Master’s degree. I was only there for a year before I moved back to the United States, but I’ve never recovered. The UK just has too much to offer that the US doesn’t. Take back your purple mountain’s majesty and amber waves of grain America. I want to go back to being a colony, if for no other reason than I want to be able to get an easy visa back to London.

1. I now expect there to be little to no music at the bars.

Pubs in the UK are places where you get together to hang out and talk. Some of them may be a bit noisy, particularly during football games, but one thing the management never does is play music so loud that you can’t hear yourself speak in a pub where no one is dancing.

In the US, for some obnoxious, inexplicable reason, bar owners feel the need to blast music all the damn time, even if the bar is empty. It’s completely unacceptable. That’s what clubs and live concerts are for.

2. I now think universal healthcare is a human right.

A lot of Brits I know like to complain about the NHS, but virtually no one wants the US system. In my last month in the UK, I stocked up on enough asthma meds to last me 2 years. Their cost in the UK was about $12 USD. When the doctor handed me the prescription, she actually apologized about the price. In the US, the same amount of meds would have cost me at least $200.

3. I now have a sense of history, and find the US to be lacking in it.

The US has a few hundred years of history under its belt at this point, so one can hardly say we’re a young or a boring country. We’ve had a lot of cool things happen to us. But it’s been spread out over a vast area. In the UK, there are 2000 years of relatively well-documented history crammed into a few tiny islands. The amount of history in London alone is absurd. I lived near Spitalfields, right across from Miller’s Court, where the final Jack the Ripper victim was murdered. Right around the corner was the site of an infamous IRA bombing and around the other corner was a famous church. You couldn’t walk through London without tripping over some famous site or artifact.

Here in the US, towns rise and fall a lot quicker, and we’re much happier to tear down our buildings. It just makes everything seem so fleeting and drab, as if we have no connection to our past.

4. I can no longer get anywhere in the country in under four hours.

Say what you want about UK transit, I loved the fact that everywhere was quickly accessible. The variety of different places and landscapes in the US is stunning, but I can never get there. You don’t just pop over to Utah from New Jersey (where I am now) for 4 days. You’ve got to make that into a 2 week trip. In the meantime, I was able to do a 3 day trip to the Scottish Highlands from London without breaking a sweat.

5. No American accent is sexy.

Americans who think that all British accents are sexy have not heard all of the different British accents. But there just aren’t any sexy American accents. There’s no one here who says a word that rolls off their tongue in a way that’s so delightful it makes me giggle with joy.

6. Overly friendly people now piss me off.

I’m not saying there weren’t friendly people in the UK: even the famously gruff Londoners I found to be warm and kind. But no one I met in the UK pretended they liked me more than they actually did. If I meet someone now and they act really warm towards me, I immediately think, “Why are you so excited to meet me? You don’t know me. I could turn out to be a complete dick. Reel it back in a bit.”

British reserve has ruined American friendliness for me.

7. I miss having celebrities people are proud of.

What I love about the monarchy is that it provides the country with a set of wacky, spoiled, aimless, slightly-racist celebrities that everyone loves. We just don’t have that here in the US. No one in the US is famous because of Divine Right — they’re famous because they starred in some dumb movie, sung a shitty song on TV, or were the heiresses of O.J. Simpson’s incredibly expensive lawyer.

The celebrities provided by the monarchy are just as ludicrous as ours — but they do our celebrities one better by leaning into it and claiming that they not only deserve to be celebrities because God says so, but because they are the heart and soul of the country itself. Not even Kanye West has that much hubris.

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