Five things you probably didn’t know about America

We have learnt a lot about us since we have got here, a lot about things we miss and some things we don’t miss as much as we thought we would about England and lots about America. Obviously we knew it wouldn’t be exactly as imagined or pictured in TV and films, but we have still been very surprised:

  1. Much dry, so parched, very water

The first thing we noticed here when we arrived was the altitude and the dryness. To be specific, Fort Collins is 4892 feet above sea level (about 5 Eiffel towers) and the humidity is around 50% (for reference, England is about 80% at the moment). This might not seem like much, but our English host family Rosemary & Chris made us go to bed the first night with water by the bed and sure enough, we woke up in the night really dehydrated.

This is figuratively how my mouth feels when I wake up
This is literally figuratively how my mouth feels when I wake up

I’d say I’m drinking about 2 pints a day more water than I used to need in England and today is the first day I haven’t woken up during the night needing water.

  1. Money, money, money, always sunny, in the rich man’s world

Ok, so US money is really weird.

The notes are all the same size and colour and look like monopoly money and the coins… well I just have no idea what they even mean!

It's over NINE THOUSAND!!!!!
It’s over NINE THOUSAND!!!!!

How much money even is this? $0.5, $100? Who even knows?

At first, I started paying for things in notes, that was all fine but I keep being given change in coins. Once my wallet started getting uncomfortably heavy, I tried to pay for things partly with coins. TWICE I tried, panicked and paid by card. I even went to use a vending machine, stared at it for 30 seconds then gave up and just had some water.

Eventually, I manned-up and paid in notes and coins. The trusty British-person-on-holiday strategy of keep putting coins in the cashiers hand until they say stop worked a treat.

  1. English?

You might think that English and American people speak the same language. You may think that there are only a few subtle differences. If so you would be wrong. There are so many different words for things here, fortunately we have quickly adapted to:

Gas (petrol)
Liquor (alcohol)
Trash (bin)
Apartment (flat)
Elevator / lift (I genuinely have no idea anymore which of these belongs to which)

The biggest problem for me is cheers. Brought up in Bristol, I say cheers in place of thank you all the time. I even say ‘cheers drive’ when I get off the bus. Unfortunately, Americans only say cheers when drinking so if you use it out of context you sound like an alcoholic. I have tried ‘thank you’ or ‘ have a great day’ but it’s just not proper!

  1. Amber

So there me and Cat were, sat at home watching Netflix after dinner and suddenly my phone starts shouting THIS IS AN AMBER ALERT, THIS IS AN AMBER ALERT. I panicked as I didn’t think I had phoned anyone in my pocket and accidently put it on speaker… and also why would whoever I phoned be shouting AMBER ALERT at me?

Turns out, the Colorado Department of Public Safety have what’s called an amber alert program. Basically, the amber alert is a state-wide broadcast to help track down abducted children. This gives everybody from their phones, TV’s and radios the latest information so that missing children can be tracked down and rescued. We were really impressed by this and although quite scary and unsettling, the more you think about it, the more clever it is. They also have alerts for severe weather warnings like big snowfall. If you want an interesting but sombre read, you can find out about the history here:

PS// The amber alert we got a call about was resolved and the people were found safe.

Anyway, to end on a lighter note:

  1. Guns

Now I know what you’re thinking…
Rob that was a bit dark for a blog and now guns, WTF mate –
…just hear me out please.

Without wishing to offend my American friends, British people kind of think of Americans like this…

America, ooh yeah!
America, ooh yeah!

Now this is obviously false as we will prove and explain in out blog, but the first big surprise of the inaccuracy of this idea is the gun wielding.

On our third day in Fort Collins, we went to Walmart as we’d heard they had a gun section in the supermarket, but they didn’t. No guns on show at all. In fact we haven’t seen a single gun since we got here!

Apparently some states have more guns than others (cough Texas cough), and of course just because we haven’t seen any, many people may still have them locked away in a safe, but this was lovely news to us.

Maybe some classic gun heavy films could do with some adaptation to better reflect the average American:

I'm sorry, did I break your concentration with my thumbs up?
I’m sorry, did I break your concentration with my thumbs up?

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