10 Things British Expats Will Miss About the UK

When in doubt, grab some Marmite off the shelf. (Photo via AP)

Ditch Blighty for the U.S., and you may find yourself longing for the best of British.

1. Marmite
Actually, you can sometimes find the delicious brown gloop in U.S. supermarkets, although I’ve no idea who’s buying the stuff – other than the odd homesick Brit. Every American I’ve consulted on this has either never heard of Marmite or thinks it’s repulsive. Anyway, if you want to pick up a jar, try the baking aisle (you know, because of the yeast) of any grocery store. Expect to pay double what you would in the UK.

2. People saying sorry when it’s not their fault
Back home, if someone bumps into me, I’ll apologize profusely without even thinking about it. Similarly, if I decide to gallop headfirst into a fellow pedestrian, I expect them to respond with suitable contrition. Here, weirdly, it’s the responsible party who’s expected to utter the “S” word.

3. Tea (that isn’t Lipton):
The go-to brew in these parts is unthinkably vile to proper British tea drinkers. Lipton (*dry wretches*) has somehow managed to dominate the American tea market for over a century. Okay, you can buy other brands here but it’s still what every waiter pours out when this parched Brit orders a cuppa.

4. Room temperature beer
Here’s another British-born yeast product that’s been tragically misinterpreted by its American foster parents. Craft beers with cute names are huge news in big cities, which is exciting until you discover that they serve them up cold. COLD. Unless you enjoy a hypothermic top note, grasp your pint glass between your thighs for a bit. Eventually your body heat will free up some flavor.

5. Winding city streets
A fun thing to do in European cities is to get lost exploring their meandering boulevards and back alleys. When your landscape is broad streets that slot together at perfect 90-degree angles, like they do in countless U.S. cities, it’s not nearly as pleasurable. Then again, the grid system ensures you won’t get lost to begin with.

6. A National Health Service:
Insist all you want that government provided health care is an infringement of your human right to get sick and have no one give a hoot. I’ve tried paying and not paying for medical treatment and, shockingly, I like the version where I get free stuff – regardless of my financial status – better.

7.) Balanced news coverage:
If there’s a serious news show in the U.S. that provides impartial coverage (i.e. doesn’t act as a mouthpiece for a political party) then I’m yet to hear about it. British news fiends will find themselves longing for more balanced UK-style current affairs programs. Luckily, you can stream BBC radio here without breaking any licensing laws.

8. Sunday pub roasts
Some weekends, I’d even settle for withered, spongy roast potatoes and beef so old and grey it’s more likely diplodocus than cow. Of course, it would need to be served with warm beer.

9. Lamb
Having searched, unsuccessfully, for lamb in five New York supermarkets, I recently found myself wondering if the U.S. even has sheep. I certainly can’t remember seeing one. “But I’m sure they had them in Brokeback Mountain,” I thought. (The Internet was down so this wasn’t resolved as quickly as it might have been.) Later, Google informed me that America does in fact have a healthy ovine population. Where the sheep go on sale once they’re dead is still a mystery.

10. Marks and Spencer’s underwear
My smalls are in dangerous need of update but nowhere makes workaday lingerie like M&S. Please someone tell me which U.S. stores stock cheap, well made, no frills lady things. All the American knickers I’ve fondled so far are either poor quality, uncomfortably slutty or too high end for mooching about in.

Anything you’re missing right about now?

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.

See more posts by Ruth Margolis