English musings in NYC

5 odd things about being a Brit living in NYC…

Awesomely, since moving to NYC we have settled in and can go about our day to day business without really noticing any massive differences. But as mentioned in Across the Pond, culture shock is hidden in NYC, in places you just weren’t expecting.

Reactions to my voice - Love Actually would have us believe that the British accent is charming and irresistible to Americans and many friends have assured me that I’ll just need to open my mouth and all New Yorkers will fall at my feet. Needless to say, I was a little bit skeptical of this gross stereotype. However, there is no ignoring the reactions that my accent has been getting. I was in Starbucks getting a Passion Tango iced tea (a-ma-zing!!) and when I ordered, the barista looked at me like I was a little bit crazy. Assuming I’d ordered incorrectly I started apologising profusely, subconsciously kicking the British accent into full gear. After clarifying that we were British and not Australian he continued to ask us what London is like and shared that when he has finished training to be a pilot, London is at the top of the list of places he wants to fly. The British Accent (not Australian) - making friends and building bridges one awkward apology at a time.

Plugs - Firstly, it is a pain to try and find all the right adaptors for our laptops etc. Apple do make it easier because the cables all have changeable ends, but in true Apple style it costs an arm and a leg to get the new cables. Sorry, Apple, but we need our arms and legs for other things. Secondly, the wall sockets here look like little shocked characters all over the apartment, and it’s as though they’re mirroring my feelings about how shockingly awful they are… on most devices there is NO EARTH PRONG! On the ones that do have them, the socket is upside down, meaning as the plug invariably falls out over time, it reveals a load of live metal.  Buuuut they do look fun. Meet Fred, Petunia, George and Rodrigo who hang out in our wall.

Guns - Now obviously people aren’t just swinging them around all over the place but I know they’re out there... This oddity (read: terrifying fact) was highlighted to me as we were setting up our U.S. bank account when I noticed a police man (sorry, cop), standing behind us in line. I saw his gun and instantly felt woozy. Even though his job is all about protection I suddenly had visions of him whipping off his mask revealing himself to be a green villain with 12 arms from a marvel film (I know that that isn’t actually a film, but you know what I mean), pointing his gun at me and yelling "GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR. DO NOT LOOK AT ME, I SAID DO NOT LOOK AT ME." A bit intense, sure, and Ted pointed out that the cop's presence probably made getting held up in a bank robbery a tad less likely.

Tipping - It’s not that I don’t approve of tipping - I’m fine with tipping, it is just that it’s not always obvious who you tip and how much of your life's savings you should tip… I don’t want to be the ignorant Brit that tips appallingly or the one that's naive and can be walked all over. Luckily, we’re getting to the point where we know enough true New Yorkers to give us some tips (not the monetary kind) about these complicated customs.

Apartment hunting - I will write (a lot) more on this topic in the future but for now let's think on this: in New York, to be considered for your apartment, your annual income needs to be 40 to 50 times your monthly rent. There are, just about, ways around this rule, BUT it means paying both our arms and both of our legs! See Apple, I told you we needed all of our limbs to pay for other things.

There's no doubt that it's a learning curve when you're a newbie in NYC, but it's learning that I'm willing to do, because after all it's New York (cue lights, camera, action... music meistro...'start spreading the news').