40 Things Only American Expats In London Will Understand

From being met with silence when you sneeze to constantly explaining where you’re from — Americans living in London, this one’s for you.

1. Finding out the hard way that people don’t talk to one another while waiting in line.

Sorry, I meant QUEUING.

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2. Or on a train.

“Oh, sorry, is this entire thing a ‘quiet carriage’?”

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3. Or when you’ve smacked your head on the Tube doors.

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4. When people behind the counter at shops think you’re a tourist because of your accent.

“Now be sure to wait until it says ‘remove card’ before taking it out of the machine or else it will void the transaction.”


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5. Having to pay for another Coke when you should be entitled to a free refill.

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6. Feeling a bit silly on the 4th of July.

“Hooray, we won! OH, LOOK, I CAME BACK.”

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7. Feeling incredibly proud on 29 January 2009 when this happened.

Chip Somodevilla / Via Getty


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8. And then feeling really awkward every time something like this happens.

So. Embarrassing.

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9. When you realised you have to GET OUT OF YOUR CAR to order takeaway.

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10. And pick up a prescription.

Boots, get on this.

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11. AND get your Starbucks.

Although there are a sacred few drive-through Starbucks outside of London. Makes total sense to drive 40 minutes down the motorway just for a Caramel Frappuccino, right?

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12. Basically just having to walk everywhere.

But you eventually got used to having to walk most places. And now when you go back home you’re confused about having to drive somewhere that’s literally five minutes away.

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13. Because of this, you’ve memorised where all of the nearest drive-through restaurants are.

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14. When the Pumpkin Spice Latte came to the U.K. and made your dreams come true.

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15. When you wanted some cookies at 9 p.m. on a Sunday and realised that NOTHING IS OPEN.

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16. When you want ANYTHING after 9 p.m. on a weekday and NOTHING IS OPEN.

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17. When you sneeze and you’re not met with 1,000 “BLESS YOU!”s.

“Guess I’ll just bless myself then.”

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18. When the only thing you feel like doing is wandering around Target and you CAN’T.

“Hi, Mom, can you FaceTime me from Target? THANKS.”

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19. Being hungover and realising that the only thing that will make you feel better is Taco Bell.

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20. And then realising you don’t know know where the fuck Basildon is so it doesn’t even matter that there’s one in the U.K. anyway.

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21. Trying to figure out how British doors work.

“Oh you have to press a button to get out?”

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22. Learning how to say “twat” the correct way.

Twat rhymes with “bat.”

Twat does not rhyme with “swat.”

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23. The first time you went to visit your new GP and realised you didn’t have a co-pay.

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24. And got birth control for free. FREE, GUYS.

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25. Before you had ever seen Doctor Who, you were like:

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26. And then you realised it was the most amazing thing ever, so now you’re all like:

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27. When you discovered Father Ted for the first time.

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28. And Peep Show!

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29. Being confused when America plays England in the World Cup. (Even more confused than this newspaper headline.)

Cate Sevilla
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30. When Tesco started selling American treats.


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31. When you go visit somewhere outside of London where they clearly never get American visitors and you suddenly feel like a giant North American alien.

“Hi, yeah, I’m different, hello…”

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32. Initially being freaked out the police in the U.K. don’t have guns, but then slowly getting used to it and now freaking out that just about anyone in the U.S. can have one.

And then being freaked out when you DO see the police in the U.K. carrying guns.

It’s a vicious, violent circle.

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33. The first time you heard “God Save the Queen” and were like, “Wait, these are the wrong words.”

“God save our graaaacious queen / Sweet land of liberty, of thee I siiiiing.”

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34. Explaining where you’re from and why you’ve moved for the zillionth time. (Especially if you’re from somewhere hot.)

“Yeah, the weather is different here.”

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35. When you found out British food is actually amazing. (Where the hell did those rumors come from?)

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36. When you’re in the U.K. for Thanksgiving and can’t find Stove Top Stuffing anywhere.


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37. When you learned there was more to beer than just Miller Lite.

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38. When you went out for drinks with your colleagues expecting you would eventually go sit down and have dinner somewhere. You soon discovered this doesn’t happen, and were introduced to the world of KEBABS.

“Kabobs? Like shish kabobs?”

“No, keBABS.”

“Kebabs? What the fuck is that?”

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39. How your British friends acted when you adopted things like “fucking hell” and “c***” into your daily vocabulary.

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40. When you stop and stare at London and are in awe that you get to live somewhere so bloody gorgeous.

Being an American in London isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely always worth it.

Thanks for adopting us, London.

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Cate Sevilla is the UK managing editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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