Though the two countries may share a common language, America
is very different from Britain
in many ways. There are many stereotypes about the U.S.
, most of them completely unfair. However there are a few that generally ring true. So having talked to a group of friends, here is my top 10 of things Britons should not do while in America.
Please note that this is obviously supposed to be humorous as well as helpful. Some people have taken this far too seriously!
1. Do not order super-sized portions.
Regular portions are large enough for most Britons. Don't even feel tempted. You may find you leave some of the regular portion untouched as it is. Remember that guy that tried the McDonald's diet and was begged by doctors to stop? Yes, that's what could happen to you if you're greedy!
2. Do not take a cab during rush hour.
It's very simple. If you've never tried to travel by car in London, you'll be in for a shock. If you take a cab at this time, you'll also have a heart attack when you pay the fare at the end of the ride. It would probably be quicker to walk, take the metro, etc.
3. Do not be paranoid when walking around big cities at night.
Serious crime has fallen in the U.S. considerably since the 80s. It's no worse than in the U.K.
4. Do not take the mickey out of the Police.
In America, the Police do not take kindly to being teased or mocked. Just because a British policeman/woman will ignore your drunken ravings, does not mean that an American one will fail to push your face into the ground.
5. Do not get out of your car when you are pulled over by the Police.
Though they are happy to serve the public, the Police in the states also have a problem with gun crime. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and just do as they ask. Getting out and waving might result in guns being drawn and you making your pants rather moist. (qousqous also correctly points out not to put hands into pockets or glove compartments without before telling the officer you are getting your licence)
6. Do not call the Americans "colonials".
Yes, I know we call the Australians that, but that tends to be in the U.K. Americans have a very strong sense of pride and constantly referring to the American War of Independence is likely to result in a whole world of pain for you, especially on the 4th of July.
7. Do not forget that we burnt the White House down.
Yes, I know I said that you should not provoke Americans. But inevitably some of your new friends will tease you about how we lost the war. Reminding them of this symbolic little gem is a witty riposte.
8. Do not forget to queue.
In Europe we often have to push concertedly to get on the bus or train. But it is a misconception that Americans do not queue. They do, so remember to be polite and help old ladies on first. The exceptions to this are getting a cab in New York and waiting for department sales (in the case of the latter, people go mad the world over).
9. Do not forget to tip.
Tipping is very important in America. In Britain, service is often included in the bill and there is a minimum wage. In America, tipping can be a large part of a waiter's/waitress' salary. Don't be cheap.
10. Do not use words like "pavement" or "petrol".
This is normally not a problem, but there's always someone who doesn't remember. Just pretend that there is a language called "American" that is similar but not the same to English. Using words like "sidewalk" and "gas" will help stop potential misunderstandings.