British expat’s ‘harrowing’ story of moving to ‘flag-obsessed’ US – ‘I burst into tears’

TikTok user compares UK living habits to the US

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British expat Vicki moved to the US in 1985 and didn’t have any plans to be leaving “any time soon”. A US citizen since 2002, Vicky said she “still cherish – and use – my British passport”.

Moving to the US to study a PhD, Vicky settled into American life and now has two sons “born here in the USA and both are thoroughly American children”.

But the relocation wasn’t without its challenges.

Vicky said: “About two months after my arrival in the States, it suddenly hit me that this was not just an extended holiday but would be my life for the foreseeable future.

“I remember standing on the street near the University of Pennsylvania looking for a place to post a letter home to my mum.

“I was looking for a friendly, round, red British-style post box and instead was confronted with an ugly, square, dark blue American mailbox.”

The realisation she had relocated for the foreseeable future was too much for Vicky and she “burst into tears”.

She also said: “There’s a harrowing story about the first time I ordered tea at the college snack bar (well, harrowing for an Englishwoman, at least).

“It took forever to convince the server that yes, I wanted hot tea and yes, with milk.

“She filled a styrofoam cup with hot water, added a splash of milk, then handed me the cup with a tea bag on the side.

“But once I got over that first round of culture shock, the transition became a lot easier.”

Vicky got over the challenges of expat life, but there are still things she misses.

She said: “The only real negative is the lack of decent beer!

“It’s also a bit of a drawback that people react every time you speak — usually in a good way, Americans love an English accent.

“It can get tiresome having to answer the ‘where are you from?!’ question every time you meet someone.”

Vicky had one advice for fellow Britons looking to relocate to the US: “Give Americans a chance!”

She continued: “Don’t be surprised at the plethora of American flags everywhere; it’s not a sign of rampant nationalism!

“Americans are more vocally proud of their country than most Europeans, certainly more so than most Britons tend to be.

“But they are also very curious about other people and countries.

“The near-religious addiction to the flag and the national anthem are more the signs of a young country than anything else.”

She said expats should “learn to look past the American flag obsession”.

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