28 February 2010

Lack of Convenience

So I've been in this country for a year and 8 months and since then I've been building up a list of conveniences which I miss about the US. Don't get me wrong, there are loads of things which we have in the UK which aren't back home which I think are great like cream teas, decent public transport, exceptional, long history, amazing architecture, fantastic culture which changes every 20 miles, great pubs all over the place filled with interesting people. But none of this (except for the public transport) really helps me out day-to-day.

Let me begin my rant of missing conveniences with something small, actually everything small. Everything in the UK is small. The houses are small, bedrooms are small, food and toiletry packages and are small (so you have to buy twice as much of everything to last you just as long), the cars are small, which is good because the parking spaces are small. The shops are small. Everything is small. Which goes onto the fact that there's just no space. My house is a normal 2 bedroom, terraced house which is a very common residence for a couple of Steve's a my age to live in... in the UK. In the US, this house would be considered teeny tiny. The ceilings are lower, and rooms are smaller, the garden is smaller, the kitchen is half the size it should be and melds with the dining room. Our couch barely fits into our living room and it's a small couch. I feel claustrophobic sometimes.

Another small part of the houses in the garage. On the way to work last week I only saw one house on the 30 minute drive which had a 2 car garage. Nearly everyone here has one-car garages and I've never even heard of anyone here having an automatic garage door opener. Nor have I heard of a door going directly from the house to the garage. If I want to get something from my one-car garage, I have to go out my front door, walk past the neighbors house, usually through the rain, and open up my garage manually with a key. This isn't uncommon for a lot of people here.

Of course having a garage doesn't even really matter which brings me to the next convenience I miss: driving. I've been driving for 11 years. 11 years and I STILL have to start over from the beginning when it comes to getting my UK license. That means taking all 3 of the driving exams, 2 of which are actually a bit difficult, particularly the practical driving exam where they fail you for tiny little things like not turning your head enough to look at your mirrors. If I had come from mainland Europe, I'd just be able to switch my license out for a UK one with no problems, but noooooooo. It's annoying.

Some other quick things I really miss:
-Dishwashers: they're becoming more and more common here, but with the size of my kitchen, where the heck am I going to put it?! Newer houses have them, but if your place wasn't built in the last couple of years then it's not built in and you have to buy your own which is portable??
-Central heating/AC: Central heating over here comes in the form of radiators in each room which have boiling water running through them and are usually connected to the hot water heater somehow. Usually this is a good thing because it uses gas rather than electric and uses the hot water from the boiler (I think?) but if you touch one you burn your hand off! And you can't put furniture in front of them because the furniture blocks the heat and it's a hazard. So basically because the rooms are so small and the radiator is so big and you can't put furniture in front of them, they basically take out an entire wall of usable space. Plus there's no AC, but I guess it's not like you really need it because it only gets hot for like a couple weeks in the summer here anyway.
- Dryers: The good thing about central heating is that it's useful because there's no space for a dryer, so you hang your wet clothes from the washer over the radiators or on a clothes horse to dry when it's raining outside. But I really miss having a dryer because the clothes came out hot and fluffy and wrinkle-free and wonderful. But there's just no place to put it and the garage is too far away and has no electricity.
-Mixer taps in the bathroom: one hot tap and one cold tap. The hot tap is scalding and the cold tap is freezing. How the heck do you wash your hands with warm water? There's two different temperatures coming from two different taps! It's not even like they're coming from one tap. The only way to get warm water is to pug up the sink and fill it up with a mix of scalding hot and freezing cold water and wash your hands in the pool of water. It seems like it'd even be more work to plumb two different taps.

Anyway, I really miss things being easy and convenient. I miss things happening quickly and effortlessly. I do love living here and if I were given the chance to move back right now, I probably wouldn't. But it would be nice to have a few of these things just to help out a little bit.

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