Well after my essay on my first 6 months here, I started to ponder the things I love and the things I hate about living in the US (maybe Colorado specifically) thus far. None of these have had to be thought up, they’ve been on my mind since I have been here so this should be pretty easy!
Let’s start with HATE
- Toilets – There are two things I hate about toilets here. The first is applicable to all toilets whether t home or in an office, bar etc. The toilets are quite low which I can get over, what I cannot stand is that they are low AND they are filled so much with water. Now, the British are mostly reserved so it is our mission to pee has quietly as humanly possible, even when at home. This is nigh on impossible with a US toilet and if you want to keep the noise down, you are basically summoning the floor to a soaking.
Now there is a bit of a Brucey Bonus one here, because toilets outside of the home seriously fail on the privacy side. Again, harping on about British reservedness, going to the toilet in public is something that you just want over as quietly and stress-free as possible. I would NEVER go #2 outside in the US for the following reasons.
Firstly, there is way way too big a gap at the bottom of the door, why does everybody need to see most of the person’s legs who is taking a dump? It’s beyond ridiculous and I would never be able to go at work just knowing the person who has walked in knows who I am from my legs/trainers.
Secondly, and this is an absolute deal breaker. The locks on these metal doors mean there is always a significant gap between the door and the frame, meaning anybody that glances in can you see plain as day – No Thank You! My poor mother encountered this when going for a #1 in a bar, a woman tried the locked door and obviously could not get in, so she peers through the gap whilst my mother is on the toilet and waves to apologise making eye contact. Absurd design and it’s the type of thing that makes me forego Elon Musk being a clown because his engineering skills are absolutely needed in this country, let’s hope he moves onto toilets after electric cars and space rockets.
2. Chicken – Now, I have to say the chicken tenders and all that kind of stuff is really good, and I think I have had some decent chicken out too, but the supermarket chicken breasts are absolutely vile. It’s not necessarily the taste but the texture, it’s tough and makes me gag. I am not sure if it’s the chlorinated thing, different cut to what we have in the UK or if it’s they feed the chickens Maccy D’s before they’re sent for the chopper. I’ve stopped buying it, even though my old man got it to be decent on the grills whilst they were visiting. Chicken is a no no from supermarket, maybe I need to give organic a go, might be better quality.
3. ‘I appreciate you‘ – Pass me the sick bucket. I have to say I have been really impressed with Colorado as it is definitely toned down on the jazz hands have a nice day scale from a lot of the places I have been to in the US. I always chuckle on this kind of topic because I cannot stop thinking about Michael Whitehall in this clip from Travels with my Father https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnOuA4LpsHM . Anyway, back to ‘I appreciate you’, there’s a lot of it going on, instead of a good old fashioned ‘Thank you’, they go the whole hog, ‘I appreciate you’… not ‘I appreciate it’ or what you have just done, instead the person you have met for 30 seconds you appreciate them wholeheartedly, do me a favour! Ironically, I was always referred to as ‘Mr please thank you thank you please’ by an old mentor of mine as he used to comment on the valleys way of saying please and thank you a ridiculous amount of times per transaction but this is even a step too far for me. On that note, this is what a typical transaction looks like for me, for e.g. I would say, could I have a bag of a chips PLEASE? They would reply yeah sure, I would say THANK YOU, they may then say no problem to which I would reply THANKS. Would you like Salt and Vinegar? Yes PLEASE, THANK YOU when they go to do it. They would then say £4.00 please to which I would reply THANK YOU when I handed them to the money, THANK YOU when they handed me the change and THANK YOU when they handed me the chips!)
4. Dogs in Apartments – Everybody but me in Colorado owns a dog, there are huge dog parks bigger than national parks in the UK and my apartment complex even has its own dog park. There are dog stations everywhere, dog washing areas and all sorts. I love dogs as do all my family, especially my sister who runs the Dog Trust centre in Cardiff but I just cannot understand or grasp the idea that dogs live in apartments, it just does my head in. If you have a big old thing jumping about in an apartment or barking when its owner has pissed off for a few hours, it just disturbs everybody un-necessarily. The odd dog will bark at any bugger walking by too. To be fair, all in all, they don’t disturb me at all, I was just taken aback by the sheer number of dogs in Colorado and in apartments. I have been slightly put off by the fact I have had two dogs go at me since I have been here, one was particular frightening. I was walking back to the apartment (had no car at time) with my backpack, sunnies and a hat on. There was lady walking a Rottweiler and I thought nothing of it, strolled passed but then it really pulled at her lead to go for me. I jumped onto the grass banking and she looked surprised. said not sure if he likes me or hates me and she said she had not seen it do that before. Anyway, I thought it best she walked along and I stayed on the grass banking and as she walked by me it pulled her to go at me again so hard she did a 360 turn! If she dropped the lead I was minced meat, and I have no idea what triggered it. I was convinced she was a dog walker too although not 100% sure, could have been the owner but she didn’t sort of say it’s name asking it what it was up to.
5. Sales Tax – The price on the tag is never the price you pay, that is because Sales tax is added and it’s different for different categories of items. It’s never massive, but it’s just stupid, stick it onto the tag price so we have a clue!
6. Plastic Galore – I am no tree hugging hippie but I see the huge strides we are making in the UK with green policies and I move here and think why do we bother! I know in reality we need to do what we can do, a bit of personal responsibility in a world where that is crumbling but these guy dish out plastic bags like smarties and the single plastics situation is even worse. They have it everywhere, the breads all have a little plastic clip which would probably take 1000000 years to decompose, everything is single wrapped in plastic, very odd. I have not even started to mention the trucks situation and how old a lot of them are pumping shit out into the air, but trust me, Sleepy Joe and China need to up their game or our bags for life in little old Great Britain will not do jack shit.
7. Red indicators – I mean this is just daft. On some cars the indicators are red, so in the night you have the red lights at the back of the car and then the indicators are red too, absolutely foolish. I imagine it is only American made cars that subscribe to this idiocy. I found out, this is because US law doesn’t state it has to be amber, so car manufacturers save money by wiring one bulb or bulb group.
8. Speed limits – In general I am loving driving in the US so far, even if drivers are pretty stupid and you hear of awful crashes a LOT. Still, the one thing I find annoying is most of the speed limits are in 5s when speedometers are obviously in 10s. So speed limits are 45, 55, 65, 75 and they do have the rest too, like 40 etc but most common is these 5s… seems daft. Thankfully, there are 0 speed cameras and apparently police give you 5 miles an hour leeway.
9. More Food – I mentioned Chicken earlier but I need to just add a few more. Firstly, I miss sausages from the farm shops so badly. There are no British sausages out here easily accessed, although I am told there are some specialist butchers around Colorado but miles and miles away. It’s usually hotdog sausages (like tinned), Bratwurst, Italian sausages or breakfast skinny sausages. The next thing is gravy… I mean I used to think Bisto was poverty gravy but since I have tried the American pissy diarrhea brown gravy, Bisto is just gourmet! Luckily, I can also get it at the British section of the World store so I have my fix of Bisto (and my folks brought mint sauce, so happy days!). Finally, chocolate… everybody that knows me knows I am a chocoholic but I just cannot get on with it out here which has been a godsend because I just do not eat a lot of it anymore. The Cadbury’s stuff tastes different, Hersheys takes like a blend of sick and feet and the only bar which is keeping chocolate alive for me here is a Twix which is universally epic. I do occasionally buy artisan chocolates if I come across a nice hand-made store, but apartment from that, I am relatively chocolate free!
10. Tip culture – Last but not least and everybody knows about this, the tip culture. When you are travelling to the US, I have always found this a dawdle but when you live here and you have to go back to places it is a little more of a pain in the arse. I still think I get away from being a little tighter as I am British but now it’s almost expected 20% which I find mental, pay your bloody staff properly! I am still learning the lay of the land in terms of when to tip or not because surely you don’t need to tip somebody just standing behind a counter serving you fast food for example? It will definitely have an option on the screen though. I think in a bar it is quite easy, chuck them a dollar or two per drink but I still hate the whole concept because it is a standard. I much prefer no tipping being the norm and tipping for service over and above. Still, if you visit or move to a different country, you have to embrace the culture, so I am(ish).
Now onto the things I LOVE so far…
- The Weather – Wow, you do not truly believe the sayings about Colorado weather until you are here, it is ODD but great. It can change in an instant from snowstorm to blazing heat. I have been here from December – April when we were getting snow and have now started to experience to beautiful baking Summer. The best thing about the weather though, whether it is snowing or roasting is that the sun is always shining. 310 days sunshine a year and it makes so much difference to get up to the sun and see the sun in the evening. I remember the winter months in the UK, waking up and it’s dark and getting out of the office and it is dark, makes your mood so much better with the sun out, even if there is 3ft of snow around you. Small mention for the altitude here, I know not strictly weather but it is HARD to get used to. Colorado is mostly all over 1 mile above sea level, and I live around 1.2 miles above sea level and it stretches well beyond that in other areas. It is hard to describe but even walking up a few flights of steps gets you well out of breath because the heart has to work much harder to pump oxygen around the body (great for cardiovascular health though). The other thing about altitude, it takes ages to boil stuff, you get pissed really quickly and given the UV the sun can scorch you. Also, the weather is so dry here you have to keep the skin moisturised, mainly in the winter but humidity is non-existent in Colorado.
2. Rules of the road – I have already mentioned this but I really quite enjoy driving here, I am getting used to the 4 way stop but my favourite thing is definitely that you can turn right on a red light if clear, that is my favourite thing with huge parking spaced being a close 2nd (I imagine because so many people have trucks).
3. Sitting at bar culture – I am no stranger to going to a restaurant, cinema or bar on my own, I have no issues with it whatsoever, and the US culture of sitting by the bar is one I love. If you sit at the bar, you are really signing yourself up to striking conversations with the people around you and the bar staff.
4. Cleanliness – I cannot speak for the whole of the US here as I have seen it varies drastically of course along my travels but where I am in Broomfield, Colorado is really pristine and when you do not have an NHS to fund, you can see your taxes go towards so much more in terms of public services and amenities. There are pristine parks, dog parks, disc golf, tennis courts and all sorts, all very well kept and there are city (council) gardeners out all the time. Still, most of us would clearly choose free at the point of us healthcare over some nice parks I am sure.
5. Parks and Open Spaces – Tying into the above, the parks and open spaces are incredible and the opportunities for cycling are also amazing, you do not have to mess around with traffic as there are trails galore and there is even a US36 Bikeway which spans all the way from Boulder to Denver for cyclists. I am itching to get on all of these when my bike finally arrives!
6. Frozen Yoghurt & Smoothies – I mentioned earlier that chocolate is kind of off the menu for me at the moment, but I have found a suitable replacement. I am a big fan of the frozen yoghurt then chuck a load of m&ms, coconut and whatever else on top of it. I am loving Mango and Strawberry Lemonade flavours at the moment. I am also still in love with smoothies as I was in the UK, but I can access them so much more easily now and I do spend a fair dollar on them, although only really once a week at the moment.
7. The Apartment – I was zoned in on this apartment for a long time and it’s lived up to everything I hoped it would be. Amazing inside, great views of the mountains, great gym, pool, hot spa, grills and everything I could possibly need. The main thing for me, is that it is quiet, everybody was telling me to move into the hustle and bustle but that is not my thing. I am 6 months in and very glad I took a 16 month contract now, as I imagine cost will go up after that!
8. Sport – Colorado is packed full of sport. Avalanche (Hockey), Broncos (American Football), Nuggets (Basketball), Rapids (Football), Rockies (Baseball), Mammoth (Lacrosse) and Buffalos (College A/Football). It just means there is always sport on and there’s almost always an atmosphere/buzz going on with the teams. I have a ticket for Broncos opener and I CANNOT WAIT! I will have been to see all but the Buffaloes and Mammoth when the NFL season opens. In terms of Premier League coverage, I LOVE IT here, it’s so much better and all highlights available directly after the game as opposed to waiting to a MOTD type shit. The only problem is if Arsenal lose it’s early morning and I am miserable for the entire weekend, at least in the UK you get a morning of joy first before the depression.
9. Friendliness – I have to say the people are in Colorado are amazing. If you oversee the ‘I appreciate You’ thing in my Hates above then they really are a great friendly bunch. They are no where as happy clappy have a nice day as some states, but everybody is friendly, smiling and it’s easy to strike up a conversation with almost anybody.
10. Air Conditioning & Ceiling Fans – It is roasting and I have been using the ceiling fans a lot but I was giving it the Billy Big Balls saying ‘I love the Heat, I won’t need the Air Con’… it’s been on last week that is for certain, I could not sleep with just the ceiling fan on. It’s still about 24-26 overnight which is savage. Up the Air Con!! #UTAC
Give it another 6 months and I bet some of these will shuffle around from Loves to Hates and Vice Versa and no doubt many to add as the adventure continues!