It’s been 8 years since I last visited England.. and a lot has changed, but what I didn’t expect – is the changes that you can’t see.. those that happen inside.
It started when we first landed and exited Heathrow. The comments from my team mates were, quite frankly, hilarious! I just sat quietly in the van on the way to the hotel laughing in amusement!
- Screams of alarm because the cars on the M4 are so fast/ close/ close together / so so many of them
- Wow.. why are the houses made of brick?
- Sooo many chimneys
- The roads are so skinny!
- Why are the front doors so close to the road?
- Where are the gardens?
- Where are the garages?
- There are sooo many castles (not castles, just small churches/ chapels / historic houses)
- Where are the Asians?
- I can hardly hear anyone speaking English
It sure is interesting to see what your home country looks like from a foreigners point of view. They also couldn’t quite believe that England doesn’t get earth quakes.
But the thing that was the biggest shock to me was how I felt about England. It did not feel like I was ‘coming home’. More that I was visiting an old friend. And I was very quickly reminded of why I left and why I wouldn’t live here again.
- Everyone feels like they are rushing
- The stress of this type of pace of life
I also quickly found that England cannot out-do New Zealand on the coffee front, even if it does on the tea front! ￼
And.. what was the biggest shock to me was the customer service. Here in England I feel like everyone is angry, pressured or in a rush and therefore customer care is almost non existent. I miss the friendliness, genuine conversation that comes with customer service in New Zealand. And I’m not the only one who has noticed this: the Kiwis on my team also made the same comment.
In the places I have been so far, I have found that disability almost gets ignored – pedestrians almost trip over you rather than stand back for you. Some shops have been so crowded with produce I can’t even get my wheelchair through the front door.
But, when I’m standing up with crutches, things are very different. It’s saddening to be honest because I – quite frankly – don’t think NZ are very good at disability at all, but from a general society point of view, the places I have been so far in England seem to be worse.
That makes me very sad indeed. And to add to that, Indian cab drivers and polish cafe owners have been the most welcoming. What is the world coming to?
Things I miss
- Some of the high st stores I can’t get in NZ
- The easy availability of goods and services due to the geographical closeness to Europe (I ordered a specialist compression garment – had it delivered and in my hands in 3 days. I’m NZ it takes 6-8 weeks)
- The availability of many cultures and countries close by – again because it is close to Europe
- The history – NZ is such a young country it really has none
- Some UK only foods that are not available in NZ
Predominantly though, I don’t miss it. Not at all, which shocks me. I miss being able to see friends and family so easily, but I don’t miss England.
Miles are weird, I now think in km. £ is foreign, I now convert it back to $. And it’s very odd to hear my own accent again.
This will not stop be being proud to be British, but New Zealand is now my ‘home’.