I'm British, and I experienced the biggest culture shock when I started working in the US
- The UK and US may share a common language, but the cultural differences between America and Britain can make the two places feel like they're worlds apart.
- When it comes to work-life balance and careers, there are some major differences between American and British work styles.
- As a British person living and working in America, one of the biggest culture shocks for me was the attitude Americans have about vacation days and the lack of paid time off available to workers.
America. The land of the free and home of the brave.
Where your rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is, except if your pursuit of happiness takes you away from your desk for a few days.
Because when it comes to paid time off, Americans are dealt a pretty unfair hand.
Two years ago, I packed all my belongings into a shipping container, waved goodbye to the English countryside, and moved across the pond to live amongst the bright lights and busy sidewalks of New York.
Born and raised in Birmingham, the UK's second city and one of the most multicultural places in Britain, I was moving to a country I'd already visited plenty of times before (what is it with the UK and family holidays to Orlando?). And with the ever-increasing spread of American culture - from TV and movies to politics - I thought I knew what I was getting myself in for.
Despite all my preparation, and even with a big old book about American customs the relocation company provided, I was woefully under-prepared for the various lifestyle adjustments and cultural differences between my old life in the UK and my new life in the States.
Because while we may speak the same language, that's where the similarities end. At least for me, anyway.
I've never felt more displaced than when I'm trying to navigate the healthcare system, on the hunt for a decent bar of chocolate, or realizing that Americans will talk to you absolutely anywhere. Stuck in an elevator for 33 floors? Get ready to make an agonizing amount of small talk. Sitting at a bar by yourself? You can bet your next drink that a fellow bar patron will ask how your day has been.