Things I Miss About Living in the United Kingdom (And Things I Don’t)
I’ve lived in Holland for 3 years from next spring and time flies. I’m British, so of course I was living in the United Kingdom. Over the past few years the things I miss and don’t miss have changed. Admittedly, to some people this list may be a bit random, but hopefully someone out there will feel the same. They aren’t not too conventional. No, I don’t miss tea – I don’t even like it (am I even British?), I’ve learnt to live without Cadbury’s, even if I do miss their advent calendars. I left home over 6 years ago and I moved to 3 completely different places within the same year, so I’m used to being away.
This doesn’t stop the feeling of belonging somewhere though. I do feel like a massive weight falls off my shoulders when I first touch down in the UK. Home is the place you know better than anywhere.
However, I wanted to make my site a bit more real. Everyone writes about what they miss and what they love about moving abroad. I’ve already covered what no one tells you about moving abroad, so it’s also time to say what I don’t miss too.
So, what are 5 things I miss about living in the United Kingdom and 5 things that I don’t miss?
Things I Don’t Miss About Living in the United Kingdom:
1. Living on an Island
Okay, so it’s not like people in the UK aren’t aware that they live on an island, but you really don’t think about it at all and once you move away, you really do realise how restricting it is to live on one. My mum was speaking to me about possibly moving to the Isle of Wight, but she was put off because it was on an island and it can be quite restricting when it comes to travel. I said ‘mum, you’re already on one?’ and she was like ‘oh yeah!’ It sounds weird, but you almost forget. Okay – so it’s a pretty big island, but it’s an island all the same.
Living in the United Kingdom…well it’s pretty small
The fact I can drive to Belgium in just over 30 mins and to Germany in under 2 hours is just amazing to me. I can pop to another country and it’s just so normal. If you want to go to a completely different country (that isn’t England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland), then you have to fly, catch a Eurostar or a ferry. You have to have a passport (we don’t have national ID cards) and you need to go through security. I’ve actually forgotten my passport a few times when popping to Germany because all countries feel like one – honestly. It’s freedom and it’s wonderful (not to mention I’m paid in a currency, that may be weaker, but is more widely used – result).
2. Public Transport
Public transport in the UK is absolutely shocking. The train prices are enough to bring on a heart attack on its own. If you want to go anywhere cheaply, you have to book months and months in advance, the trains go really slowly because the train lines are so old and delays are expected, especially in bad weather. You pay for the exact time and date that the train leaves and if you miss it, then you have to pay again.
We had a tiny bit of snow in the west country once and I got stranded for hours on an outside station, I then managed to fit on the train when it eventually arrived and it was so full I could hardly breathe. It was worse than the underground – and I had to endure that for 3 hours! Once my dad had to drive for 6 hours just to pick me up because the trains were cancelled due to rain (in the west country, I mean, really?), all for a ‘cheap’ cost of £100.
I’ve been spoilt living in the Netherlands – you can catch any train at any time for the same price. You can buy a 40% off discount on trains for a year for only €50 and in supermarkets you can buy unlimited day train cards for as low as €15. German and Belgian trains can be even cheaper.
I happened to move away only months before everything started kicking off in the UK. Ever since, we’ve been on the news almost consistently and to be honest, it’s pretty embarrassing. When you see the news from another country’s perspective and people are talking about it, it makes you realise how crazy this whole Brexit thing is. I’m not here to start preaching politics, but all I can say is that I’m SO glad I’m not in the UK right now with all of this. Period.
Living in the United Kingdom: Brexit, Brexit, Brexit, every damn day
4. The Currency
This may seem like another weird thing to mention, but the first thing I found hard to get my head around was getting used to a new currency. Getting paid in euros for the first time was especially weird. However, I soon got used to it and I love it now. Although the British currency is stronger than the euro, right now the currency is very turbulent, not only that but no matter where you go you have to worry about exchanging it. For this reason, I really love having a different currency and I don’t miss the £ at all.
I’m not saying the UK would be better off in euros, because there’s a reason why it’s stronger. However, on a personal level I prefer it as because I travel around so often, it’s so much less hassle. For a country as a whole, their own currency is pretty great though.
5. The Weather
So, anyone who is Dutch or lives in the Netherlands is probably going to be like ‘really?!’, but yes, it’s true – I think that Dutch weather is a godsend in comparison to British weather. I’m from the Southwest and it quite literally rains 24/7. I’ve rarely gone home and been able to go for a nice walk in the sunshine and this was the same for my first 21 years of my life. Yes, okay, so the UK got the best summer they’ve had in a while for ONE year, but so did the Netherlands too, so there’s not much to miss. You can almost guarantee that every year the Netherlands gets some snow in the winter and some really hot weeks in the summer. The Southwest just rains. Always.
Things I Miss About Living in the United Kingdom:
1. The Supermarkets
I miss British supermarkets SO much! They are so huge, there is so much in them and there are so many cheap options (think Tesco Everyday Value – my staple brand as a student). Although the British cuisine is not known to be amazing, I do miss the different varieties of food and other items that you can buy in the supermarket. In one way I’m torn though, as this is why there are barely any independent shops left. However, I do miss the ease that comes with shopping in the UK and all of the shops are open until really late (sometimes even 24 hours).
I worked in a supermarket for a couple of years when I was a student, so I’m surprised I miss them at all, being an old workplace and all. 😉
Okay, so us Brits are renowned for being queue mad and it’s part of our culture after all, but by god do I wish that it was an international culture and not just a British one. In general, things run smoothly in the UK. Things are fair, we always know what’s going on, we’re generally more patient for it. The worst thing as a Brit is dealing with a life without proper queues. Sometimes I get so mad that I actually say it out loud “why can’t people just f**king queue?!” “Why is everyone skipping in front and getting away with it?!” – everything just takes forever and it’s so chaotic.
Another thing I love is in many places (for example when you buy a drink), you queue, buy the item and then you can leave when you’re done. Over here, for example, you have to wait all the time for them to come over. So you’re trying to chase people down for the bill every 5 seconds.
Living in the United Kingdom: We queue like friggin’ pros
This is a just standard joke between me and everyone, about how much I miss British milk. I didn’t even like milk all that much before I left. It was just something that sat in the fridge and I’d occasionally have a bowl of cereal with it. But when I left I realised how much I missed it, because unlike other food and drink, I’ve not found a substitute. I even wrote it on a Facebook group to see if anyone knew where I could get any. I had no idea until I left properly that milk tastes any different anywhere else. I’ve never really noticed. It seems that other people don’t notice either, unless you’re a Brit and you move abroad.
The milk in the Netherlands is must runnier and tastes almost watered down (and yes I’ve tried them all). The British milk is creamy and fatty. When I went to Sicily I even tried to hunt milk down which tasted similar and I did. I was so happy I drank enough to make me ill. So yeah, I’m now a strange milk addict and I miss it everyday.
And don’t get me started about the bacon…
4. Nights Out
Most Brits love a good night out. In general, you can always find somewhere cheap to drink (Wetherspoons – jeez I miss that weird place). The nights out are always a big occasion and there is a variety of genres of music.
In the Netherlands, you’d be lucky to get in anywhere for under €10 and most clubs only take tokens, so drinks are so expensive. Sadly, there is nothing like Wetherspoons and the music is usually only dance music and R&B. As much as I love dance music, I do miss the variety of nights out you can have here. Not even just clubs, but a proper British pub!
5. Living close to everyone
I know I don’t live too far away, but I live far enough away that I can’t just pop back and see people. What makes it worse is I met people from all over the country when studying for both my honours and my masters degree, so I have friends literally in all corners of the country. It’s literally impossible to see everyone because of this. How can I see my parents, both sides of my family, my home friends, my uni friends, my festival friends and all of my other friends when time off is limited? You can’t see everyone, you can’t keep everyone happy and it’s a nightmare.
Christmas is the most difficult time, mainly because I miss the Christmas hype when living in the United Kingdom. The Netherlands focuses more on Sinterklaas and things like Christmas light switch-on’s aren’t really an event. I’m always super excited to go home and see everyone at Christmas for this reason.
Overall, I love both where I moved to and where I’m from in different ways and I imagine as even more years go by, I’ll be missing something different (or not in some cases). That’s all for now — as we say in Britain Tarrah or Cheerio!