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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Differences -Money, roads & public transport

Some people perceive the UK and USA to be alike with very few differences. In fact prior to living here I didnt realise the amount of differences. Each day is a learning curve. I am embracing the differences.

As I have readers in the USA and in the UK I am going to put information where I can about things from both sides. I am not an expert, this is just how I have perceived something either here or in the UK so correct me if I am wrong. I am open to learning.

Money. Here in USA the money is dollars and cents. There are 100 cents to each dollar. There are 1 cent coins, 5 cent coins (known as a a nickel), 10 cent coin (know as a dime) and a 25 cent coin (known as a quarter). Next there are notes, these are one dollar, 5 dollar, 10 dollar, 20 dollar, 50 dollar and a 100 dollar. They are known as bills and are all very similar in colour so you have to be extra careful when paying in a store.

In the UK its pounds and pence. I am typing on a USA keyboard and there is not a pound sign so I cant put one, the coins in the UK are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, 1 pound and 2 pound. Then notes there are 5 pound, 10 pound, 20 pound and 50 pound though it is rate to find 50 pound notes! There is 100 pence to a pound so in that respect it is easy to work things out. Each of the notes are a different colour and differ in size slightly.

There is approximately 1 dollar and 60 cents to the pound. Yes, I still in my mind am converting back into pounds despite the fact the money is being paid in dollars. Force of habit I am guessing from all the years of shopping whilst on holiday out here and doing a conversion before paying.

In fact there is another difference right there. In the UK if you go away we call it a holiday, here it is a vacation. They go on a two week vacation whilst we take a fortnight holiday. Holiday is mainly used here to refer to a specific date they celebrate such as Thanksgiving or Christmas (I am really excited to experience my first Thanksgiving next week)!

Driving is a completely different experience, whilst I have yet to drive (though its looking to start happening soon) I can see the differences already. The biggest difference which is obvious straight away is that the UK drive on a different side to the USA, other than Australia and New Zealand I cannot think offhand of any other countries which drive on the same side of the road as the UK. In the UK the driving controls and steering are on the right, here its the left.

In the UK there are mainly single lane roads in the towns and cities with some major roads being dual carriageways (two lanes each side) and then there are motorways. There are different classes of road firstly there are some roads which just have names (and are not numbered), D roads and C roads which are local roads which are generally still known as just the name except for by local authorities, B roads are local routes to and fromone place to another place. Generally single carriage and often down country lanes, an example of how this would be numbered is B285.

Most roads to travel between one place and another in the UK are A roads such as A24. Some are single carriageways, some are dual carriageways. Others have been improved to the standard of a motorway and therefore may have 4 or more carriageways. These roads are number in the following format A1(M). The A signifies that the road is a major road, the M signifies that it has been improved to motorway standards but is not a motorway. The number is the road number.

Motorways generally take you from one town or city to another (eg London to Manchester) with limited access to the towns. IE maybe 3 exits to a town rather than travelling directly through the town or city. I have not quite worked out how they worked out the numbering generally with roads. However, any motorways with just a single number after the M leads from London. EG M3 leads from London to Portsmouth.

As I havent actually experienced driving here in the USA I can only comment on my observations together with some research I have carried out! First off most of the roads within the cities and suburbs are at least two or three lanes wide each side though some of the residential roads only have one lane each way.

There are different types of highways, Interstate highways which have the highest speeds, US numbered highways and state highways. Many of the state highways on which we have travelled on are a single lane in each direction so I am assuming this is the equivalent of the B roads and some A roads in the UK. The US highways are still much bigger than the UK A roads but the A roads would be the closest equivalent. The closest comparable to the Interstate in the UK is a motorway. Even numbered roads go from East to West/West to East whilst odd numbered roads go from North to South/ South to North.

In the UK there are roundabouts (sometimes known in the USA on the satellite navigation/TomTom/GPS as a Rotarty) everywhere. Some are enormous and have numerous exits. Here in the USA there are very few (I have seen a couple in the BirdRock/La Jolla area and one in Borrego Springs) instead there are stop junctions. Say there are four roads leading to one junction all directions have to stop. Whoever arrived first goes first, second goes second etc. 

At traffic lights/signals in the USA you can turn right on a red signal after yielding/giving way to any pedestrians or other traffic which is in the junction. In the UK you cant turn left on red or in any other direction.

In the UK there is no set structure to how roads are laid out, there are windy roads all over the place and as such it is easy to get lost. In the USA in most areas the roads are laid out in a grid section.
Speed limits are different also. I the UK its 20 around the school zones, its 25 here. Then the normal speed limit is 35 around business districts and residential areas (unless otherwise posted) in the USA whilst in the UK its 30. Some freeways there are speedlimits of 55 though on interstates it is 70. In the UK on a road with a single lane each side you have a 60 limit and then 70 on dual carriageways and motorways.

In some cities (San Diego included) unless you live in one of the downtown areas(which we dont) you need a car. The public transport is very different to the UK. Whilst in the UK the public transport is often extremely busy and seems expensive you can travel almost anywhere by bus or train. In fact from our old apartment to my parents home which was 60 miles away I could get there in an hour and a half. On Tuesday I am taking public transportation to meet a friend in an area of downtown, a distance of 18 miles it will take me the same time and I will also need to change buses. Some cities have more public transportation that others.

There are many more differences and entries will follow. However, they will be alternated with what has been going on this end otherwise I will find myself getting extremely behind.

1 comment:

  1. I had to google the term rotary (never even heard of it), so I think that's just maybe the official term here? Apparently in the U.S. they're also called traffic circles, but Eben and I have always called them roundabouts. I've never heard anyone call them a traffic circle either... maybe because we have so few. lol