Expat Life

Things You Might Not Find in England

When you are studying abroad in the UK you usually don’t have to worry about any of these as most are provided by the University.  However, if you’re coming to the UK to settle then you need to really think about the following: How are you going to keep warm?  Where the f*&% are all your clothes going to go?

Maybe these problems were just applicable to me.  And it’s obvious by now I’m a weather snob.

Do not get angry when you can’t find the following things:

Flat Sheets- from my experience very, very few people have flat sheets.  This has included, Sam, his family, all 5 of my former housemates, their families, hotels, B&Bs, etc.  Basically no one.  You can buy flat sheets in home stores but they are ridiculously over-priced.  If you want one, bring it from home!

Comforters- You will rarely find a comforter in the UK. Instead it’s all about the duvet.  This isn’t a very important swap as they are quintessentially the same thing. I did spend I significant amount of time looking for one before I gave up and bought a duvet instead.

Closets- Most houses and apartments in London will not have closets as we think of them in America.  Most will have wardrobes instead. (From Ikea.) If you are extremely lucky, you will have a coat closet somewhere.  Your clothes will learn to live in drawers instead.  Your shoes will learn to live under the bed.

(This is for two people to share? Somebody pinch me.)

Radiators that work- Maybe I’ve just had bad luck with housing, but even in homes with double glazing the radiators do not seem to adequately heat the space.  I’m a lady that is accustom to central heating.  It’s the thing I miss most about my home in America- warm air blowing out of vents. In one house it got so cold that our olive oil FROZE in the kitchen overnight. (This is not typical* I hope!).  Things to invest in: A space heater, lots of hot water bottles, extra blankets, lots of sweaters and socks.

Sam is always saying, “It’ll be fine after I bleed the radiators.” He does so and that tends to make it approximately 1 degree warmer.

Separate dryers- I remember the good ‘ole days where my clothes would come out of the dryer fluffy, warm and soft.  Most people in the UK don’t own a dryer. Washing machines usually have a drying function but that doesn’t actually get your clothes dry.  Plus it takes about 5 hours and takes loads of electricity. So everyone hangs their clothes out to dry on drying racks instead.  Which is very nice and environmentally friendly but that also means in the middle of the cold, cold winter it may take 2 days for thick clothing like jeans to dry.  And fluffy towels? Forget about them. Learn to embrace feeling like you’re getting a full-body exfoliation whenever you dry yourself off.

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