So I've lived as an American in the UK for a little over *gulp* three years now. Of all of the countries I've lived in, the US and the UK seem to have this crazy mutual obsession with one another.
Let me explain. There are perhaps multiple people of the American variety on my Facebook feed who exalt the virtues of the UK to an almost fetishized place. They love British food, British celebrities and the British way of life. British men are extra dreamy and they are convinced that life in Britain is far better than that of the US.
Similarly, when I tell people here in the UK where I'm from, the question is always, "Why would you come to the UK?" They then proceed to excitedly tell me about their trip to Orlando, their favorite American TV show or the best American dish they've had. Sometimes they ask questions about life in the US, which is usually highly romanticized by TV and films.
Aside from that, it is incredibly trendy in liberal politics to look to Europe as a beacon of socialist and liberal hope. Apparently, Europe is the promised land, full of leftists and free thinkers--and they've got socialized medicine, maternity leave, the army, etc. totally covered. And if America just took a page from their book, then we could solve all of America's woes.
So I've decided to compare the two countries with several categories to see just how they stack up.
WARNING: This is just my opinion. I know there will be people here who will say that I'm incorrect or that their experience trumps mine. However, this is just what I know of the three and a half years on this little island.
Yes, to an American person, the British accent sounds dreamy and melodic. That is, if you're talking about Sloanies or people from Kent (gross generalization). However, what Americans fail to realize is that there are a myriad of accents, and not all of them so pleasant or easy to understand. And once you've lived here for a few years, its really not all that dreamy, exotic or sexy.
The Winner: Neither
Eschewing London, there really isn't much food diversity in the UK--or at least as much as there is in the US. It depends largely on where you live, I think. When I lived in Leicester, because of the large Indian population, I was spoiled for choice for a good curry. But aside from that, there really isn't much choice aside from chain Italian, kebabs, pub food and the occasional Indian and Chinese. And maybe a Yo! Sushi. Living in London is very different, I'll emphasize, because you can find almost anything your heart desires there. Except Mexican food. You just can't find good Mexican food.
In the US, you've got pretty much everything at your fingertips, thanks to our immigrant culture which the UK is just starting to benefit from. Even in smaller towns, you've still got a wide variety of cuisines. And in most places (except the northeast), you have genuinely good Mexican food.
I get that there's this trendy thing to say that American food is, like, the worst for you on the planet and other country's food is somehow superior. The UK has plenty of junk, and plenty of really fat people. Maybe not to the degree some places in the US do, but they're there. And it's easy to put on weight fast here, regardless.
The Winner: The United States
The UK pretty much has one season that varies slightly by being a few degrees colder in the winter and a few degrees warmer in the summer. They'll be about three days per year that are bitterly cold, and a further 3-7 that are so hot you'll think your whole body is melting. This is mostly due to the fact that the country is ill-prepared for weather extremes, so when they hit, they are genuinely the most miserable days of the year.
For the US, it depends on where you live and what kind of weather you prefer. Though, you do have a summer in the US no matter what. People in the UK keep going on about how they "like summer" and "hot weather" and I'm just like, "When the hell do you even have that?"
The Winner: That comes down to personal preference
Everyone has an opinion on this one, and people get pretty heated. However, I've yet to really get into a British series (aside from that one dark time I got sucked into a season of Celebrity Big Brother). But that doesn't mean they don't have excellent documentaries, which they show on "basic" channels here. Think TLC on steroids. Then, if you have Sky, you also get TLC. So win, win. Plus, they can get away with a lot more taboo topics, language and exposing of skin here.
However, the series I tend to watch all of the time are almost exclusively American. Most British people seem to be addicted to at least one American show as well.
The Winner: Tie
From my experience, there are awesome people and deplorable garbage humans everywhere. Racists and idiots abound in both countries and are free to spout out their nonsense. But, there are generous and caring people who exist in both places as well.
The Winner: Tie
This one seems to be a no-brainer to Americans. Even to Americans who have lived abroad in the UK. They'll say stuff like, "Oh gosh, the NHS is amazing. I had a cold, I went to the doctor and I got a prescription, paid £7 for it and was on my way."
In that regard, yes, the NHS is amazing. But try dealing with the NHS when you've got a chronic, painful condition. Waiting lists are off the chart and older people are often fobbed off because they don't want to spend the money. I had to pay for private care for my endometriosis because of the debilitating pain, as I was facing a 4 month waiting list just to be assessed.
I also don't think the care you receive in the hospitals is always that great, which I know is like a sacrilege to say, considering the "at least its free" bit Americans will answer with.
Yes it may be free, but you're also free to sit in pain for months and months whilst you wait for an appointment.
The Winner: UK for access to healthcare (everyone gets it in some form), the US for the quality of care. The care I've received in the US is definitely superior, but it's totally inaccessible to many.
Hands down, the UK is better at supporting its people when they have a kid or have fallen on hard times. The US just doesn't have the same government programs. Additionally, in the UK, you get a lot more time off work, shorter work weeks and you get a generous maternity leave. There is also great care for Holocaust survivors, which is my big area.
The Winner: UK
I would say that overall, there are pluses and minuses to each country. The two are so similar in nature because of our allied past and common language that there isn't a huge cultural barrier. Are there things I miss about the US? Yes. Are there things I would miss if I moved back to the US? Absolutely.
So, I say to both of the countries I love: there is no real winner. I love you both.