If you don’t follow me on Instagram (if not, why not? I’m a hoot!) then you will probably be completely unaware that I recently went “home” to England for the first time in two years.
The last time I was in the UK was in 2019. I had been living in Germany for just three months and those three months had been…difficult, to say the least! So I felt like I did not have enough experience living abroad to fully understand what I missed and what I didn’t.
But now I have over two years of experience in Germany, and with such a long period between visits home (cheers Covid 👍), I think I can finally reveal the truth.
💗 5 things I love about England 💗
So without further ado, here’s five things I love and miss about England.
1. GIANT SUPERMARKETS (AND THEIR OPENING HOURS)
Although they are not on the US Walmart scale, British superstores are incredible.
Need food? Clothes? Notebooks? Superstore.
Fancy picking up a Friday night Pizza but also need to fill your prescription? Superstore.
Need to print some photos for Nana’s birthday but also need new towels, plus some more antifreeze for the car? Superstore.
You get the idea. And here’s the thing, they’re relatively local to almost every town and certainly to every city.
Many Brits would likely moan if a trip to the local superstore was suggested. BUT NOT THIS GIRL. I’ve had to live with teeny tiny supermarkets that only sell food for two years. Give me everything under one roof now!
2. VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN FOOD IS WIDELY AVAILABLE
I miss Linda McCartney so much 😭
German supermarkets are slowly playing catch up with their availability of vegan and veggie food. Very, very slowly. There are, of course, specialist stores you can buy things from.
But in Britain, we have whole aisles dedicated to the stuff! Most vegan and vegetarian foodstuff were available in a commercial supermarket. No foraging down narrow back lanes for a biostore.
3. PAYING BY CARD EVERYWHERE
Imagine. A world with digitalisation that works 😍
I understand why Germans prefer cash. They are fiercely protective over their data security. Paying by card everywhere means leaving a digital footprint of your whereabouts every single day.
However, I’m a British millennial. And my data was sold off to the likes of Jeff Bezos before I could walk, probably. I’ve had a digital footprint since I was about 8 years old. Can I erase it now? Maybe, with a lot of knowledge and work. Can I be bothered? Nahhh. Let me pay by card!!!
4. THE INDIAN RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE
I’ve never been to India (although I’d love to go!) but I can’t imagine the experience of eating Indian food in India with actual Indian people resembles the British Curry House experience in ANY WAY.
Nevertheless, the British Indian restaurant experience is something special in its own right. It is where families get together, business deals are made, nights out start (and sometimes end, depending on how many poppadoms are consumed!) and one of the only places you can get food that is not a questionable looking kebab after 10 pm.
There’s no other restaurant experience like it. And I miss it. Also, we have proper Indian flavour and spices in Britain – you should try it sometime Germany 😜
5. THE DVLA
Yep. You read that correctly. My name is Steffi and I miss the DVLA.
If you’re not British, let me explain. The DVLA is the UK’s ‘Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’ – they’re the people you talk to when you want a driving license, to tax your car or to register your car. They pretty much look after everything to do with vehicles in the UK, except for insurance.
From the age of seventeen to twenty-six, I was constantly frustrated with the DVLA. They are extremely slow to respond to anything, their customer service is notoriously bad and the entire organisation is badly structured/organised.
HOWEVER, I now have the experience of registering a car in Germany. And with that experience came a huge shift in perspective. In Germany, you have to attend an appointment in person to register a car. Not only that, but you must book, attend and pay for every single minor change you make to your car in Germany. And the police will catch you if you don’t.
The way the DVLA operates and the freedom afforded to car owners in Britain makes it look like the wild west compared to Germany. So yes, I really, really miss it.
👎 5 things I don’t miss about England 👎
Love out the way, let’s move on to the things I really dislike about England.
1. RUDENESS & AN INFLATED SENSE OF SELF
I shout about this to anyone that will listen. Before I left for Germany, many people told me how rude the Germans were. How unfriendly they were. How cold they were.
As a citizen and resident in England, I always felt like we were a particularly rude and entitled nation. After moving abroad, I had it confirmed.
The English are rude. They are automatically defensive and ready to fight (I bet some of them are even getting their backs up at reading that sentence). They still think of themselves as a mighty Empire, despite being a lost and lonely island floating in between the North and Celtic Sea. They refuse to look in the mirror and reflect on how they can be better as a nation. And the rest of Europe kind of agrees with me.
I experienced more rudeness and self-entitlement within 24 hours of being back in England than I had experienced over at least six months in Germany.
Of course, this is a generalisation. Of course, #notallEnglishpeople. But enough. Too many, I’d argue. Certainly enough to make me reluctant on ever moving home right now.
2. SLOW ROADS (AND NARROW LANES. AND HEDGEROWS. AND POTHOLES)
It’s 125 miles from Heathrow T5 to my hometown. In years gone by, that journey has taken me 2.5 hours. Not in 2021.
Many of Britain’s motorways are being “upgraded” to “Smart Motorways” and if they aren’t, then roadworks of some sort are taking place. Or road closures. Or a small accident that happens at 9 am closes the entire motorway for at least four hours so the police can conduct investigations.
My boyfriend works 100 miles from our home in Germany. That journey usually takes him 1.5 hours and it’s rare that there’s an exception to that timing.
Furthermore, many of Britain’s roads are far too narrow to carry the size of modern cars. It’s almost impossible to drive down a straight road in a straight line because you will likely receive the gift of a tyre blowout. Add to that the unbelievably tall hedgerows that block any chance of seeing further than 400 metres in front of you and you start to get an image of what a standard British road looks like.
3. TURNING PLUGS ON/OFF.
I never realised how much of an unnecessary hassle this was. It caught me out a lot on our trip back to England. It just makes sense to me now that you put the plug into the plug socket when you want to use it and simply remove it when you’re done. Einfach, oder?!
Also, while we’re here – plugs in bathrooms just make sense. So does having your washing machine in the bathroom.
4. DIRTY STREETS
I remember the first time we arrived in Germany and I kept exclaiming about how clean it was. It’s still something I can’t get over.
The streets of England are a mess. Literally. Even in small towns. In villages. On the sides of rural B roads. They are awash with litter and dirt.
Fast-food chain wrappers line the banks of main roads, all the way from London to Hereford. Disposable coffee cups, plastic bags, cigarette butts and old gum are scattered through city centres like confetti.
And I know that cities like Berlin probably suffer from the same problem to some extent (I don’t know, I’ve never been). However, in England, it is quite literally everywhere.
5. TEENY TINY HOUSES THAT ARE BUILT CHEAP AND COST THE EARTH
I cannot believe I used to live in a house with a bathroom THAT small. With a staircase THAT creaky. And walls THAT thin 😲
The price of buying or renting a house in Britain astonished me before we even moved abroad. But now that I’ve seen what you can get for the same or, in some cases, less money, I’m totally speechless.
People are paying between 600 – 800 GBP for a two-bedroom flat or house in small towns with no real draw or industry. And that’s before Council Tax, Electricity, Gas, Water and any other luxuries you want like the Internet or insurance, or food.
We are paying close to 700 € per month for our flat. That includes our heating and water, a cellar room, two balconies, a pantry, loft space, an underground parking space, an outside parking space, a bike room, a laundry room and our very own Hausmeister who takes the bins out and keeps the place in tip-top condition. There is no council tax in Germany. And our electric bill maybe reaches €60 a month.
Yeah, I don’t miss English houses.
Do you agree with my choices? Let me know in the comments!