More mostly uninteresting differences in being here.
It’s weird watching the NFL in London. They show the US feeds (e.g. from Fox) but not completely – since they show on British affiliates (usually Sky Sports) the pregame / halftime is done with the Sky Sports crew. Additionally, they don’t show as many commercials here (SN – BBC doesn’t show any commercials at all, which is awesome. However, if you own a TV here, you are required to pay for a TV license, and I’m assuming at least part of that goes towards the funding of the BBC, so it’s a little less awesome), so during some commercial breaks, they go back to that crew in studio. Feels really weird. And I’m not sure how the feeds work, but for some reason they don’t include the game breaks here (when they cutaway to highlights from another game). So you’ll hear Joe Buck say, let’s go to Curt Menafee for an update on the Patriots game, but there’s no cutaway, you see the same game, except with British voice awkwardly giving random updates.
I also have no idea who they’re using for the studio segments, but they suck. The expert this year chose Buffalo as being his dark horse Super Bowl candidate. Uh.
Not sure if you know this if you’re not a parent, but in the US, we don’t open presents at birthday parties anymore. Honestly, I don’t know the rationale. To prevent comparisons? Takes too much time? No clue. But that’s a big change from my childhood – I fondly remember happily opening my haul at Chuck E Cheese. Anyway, it’s the same here, but they also do other weird things – like you don’t eat birthday cake at the party – instead, each kid gets a piece to take home at the end. What?? And birthday cake is a really awkward thing to take home. We just ignored that for the party we had with Joshua last week. Mostly because we didn’t know. But I’m not afraid to pull the ignorant American card, even when I’m just being rude, not clueless.
Speaking of which, being here has really solidified to me my identity. You know, Asian-Americans growing up don’t feel totally American nor fully Asian. So being in a non-American or Asian context, I was curious where I’d find my natural identity. And it’s totally American, that’s completely how I think of myself here. Interestingly (probably only to me), Jieun has felt the same way here. Even though she’s way more Asian than me and far more attuned to her Asian side, she thinks of herself here primarily as American. That surprised me a little.
One other thing that’s different here – there’s not as much a culture of personal investing. We went to the park with the family of one of Abby’s classmates and had an interesting conversation. He works for a hedge fund, but he said that here, most people don’t know what that means, and he frequently has to explain it, even to highly educated people. The culture here is still dominated by pensions, and I think it’s a strong welfare society, so there’s not an emphasis on personal responsibility for retirement. I think most people are clueless about it. I’ve been asking around to try to figure out how to invest here, for example trying to find out what the UK equivalent of short-term municipal bonds are, and most people simply don’t know. Or care.