By Martin Gleeson
When Irish people visit the USA, they find that there are many differences between the American way of life and what is the norm back in Ireland. These are 12 examples.
1. When shopping in a supermarket, the prices on the tags do not include the local sales tax. This varies from state to state and can be as high as the Californian rate which is 7.25%.
2. In emergencies in Ireland, we expect the ambulance service to be free. American people must pay for any ambulance service that they use when they call 911. An ambulance transfer costs above $1,000 and can be as high as $2,000 if first aid is applied by the paramedics.
3. In Ireland, a doctor’s prescription is needed to obtain pharmaceutical drugs. Self-medicating is not allowed. In the USA these same drugs are widely advertised on TV and billboards and they can be sold directly to customers.
4. The Irish love butter on their bread. Americans use peanut butter instead of dairy butter. A very popular American sandwich is peanut butter and jelly. The American word for jam is jelly.
5. Photo IDs are required by anyone buying alcoholic drinks. In some stores there are signs saying: “Be twenty-one or be gone.”
6. Most homes in the US have air conditioning. They also enjoy it at work, in their cars and in the stores. In the summer months, the widespread use of air conditioners causes huge demand on the electricity service.
7. In Ireland, we buy eggs straight from the shelves in supermarkets and shops. All eggs sold in American stores must be stored in refrigerators.
8. Unlike our Euro banknotes, the seven denominations of dollar bills ($1 up to $100) are all the same size and their dull colours make them look almost alike. Irish visitors must be careful to examine each dollar note.
9. In Ireland, our national flag, the tricolour, is flown at military posts and from some state buildings. Americans love flying their national flag, the Stars and Stripes. The flag is flown in public places and outside peoples’ homes. More than half of Americans possess a US flag.
10. The American drugstores sell more than pharmaceutical products. There is a pharmacy section but in the rest of the store Irish visitors may be amazed to find detergent, nappies (called diapers), milk, cereal, sweets (called candy), fizzy drinks (called soda) and even cigarettes on the shelves.
11. In Ireland, when we use numbers to indicate a date, we put the day before the month, e.g., to indicate the seventeenth of March, we write 17/3. Americans put the month before the day so that the seventeenth of March is written as 3/17.
12. Ireland went metric since 2005 and our speed limits are in km/h. American speed limits are in miles per pour, and they still measure length in inches, feet, yards, and miles.