The BBC’s America, in partnership with Virgin Atlantic, has launched a guide for Brits navigating their way through life in the United States called ‘Mind the Gap‘.
In the tech sector it is not surprising to hear friends and contacts are headed for the US to work. Either permanently or taking a short work visa, many startups and technologists spend some time on the West Coast soaking up the scene or head to other tech hubs around America.
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You might wonder why this is necessary as the UK is so heavily influenced by American culture and tech already. UK citizens consume a lot of American TV, collect phrases and US slang terms, pick up clothing trends and although there are differences, the British are not a challenging distance culturally from their American cousins.
But there are still things that can be very handy when transferring your life to the States. How do you ship your possessions? How do you get a US driver’s licence? Obtaining a social security card, finding a place to live can also be tricky. These can be massive stress points in any change of location and this site helps to deal with these things along with a few more amusing points about making the leap over the pond.
One point of criticism for the site is the the London-centric title and tone. You can see in the page above that the design uses the London Underground and transport roundels in its iconography. The name “Mind the Gap” refers to the recorded polite warning that first appeared on London’s Northern Line to remind them to watch their step.
Frankly that’s a lot of Britain to leave out of the equation for a play on words between the gap in cultures. Though the roundels are more commonly found in London, the stock phrase has also spread to other metro systems around the world.
Content on the site is to be updated twice a week by a selection of British ex-pat personalities, including RadioTimes writer Ruth Margolis, Los Angeles Times contributor James Bartlett, and London Sunday Times financial columnist William Kay.
The site works alongside BBC America’s existing blog, ‘Anglophenia‘ which carries updates about British culture, entertainment and gossip. Anglophenia has built a strong and engaged following obsessed with the cultural differences and similarities between America and the UK.
Mind the Gap has some very clear guidelines about laws and emigration, paperwork and risks involved in moving to the US as well as navigating cultural differences. Nick Ascheim, SVP Digital BBC Worldwide Americas says,
“We’ll provide an entertaining and informative steer for Brits looking for answers to questions on topics from how to get a driver’s license to how to blend in at Thanksgiving dinner, and even tackle more complicated Americana like the Kardashians and shouty cable news anchors.”
As you can tell, there will be some tongue-in-cheek observations to come. This might not be a site for those who spend their time skipping back and forth over the Atlantic, but for first-timers and startups headed to the Valley, it does provide the basics of making emigration to the States a lot less confusing.