After over a year living in America, you’d think that I would have discovered all the differences there are in daily life. but it’s really strange how things keep cropping up.
In the UK we use A4 paper, and here in the States we use “letter” paper. I knew this from a long time ago, just one of those things that means that my UK papers will not fit in US folders correctly, and that all my 4 hole punch A4 folders are quite useless when confronted with US paper with 3 holes punched in them. No problem, I know all that, and have moved on.
Being the sort of person I am, most of my communication is via email or other electronic forms. but even so I do sometimes need to send an actual letter, and here came something that I only just found out – in the US you fold a letter into 3 to fit into the envelope.
Now I’m sure all my American friends are thinking – yea, obviously, how else would you do it? Whereas all the UK people are thinking – what, why would you do that?
Back the other side of the Atlantic we would fold our letter in half, then half again, and then it fits neatly into the envelope. So folding it in thirds seems both odd, and difficult to do correctly, our way is must simpler. Of course, once you’ve done it a few times, it’s easy, but what amazes me is that there should be a difference, and that it’s totally accepted as “the way it is” in each culture.
When did this “folding” thing start anyway? Maybe it’s relatively new, so we each started our own practice. And, what do other cultures do – is there a country where people fold letters diagonally, thinking that this is the only way that it can be done? OK, maybe I’m over-thinking this, but it’s just another example of quirky differences that mean nothing in themselves, but add up to an enormous culture shock.