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A British person's first impressions of Chicago

Totally gets: Harold's Chicken, the Cubs. Totally does not get: Half & Half.

Harold's Chicken Shack
Hi everyone, I’m Jessie. I’m a student from London briefly stopping in Chicago for a week… You guessed it! I’m yet another person from across the pond about to tell you what I think about all Americans after spending five days in Chicago. 

Ok, so just to get the stereotypes out of the way, your food is insane. Everyone in England says you love junk food and all your portion sizes are massive, but you do! And they are! You have pizza the size of my entire body, starters (which I think you call appetizers) which are bigger than English main courses (which you call entrees, which is incredibly confusing for me) and your baked beans come in a sugar sauce. All of this I had been told to expect, but I have to say everything was even bigger than I had imagined. The craziest thing for me, though, is Half & Half. Half & Half blew my mind. Yes, it is delicious, but you guys drink a mixture of half milk, half CREAM as if it’s a totally normal thing to do. Even Americans who are completely diet aware and love goats cheese salads with roasted walnuts still drink Half & Half. At my friend’s parent’s house, the fridge contained a health choice of almond milk, goat’s milk, and Half & Half. What?

There are, though, many things that the English have definitely got wrong about you. For instance, you actually care about football. (Even though you call it soccer, but that can be forgiven). I have to give it to you, I thought no American even knew what real football was, and turns out you’re pretty passionate about how your team does. And you’re still in the World Cup and we’re not. Go figure. You do have to brush up a bit on your crowd etiquette though. “I believe that we will win” is not legit. It sounds like the beginning of an inspirational Obama speech, not a football chant. For future reference, try taking a leaf out of Arsenal’s book with this anti Tottenham chant: “What do we think of Tottenham? Shit! What do we think of shit? Tottenham! Thank you! You’re welcome! We hate Tottenham! We hate Tottenham!” Basically just lower your tone somewhat and swear a little bit. You’ll get there.

So now to get down to what I actually thought of Chicago, I have summed up my week here with a top three of my favourite things about Chicago. 

Number Three. Harold’s Chicken Shack Fish & Pizza, Hyde Park. I guess this is quite obvious, because it’s indisputably delicious. It also has the best name I’ve ever heard, fried catfish on the menu, and no pizza to be found. Suffice to say that my Harold’s Chicken day was a great day. 

Number Two. The people. No one tells you in England that Americans (or at least Chicagoans) are incredibly nice. Just really, really lovely. I’ve got lost here a bunch of times, and I’ve also played the classic tourist running around with a camera and taking photos of people on the street, and every person I’ve talked to has taken the time to help me, and been genuinely friendly in doing so. If you smile at someone on the street in London, odds are they’ll think there’s something wrong with you. In Chicago, there are people wishing you a good day all over the shop. There have been a few times when my sarcasm and/or self depreciation has clashed with this friendliness, and I’ve seen looks of pity on other people’s faces when my jokes have been misinterpreted as genuine sadness. That’s okay though, English people are miserable bastards. What are you gonna do?

Number One. Seeing the Chicago Cubs. Firstly, turns out baseball is really fun to watch, especially when a batter gets stuck running between first and second base and the basemen are throwing the ball back and forth. But really, the reason I loved seeing the Cubs so much, and the reason this is one hundred percent definitely number one on my list isn’t because of the game. The best thing about the baseball match was Take Me Out to the Ball Game. I would say that the seventh inning stretch at the Chicago Cubs stadium is up there in the top five best three minutes of my entire life. I have no words, I just think it’s the best thing ever. 

So there you have it, that’s my quick summary of my impressions of a city and its people after five days. 

Oh, and your rain totally beats English rain. Hands down.


Roy H

Chicago Cubs stadium?

Erica F

Thank God she didn't go to Englewood. The story would have been about her.

shawn M

Lmao this is the sad truth.

Tinika S

I laughed really hard on a few parts. Good read.

Terrence I

Oh you wacky Brits and your random u's in every other word. Good people though.


Yesssss I drink a gallon of half and half a day... 

Wait... what?

Mel B

Gosh, cringing...poor kid, this commentary is really provincial. The editors should have told her.

Kristen W

So, I've been to the UK several times, and when my boyfriend at the time ordered his own starter I was so confused. The difference is that starters in the U.S. are meant to be shared, that's why they're so huge haha. Also, no one drinks half & half by itself as already stated. It's for coffee or baking/cooking :p Can't believe the editor of this piece didn't mention that to you.


@Kristen W LoL most people I know drink  half and half alone but I get the starter/appetizer


Roy H

@cela73 Wait, what?!?!? You actually know people that DRINK half-n-half straight? That is insanity.

Stasher D

Yeah, we use half and half in our coffee... or in our ice cream makers if you own one.

albert j


Frank S

Yes and we call "torches" flashlights, "lifts" elevators, "maize" corn & a "thousand billion" a trillion! Yes things are just crazy different here and yes we can be sarcastic too! :)

However I haven't known anyone to drink "Half & Half other than in coffee or tea! That's just wrong!!!

Doug P

Did anyone tell this poor girl we put half and half in our coffee and don't drink it?

Robert Z

@Doug P I thought the same exact thing while reading the article