Monday, May 27, 2013

#BRSMBlogParty: Best wishes for your time in the States!

BRSM of the excellent total synthesis blog BRSM Blog is graduating from his institution in the UK, and coming to the United States for a postdoc. Jess and Frida are arranging bloggers to give him advice; here is my (small and late) contribution:

What’s your message for BRSM?

Best wishes in your postdoc, and thanks for writing an excellent, excellent chemistry blog.

Any post-doc survival tips?

I am going to guess that you're far more skilled than I ever was as a graduate student, so I don't think I have much to offer. I will suggest that you take a lot of opportunities to both deepen your expertise and broaden your perspectives.

Also, time flies, so keep your eye on the job market!

Any survival tips for living in the US?

I hear that American women fall for British accents. Not being an American woman, I can't really tell you if that is true.

I would recommend getting a driver's license, getting a cheap, reliable car (a Honda Civic is a good call) and taking a few roadtrips. America (to a great extent, like the UK) is an incredibly diverse place, culturally and geographically. Pretty much any direction you drive, there will be something different that is worth seeing.

One more thing: if you're on one of those road trips and you stop at a roadside restaurant, do not order the "Trucker's Special", unless you wish to drown yourself in grease and sugar.*

What would you like to see on BRSM blog in the future?

Uh, more BRSM Blog goodness? You do such a good job of being yourself, why would I tell you to do otherwise?

Best wishes, dude.

*Unless, of course, that is something you like to do.


  1. The women falling for British accents thing is true. At least in Boston it is.

    1. Boston is part of New England after all (there, that's my lame joke for the day).

  2. Way too kind! Thanks for the advice, though. I really have no experience of the US.

  3. Welcome to the US! It's a huge, gorgeous country so do yourself a favor and see some of it while you're here. Driving on the "correct" side of the road will take some practice, though. :-) Our mass transit isn't nearly as good as that in Europe. I wish it was. However outside of rush hour in the cities, it's fun to drive. And, yes, avoid the trucker specials.

    The diversity in our country also applies to the food. Try and eat local everywhere you go. Craft beer is becoming a huge industry, so if you drink beer try the local brews. There are distinct differences in beers from different geographical regions of the country.

    The one problem my long-term foreign students struggle with is the US banking system. Do not allow yourself to overdraft because the back will charge you EACH TIME with every overdraft, not by the day like some European banks. And, often, newly arrived people will have to deposit the exact amount of money they want to have as credit because they haven't established credit yet.

    And be ready for US people to have absolutely no idea from where your accent originates. Also expect perplexed looks when you tell them where you're from. Or expect them to tell you about that one person they know in the UK.

  4. Back in the late 80s, we had a very reserved low key postdoc from England in our group - he was amazed at the number of women who approached him in bars, when he was just sitting there nursing a beer. They all said the same thing - they loved his accent and wanted to know where he was from, etc. etc. Before long, he had a girlfriend.

    [the only accent that appeared to be even more appealing was a Dutch one, as evidenced by a rather popular postdoc from the Netherlands in our group)

    I do remember the English postdoc telling me (quietly) that Americans are too Loud. Conversely, people in the lab were constantly asking the postdoc to Speak Up, we can't hear you.

    The English postdoc did enjoy traveling out to the Rocky Mountains and visiting several national parks, especially the lesser known ones. He really enjoyed being able to get away by himself, he told me, where no one could bother him (and ask him to speak up).


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20