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American shares observations on England: 'I wish foreign travel were required'

When visiting a foreign country, some Americans may be surprised to learn just how differently life works outside the U.S. Some call this “culture shock,” but what about “culture refreshment”?

That appears to be the case for Scott Waters, a 66-year-old newly retired artist living in St. Augustine, Florida, who went on a recent trip to Cornwall, England.

Once back in the States, Waters reflected on his time abroad, and posted a list on Facebook detailing his observations of the foreign land.

"I wish foreign travel were required by law,” Waters, who calls himself a "military brat," told TODAY. “Growing up I learned that everyone and every place has something to share and teach.”

In his 100-item list, Waters highlights dozens of England’s qualities, among them: “Dogs are very well-behaved and welcome everywhere,” and “cars don’t have bumper stickers.”

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Most of Water’s statements are light and quirky — and it's not all rosy, either ("Avoid British wine," he recommends, and the "newspapers can be awful"). But there’s one proclamation that is presented with extra emphasis.

Early in his list, Waters points out that in England, “There are no guns.” He repeats these exact words two more times throughout his list, and then again toward the end, stating: “There are still no guns.”

Waters said that humor was the main intent of his list in a reply to one Facebook comment. But the post was published just a week before the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

Since it went up, the list has raked in more than 143,000 likes and more than 77,000 shares. A lot of the attention has revolved around the “no guns” bit.

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“Luv this, particularly, NO GUNS!!” said one Facebook user in her share of the post.

Waters, whose Facebook page is filled with links to news stories and memes urging for stricter gun policies, says he has received negative backlash for his “no guns” repetition.

The post triggered “an interesting exchange [in the comments section] about knives versus guns,” Waters told TODAY. “I deleted a couple of name callers and obvious trolls. One guy called me a 'pussy' and said that if I like the U.K. so much I should move there.”

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Waters said that in addition to England, he has traveled to Japan, Ireland, France and Italy. He thinks that foreign travel, particularly to a place like the U.K., could greatly benefit Americans in their own perspective on gun culture.

"In Britain, guns are not part of the culture. There is no NRA. There is no one arguing for guns," said Waters. "Someone in Britain [told me] there are only seven guns in England — and one of them is a dud."

Courtesy of Scott Waters
Scott Waters describes himself as a 'military brat'

But he is quick to point out that he doesn’t think that England is “better or smarter” than America, but feels that it has had “thousands of years to screw up, and they seem to eventually learn.”

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Read Waters' full list:

I was in England again a few weeks ago, mostly in small towns, but here's some of what I noticed:

  • Almost everyone is very polite
  • The food is generally outstanding
  • There are no guns
  • There are too many narrow stairs
  • Everything is just a little bit different
  • The pubs close too early
  • The reason they drive on the left is because all their cars are built backwards
  • Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms.
  • You'd better like peas, potatoes and sausage
  • Refrigerators and washing machines are very small
  • Everything is generally older, smaller and shorter
  • People don't seem to be afraid of their neighbors or the government
  • Their paper money makes sense, the coins don't
  • Everyone has a washing machine but driers are rare
  • Hot and cold water faucets. Remember them?
  • Pants are called "trousers", underwear are "pants" and sweaters are "jumpers"
  • The bathroom light is a string hanging from the ceiling
  • "Fanny" is a naughty word, as is "shag"
  • All the signs are well designed with beautiful typography and written in full sentences with proper grammar.
  • There's no dress code
  • Doors close by themselves, but they don't always open
  • They eat with their forks upside down
  • The English are as crazy about their gardens as Americans are about cars
  • They don't seem to use facecloths or napkins or maybe they’re just less messy than we are
  • The wall outlets all have switches, some don't do anything
  • There are hardly any cops or police cars
  • 5,000 year ago, someone arranged a lot of rocks all over, but no one is sure why
  • When you do see police they seem to be in male & female pairs and often smiling
  • Black people are just people: they didn't quite do slavery here
  • Everything comes with chips, which are French Fries. You put vinegar on them
  • Cookies are "biscuits" and potato chips are "crisps"
  • HP sauce is better then catsup
  • Obama is considered a hero, Bush is considered an idiot.
  • After fish and chips, curry is the most popular food
  • The water controls in showers need detailed instructions
  • They will boil anything
  • Folks don't always lock their bikes
  • It's not unusual to see people dressed different and speaking different languages
  • Your electronic devices will work fine with just a plug adapter
  • Nearly everyone is better educated then we are
  • If someone buys you a drink you must do the same
  • There are no guns
  • Look right, walk left. Again; look right, walk left. You're welcome.
  • Avoid British wine and French beer
  • It's not that hard to eat with the fork in your left hand with a little practice. If you don't, everyone knows you're an American
  • Many of the roads are the size of our sidewalks
  • There's no AC
  • Instead of turning the heat up, you put on a jumper
  • Gas is "petrol", it costs about $6 a gallon and is sold by the liter
  • If you speed on a motorway, you get a ticket. Period. Always
  • You don't have to tip, really!
  • Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall really are different countries
  • Only 14% of Americans have a passport, almost everyone in the UK does
  • You pay the price marked on products because the taxes (VAT) are built in
  • Walking is the national pastime
  • Their TV looks and sounds much better then ours
  • They took the street signs down during WWII, but haven't put them all back up yet
  • Everyone enjoys a good joke
  • There are no guns
  • Dogs are very well behaved and welcome everywhere
  • There are no window screens
  • You can get on a bus and end up in Paris
  • Everyone knows more about our history then we do
  • Radio is still a big deal. The BBC is quite good
  • The newspapers can be awful
  • Everything costs the same but our money is worth less so you have to add 50% to the price to figure what you're paying
  • Beer comes in large, completely filled, actual pint glasses and the closer the brewery the better the beer
  • Butter and eggs aren't refrigerated
  • The beer isn't warm, each style is served at the proper temperature
  • Cider (alcoholic) is quite good.
  • Excess cider consumption can be very painful.
  • The universal greeting is "Cheers" (pronounced "cheeahz" unless you are from Cornwall, in which case it's "chairz")
  • The money is easy to understand: 1-2-5-10-20-50 pence, £1-£2 coins and £5-£10, etc bills. There are no quarters.
  • Their cash makes ours look like Monopoly money
  • Cars don't have bumper stickers
  • Many doorknobs, buildings and tools are older than America
  • By law, there are no crappy, old cars
  • When the sign says something was built in 456, they didn't lose the "1"
  • Cake is is pudding, ice cream is pudding, anything served for desert is pudding, even pudding
  • BBC 4 is NPR
  • Everything closes by 1800 (6pm)
  • Very few people smoke, those who do often roll their own
  • You're defined by your accent
  • No one in Cornwall knows what the hell a Cornish Game Hen is
  • Football is a religion, religion is a sport
  • Europeans dress better then the British, we dress worse
  • The trains work: a three minute delay is regrettable
  • Drinks don't come with ice
  • There are far fewer fat English people
  • There are a lot of healthy old folks around participating in life instead of hiding at home watching tv
  • If you're over 60, you get free tv and bus and rail passes.
  • They don't use Bose anything anywhere
  • Displaying your political or religious affiliation is considered very bad taste
  • Every pub seems to have a pet drunk
  • Their healthcare works, but they still bitch about it
  • Cake is one of the major food groups
  • Their coffee is mediocre but the tea is wonderful
  • There are still no guns
  • Towel warmers!
  • Cheers
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