Do you prefer a coffee break or a tea break? Are you getting off the lift at the ground floor, or are you going to get off the elevator on the first floor? Travelers to English-speaking countries have to adjust to differences between British and American English. There are also cultural traditions to understand, ways of life which differ between London and New York, Auckland and Toronto, and Sydney and San Francisco. Learning these differences is fun, and, when you travel to different English-speaking countries, it's very useful.
So, what is a coffee or a tea break? Americans and Canadians prefer coffee drinking to tea drinking. Tea lovers need not worry, though; millions of North Americans drink tea and only tea every day. Though teahouses are rare there, every supermarket has a wide variety of Far Eastern, South Asian, and herbal teas to choose from. Still, coffee is the preferred drink in the Americas; after all, South America is one of the world's greatest coffee-producing areas. One social custom in the U.S. and Canada is the mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee break. This is very informal; it may be spontaneous (Hey! Let's break for coffee) or institutionalized (The coffee break in our office is from 3:30-3:50 daily). Coffee (or tea) may be drunk only, or, more likely, a selection of baked goods such as doughnuts, cookies, slices of cake, or crackers will be available, too. These breaks are not only for eating and drinking but also for chatting.
In Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia, people prefer a spot of tea during their tea break in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, and later on at home, they have high tea in the early evening. High tea consists of a light, cold meal or baked goods, followed by a more substantial meal later in the evening. Tea breaks may be formal in homes, with a silver tray filled with tea cups on saucers, a silver bowl with sugar, and a silver pitcher with cream brought into a living room, dining room, or drawing room. Baked goods are also served at tea breaks. In both the U.K. and the U.S. as well as in other English-speaking countries, most people eat three full meals daily, but stopping for coffee or tea breaks has also become customary.
Another useful difference to understand between the British and American ways of life concerns traffic, which is of the utmost importance to travelers or visitors. In London, one takes the underground, whereas in New York it's the subway (whether or not traveling below the ground). Streetcars are taken in American cities, but trams are found in Britain. Make sure you fill up with gas at the gas station in Miami, but in Manchester you should top up the tank with petrol at the petrol station. Not sure whether you need oil? Check under the bonnet in Bristol but the hood in Houston. Check your wing mirror in Wales but your side mirror in Rochester. And watch out for those traffic circles in Tampa but those roundabouts in Reading.
It should not surprise anyone that British and American English are a little different grammatically (Americans say, "I don't have" and "I have a lot" but the British say "I haven't" and "I have much"). Their pronunciation and vocabulary also differ. These should not be sources of consternation when you visit different Anglo countries; instead, they should be occasions for adventure and enjoyment. Just as Mandarin-speaking foreigners can manage their way through the various dialects of Mandarin spoken in mainland China, so, too, should anyone versed in conversational English —— of any stripe —— succeed in having fun with the different worlds of English.
你比较喜欢喝咖啡时间还是喝茶时间？你要在地面那层楼 (ground floor)出升降机 (lift) 还是在一楼 (first floor) 下电梯 (elevator)？到英语系国家旅行的人必须适应英式英语和美式英语之间的差异。此外也要了解他们的文化传统，也就是要了解伦敦和纽约、奥克兰和多伦多以及悉尼和旧金山之间不同的生活方式。学习这些差异很有趣，而且当你到不同的英语系国家旅行时也会非常有用。
另一个英式和美式生活之间值得了解的实用差别则和交通有关，这对旅行者或游客而言是最重要不过了。在伦敦人们搭的地下铁叫作 "underground"，然而在纽约它叫 "subway"（不管是不是在地底下行走）。美国城市里有街车 (streetcar) 可搭乘，但在英国则是电车 (tram)。在迈阿密的加油站 (gas station) 时务必说把油加满 (fill up with gas)，但到曼彻斯特的汽油站 (petrol station) 时则应该说把油箱加满汽油 (top up the tank with petrol)。不确定你是否需要加机油吗？在布里斯托说打开车前盖 (bonnet) 看看，但在休斯顿则说引擎盖 (hood)。在威尔士说看侧翼镜 (wing mirror)，但在罗彻斯特说侧视镜 (side mirror)。此外，在坦帕市要当心注意的圆环叫 "traffic circle"，但在里丁市则叫 "roundabout"。
任何人都应该不会惊讶英式英语和美式英语之间文法会有一点不同（美国人说 "I don't have" 和 "I have a lot"，但英国人说 "I haven't" 和 "I have much")，还有它们的发音及字词也有差异。当你造访不同英语系国家时，这些差异不但不应该是恐惧惊慌的来源，反而应该是探险和享受的时刻。就像说华语的外国人能够设法通行于中国大陆各种汉语方言之间，同样地，任何精通英语会话——任何一种都行——的人也应该能成功地悠游在不同的英语世界中。