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Remind me again why Americans don’t use the metric system? Because it’s bloody hard, that’s why! But seriously, our lives would be so much easier in Europe if we’d grown up using the metric system like most of the rest of the world. As it is, the most basic things are more difficult than they should be on a daily basis, from following recipes to figuring out gas mileage. As it is, we’re now learning the metric system as a crash course in life skills.

  • I have no idea how many kilos I weigh.
  • 13 degrees Celsius doesn’t mean anything except that I’m cold and need a jacket.
  • My face typically has only a blank expression when people here tell us their height in centimeters (it always sounds impressively tall).
  • Mountains that top out at 4500 meters smack of mere hills until I remember that it’s not 4500 feet, and “hills” like that would do justice to any of Colorado’s most majestic 14ers.
  • I’m too embarrassed to admit how many windows I need open on my laptop to calculate the price of a gallon of Swiss gas in US dollars (at the gas pump the price per liter is in Swiss francs) and to then find a car’s “gas mileage” (an American useage) when here, “fuel efficiency” is measured by liter/100 kilometers driven. Final kicker – a US gallon is equal in volume to 0.832674th of the imperial gallon used here.

From reading train and bus schedules marked in kilometers to seeing 750 g boxes of cold cereal, my brain is quite befuddled with all this metric system mumbo jumbo.

While talking to Trav about the UHT milk here and why it isn’t refrigerated, I picked up our carton of milk with 1.5% milk fat and automatically converted it to the 3% milk fat it would be back in the States.

Travis laughed, while I felt more than a little sheepish.

Learning the metric system in Switzerland

1.5% Swiss milk = 3% US milk

Some things, thankfully, don’t have to be calculated.

Learning the metric system with Hawaii H.B. 36

Interestingly enough, Hawaii just introduced H.B. 36 last year that would mandate all US states fully convert to the metric system by Jan 1, 2018. Change could be a’comin’, and hopefully after living in Europe, we’ll be ready. We might be late to learning the metric system, but better late than never!

Find this post amusing? You might like reading about Carrie’s expat struggles with loneliness in Morphing into a Forest Hermit.  

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