Hi tristam, welcome to the Linux Mint forums
Thanks for joining the forums! Linux Mint run from a thumb drive will be noticeably slower than when run from a hard disk. To speed it up you can disable some automatically started services, though it depends on your system how much of a difference that will make. See some tips here: viewtopic.php?t=106417&f=18#p600177
. To measure objectively if your changes are actually an improvement, you can install bootchart. See here: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=110396&p=619427#p619347
Be sure also to check out the Community
website (tutorials, hardware and software reviews, ideas), and the Cinnamon Spices
website for adding even more themes, applets and extensions to Cinnamon.
You can also chat in real-time with other Linux Mint users. In the Mint Menu, in the Internet section, start the application XChat IRC. You will automatically get connected to #linuxmint-chat for general chat and #linuxmint-help for support with other Linux Mint users.
Have fun with Linux Mint.