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Friday, November 11, 2011

Becoming British-ified?

Was rather funny this week when I was talking to another American, a man who relocated to London five years ago from Chicago.  He asked if I had become Britishified yet?  I laughed because although I thought I had a vague inclination as to what he meant, I was curious what his thoughts were.  He said on his first visit home his mother was really worried about him because she thought he was depressed because he used to be really smiley but he just explained that he was becoming more British and they just have more somber dispositions.  It's funny because the opposite is also true, most Brits will comment about how 'friendly' Americans are when they talk about their holidays to the US.   He also commented that when he first moved here, he thought the people were really rude but has now come to accept that its just part of the culture in general to keep to yourself and not really talk to others.  So here are some ways that I feel like I have become British-ified and then a list of ways I am holding on to my American self :

British-ified Attributes :
  • I no longer strike up conversations with strangers standing next to me in public settings.  When I first got here, I did but people either looked at my like I was a silly tourist American or worse that I was just plain crazy.  I learned quickly that Brits in public are not looking for casual conversation to pass the time and that the preference is to keep to themselves.  I have gotten more use out of my iPod here then I did the entire time I travelled throughout the US for work.
  • I have begun drinking tea at least twice a day.  I know that 'tea time' is kind of a cliche way that Americans think about the English but it's a cliche for a reason.  They literally do drink hot tea with milk at several intervals throughout the day.  I find that now I drink tea at least twice a day (and sometimes more), once in the morning when I'm starting my day at work and then typically around two in the afternoon.  The kicker was when I was craving tea at home over the weekend and made myself a cup with no peer pressure at all from my co-workers.
  • I started using the word 'quid'.  Quid is to pound as buck is to dollar.  For whatever reason, when I try to say pound I often slip up and say dollar instead.   So to stop my slips, I found myself saying 'quid' instead because for whatever reason it rolled off the tongue a bit better.  My American co-worker made fun of me last week when he heard me refer to a lunch that we could pick up for 'a couple of quid' - he said he's lost all respect for me as a fellow American expat.
  • I know who Take That is now.  I had never heard of this boy band group which is apparently the equivalent to the Backstreet Boys back home.  They had a come back tour this summer and their music was all over the radio and I have to admit I did download one of their songs from iTunes last week - what have I become?  I didn't even listen to American boy band groups before!
  • I have an automatic top up on my Oyster card now.  One of my co-workers once commented that that's how they can tell American tourists apart from Americans living in London.  Oyster cards are the common form to pay for public transports on local buses, trains and tubes.  Public transport is such at the center of everyday life for me now.  I have the tube map, bus schedule, tfl website and the trainline apps all downloaded on my blackberry.  I have to learn what 'zone 1 - 6' mean and before I go anywhere, I have to ask myself what form of transport I'm going to take, what are my available options for transport, will trains/buses still be running when it's time to come back home,  can I carry anything I'm going to buy while I'm out on the bus/train back home?  I do miss jumping in my car without a thought in the world about planning my journey for the day!
  • I think the two most common topics of conversation I have with people is either about the weather or about people's journey on transport.  The conversations are typically short as neither of these two things changes too much from day to day.
  • I now go grocery shopping several times per week.  I typically only shop for a few meals at a time.  The fact that I only have a college dorm room sized refrigerator and no freezer at all really does stop me from buying anything too excessive.  I do think I throw a lot less food away now though so perhaps this is a good thing.
  • I have become a frequent visitor of the local pub.  Pub crawls, pub lunch, pub after work drinks - the pub is a central point for all British social interaction.  These evenings usually consists of several adults binge drinking from 5:30PM until the Pub closes around 11 or midnight.  The only time when the volume of the English voice seems to rise is when there are large amounts of alcohol consumed, which also incidentally many times also leads to flashing - who knew (not on my part so don't worry Mum) !
  • I have started calling 'cookies' by the more common term here of 'biscuits'.
  • I now struggle with what I mean when I say the word 'football' - I mean soccer, no football, no soccer - you get the gist.
Ways I have avoided becoming British-ified:
  • I still can't bring myself to say 'cheers' or 'ta' as a salutation or a thank you.  It just doesn't even sound right rolling off my tongue unless I have a drink in my hand when I do it (or rather several drinks already gone).
  • I have yet to have a Sunday Roast.  Sunday roast is a English tradition of having a meal of roasted meat, veg and potatoes on Sunday afternoon. 
  • I still have a hard time pronouncing something spelled 'Derby' as 'Darby'.
  • I am horrible bad at pub quizzes.  In my defense most of the questions were related to obscure British topics or shows I had never seen or sports I'd never heard of but still I don't think this is something I will ever become any better at no matter how long I stay in the UK.
  • I don't think I'll ever get into the legging fashion trend, just don't have the butt for it!
I'm sure there are lots more that I haven't thought of but these are my observations for tonight :) If you have any to share about cultural differences - any culture - feel free to add! 

1 comment:

  1. Oh wait - I forgot to mention spelling. I have now started spelling realize as realise and color as colour :)