Since my shtick is all about being an expat, it is in my best interests to maintain my Americanisms. I have to admit, however, that after nine years here, a fair amount of osmosis has taken place, both the leaking out of my natural American traits and the absorption of British replacements.
Here is a short list:
Tea: In the States, I used to buy a 24-pack of herbal tea every 5 years or so. Now I drink at least one cup of good, British tea every day. Not as much as the indigenous population, perhaps, but it’s a lot more than I used to drink.
Speech: I have not acquired a British accent, nor do I ever hope to, but my choice of words makes me blend into the conversation smoothly enough that now, people who are meeting me for the first time, often go 10 to 15 minutes before asking, “Are you Canadian?”
Sports: I have, to my great surprise, developed an appreciation for football (and by which I mean soccer—how British is that?) and cricket.
Activities: I belong to The National Trust and enjoy wandering around the many fabulous gardens on display throughout the country. (That is not only very, very British, but for an American, it is also suspiciously, um, well, you know.)
Weather: I complain about it on a par with the locals. And I’ve also stopped comparing it with “weather back home.” If it is 20 degrees Fahrenheit here with 5 inches of snow, I don’t care if New York is -17 with 3 feet of snow, I am cold, and I am inconvenienced, and I am going to moan about it! I do, however, continue to say, “SKED u el” instead of “SHED u al,” drop the “H” in herb and refuse to add superfluous syllables to “aluminum,” so my American-ness is safe for the time being.
Even after 20 years here, most people tell me I haven't aquired the accent nor have I ever been mistaken for a Canuk. (Sometimes I'm asked if I'm Irish or Australian, but that's just because Americans are hearing an English speaker with no discernible American accent.) However, I must confess to having adopted some of the natives' habits.
Language: I dropped "lift", "nappy" and "(car) bonnet" a long time ago in favo(u)r of "elevator", "diaper" and "hood". I mean, there's sticking to your Britishness and just plain silliness. No one understands the British words. I have resisted the ubiquitous "Have a nice day" but sometimes find myself throwing out "How are you?" and walking straight by without waiting for an answer. I used to think this very odd, but it's just used as a greeting here in the mid west. I'm very proud that when someone asks me the question, I manage to shout "Fine thanks, how are you?" even if the other person is fifty yards down the street and round the corner.
Dining: - It's not so much the food that I've adopted; I mean green bean casseroles, (oops, sorry) Sloppy Joes and syrup all over your breakfast? I have become truly American in my expectations when eating out. I want a waiter to come to my table almost as soon as I'm seated, take my drink order and tell me about the specials. I don't want to wait over half an hour for my meal and I don't want it to come out before of after my fellow diners. If you give me something other than my order, I won't eat it just because it'd be a lot of trouble to get my desired meal (no matter how much this embarrasses my mother), and if it's not hot I will ask you to heat it up. Not too much to ask really, but you'd be surprised how "pushy" that still seems in the UK sometimes.
I'm not the only one to let a few American habits creep in though. Iota, who blogs at the Iota Quota, is a Brit who's been in the States for four years. She says "Oh, I do usually use my knife and fork in the American way, now, ie. chopping up all the food, putting the knife down, transferring the fork into my right hand and using it like a shovel. I have NO idea why I do that, since I really really don't like it, and am trying to bring my kids up with English table manners. When I'm telling them about their manners, I surreptitiously have to put my fork back into my left hand, and pick up my knife in my right before demonstrating. Could it be that it's actually easier to use them the American way?
Other habits - I definitely say "Have a nice day" - I really like that. Seems friendlier than the English "good bye", and MUCH BETTER than "see you later". Sadly, I have noticed that I have occasionally started saying "Could I get...?" instead of "Please may I have...?" That is one I am stamping on.
Emma K, A Brit in Baltimore who blogs at Mommy Has A Headache, recently blogged thus - "I must say when I lived in the UK even when I lived alone showering was not a daily occurrence, mainly because it tends to be freezing of a morning. But now I am here I shower daily sometimes twice but that is because it is pretty hot and I sweat a lot."
Or could it just be a question of going native I wonder?
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