Earlier in the week I posted about the things that I wish I’d learned before I moved to the US (you can find that here) and the natural next step would be to post what I have learned since moving. Moving to another country can be pretty tough and whilst I have picked up a lot of useful knowledge like Kit Kats taste differently in the US and some useless things like $2 bills are an actual thing (yes chocolate is more important than money) a lot of what I have learned has been about myself. Here is a small selection of those things in no particular order…
1. I get nostalgic about the weirdest bloody things. It’s natural to be nostalgic about things that you no longer have in your life like sitting in a beer garden next to a river on one of the two sunny weekends per year that constitutes a British summer but a lot of the things that I am nostalgic about don’t make sense. I find myself missing awful British TV shows that I didn’t even watch when I lived in the UK and find myself trying to watch them on YouTube when I’m homesick. I get nostalgic about sitting on the couch on a Saturday and watching a commentator getting excited about the Sheffield Wednesday versus Nottingham Forest score (only in England would a team be called Wednesday) two teams that I care nothing about. I’m even nostalgic about moaning about the rain; it rains so much less here that it seems rather petty to moan about it.
2. I’m really bad at making friends. Partly this is because I am shy but it is also because I am the worst person at small talk in the world. I met someone who, on hearing my accent, told me they’d been to the UK. “Oh me too” I replied, because that is how awkward I am. It doesn’t help that I don’t watch TV and I don’t follow any of the local sports that people are passionate about which restricts my small talk abilities even further. I didn’t really realise how bad I was at all this until I moved to the US because when I lived in the UK I had enough friends to ensure that I could spend the evenings doing things other than Googling whether cats have regional accents. It turns out that, like birds, they may well do just in case you were interested.
3. I can now hear a British accent from the other side of a crowded room. Since I have moved to the US no matter how many people are talking at once I will immediately notice any British accent which is a little weird but it is a good way of meeting fellow Brits. I’m too much of an introvert to go up to them and actually begin a conversation but just knowing they are there is kind of comforting, in the same way that knowing you have a pack of rich tea biscuits in the cupboard is comforting even when you aren’t hungry.
4. Comparing everything is a terrible idea. Every country has good and bad points about living there and making comparisons about everything is only going to make me miserable. I like that you get taxed less in America but the fact that I recently got a $400 bill in the mail after some blood tests is not something I’m a fan of. Treating it as something that all balances out somehow is the best way. As the great travel writer Bill Bryson wrote “When you move from one country to another you have to accept that there are some things that are better and some things worse, and there is nothing you can do about it.” Now that I understand that life has become a lot easier to deal with.
5. I haven’t become any less British. This has surprised me but it turns out living in a country for 22 months isn’t enough to erase a lifetime of involuntary behaviour. I still apologise to people who stand on my feet on the train and I still say “cheers” when someone holds a door open for me even though that often gets me confused looks. I still wear one layer the moment the temperature gets above 10C (50F) even though everyone around me is still in coats and I still regard any day when it doesn’t rain as a nice day, even if it is incredibly grey (I still spell grey the British way too). You can take the Brit out of Britain but you can’t take Britain out of the Brit!
As always the best things about writing this blog are the comments and interaction I get from readers so please let me know what you think and whether you have had a similar experience of moving to another country. 🙂