I suppose the main thing that I want to write about is existing in the UK as an American Ex-pat, but not in that Bill Bryson kind of way.
However, what kind of way is that? And what kind of way is there to talk about an entire culture other than targeting the idiosyncrasies that make them their own independent culture.
The only real ideas I had to write about are hybrid Seinfled-ian ‘What’s that about’ meets Bryson-ian travel logs. For example, British people love things like chocolate bars in the most actual definition.
Plain chocolate. Bar-like shape
Most varieties that are sold are exacty the same aside from the fact that they have a slightly different shape, see Freddos Vs Buttons Vs Cadbury Bar Vs everything else. The same can be said for biscuits and the fact that a friend of mine once explained that the primary purpose of a biscuit was to act as a vessel through which the texture of tea is changed, but that’s neither here nor there.
I suppose there really isn’t much to say about the fact that I’ve lived here and assimilated during the past 7 years. After all, when I’m asked by both Brit and American about what I particularly miss about my homeland or which do I like better, 90 percent of the time I answer, respectively, I suppose I really only miss the people and family and I can’t say because they’re just different.
At the same time, there are things that I miss, but they seem inconsequential because in this day and age of instant gratification and digital accessibility, you really can have almost anything if you have the patience, cash or enough time to figure out how to stream the Super Bowl with the American commentary because, let’s face it, the BBC and Sky coverage are awful. And that’s not even meant to be taken as shots fired; the equivalent can be drawn from the US coverage of the most recent World Cup.
But, if I’m arguing that there’s really only an existential difference between waking up on one side of the Atlantic with coffee and a doughnut and on the other with milky tea and crumpets, then is the conclusion that you can create the atmosphere of your homelands culture with things and a mental state?
But why do I still feel like I’m floating in an ether of Pork Pies, Monday Night Football and Nothingness?
Reflecting on this state of being, I often return to a discussion I had with a philosophy professor of mine during college (or university for the Brits still reading this) who was originally from Athens, Greece.
I forget what we were initially discussing, but the topic of being bi-lingual came up and, while my professor attributed many positives to this, he felt that ‘the man who has many languages no longer has a mother tongue’. I remember the exact wording because at the time I knew I would steal the elegantly worded point and use it at every chance I got; however, I could have never imagined how much I would think about that phrase. Although I am not bi-lingual, and will never be given my grades in Spanish during my academic career, I feel that the same applies to being an ex-pat.
But thinking about it now, it seems melodramatic to act as if I have undertaken a burden of cultural challenge and dissonance simply by moving to another nation. In some ways, New England has more in common with old England than it does with somewhere like Texas.
Am I still ‘living abroad’ after 7 years? If so, what is the appropriate way to feel when living abroad? What is the appropriate way to act in relation to other expats and the culture I am apart of while still being separate? If I’m not still ‘living abroad’, then the latter questions still apply, but are slightly altered in terms of context; although, do the answers change at all?
Some of these questions stem from a fear I have of mentioning discomfort or dissatisfaction in my adopted homeland, as it is normally met with the response, ‘You don’t have to live here.’
This is both true and false in equal measures; I also feel that this response is both appropriate and insensitive in equal measures. Even as I wrote those sentences I wondered how to redact them or at least neutralize them with something along the lines of, ‘Well, I do complain sometimes and all the back handed comments I make come when I’m having a bad day.’
So in the coming months, as I do not know when an inspiration to write about this will strike again, I hope to answer, or at least think about some of these question and ideas
Ill see you all…..IN PART 2!!!!!!!