It is a true blessing to have the resources and opportunities to live in multiple countries. It is difficult to explain what this experience is like due to the nature of feelings that fill your weighing scale.
Being bi-country-lingual results in a rush of every feeling humanly possible, and you never really get quite used to either side of it.
To give this article a personal touch, allow me to share my point-of-view: I am a Brit by birth and an American by culture. What do I mean by this?
Well, I have lived longer in the US than I have the UK, but my roots cannot (and will not) be denied. I am proud to have both pieces of these countries to complete my nationality puzzle, but don’t get me wrong; the UK and USA are two very different places.
The two are often referred to as sister countries, but I have to disagree. The cultures are not the same and the beliefs and values of both the US and the UK place emphasize on varying topics and issues.
No one knows this more than I do; here’s a breakdown of the major differences between interactions by country:
1. Seeing someone you know in the store
England: Walk around in the longest route possible to avoid an encounter
America: Go out of your way to say hi, ask about his or her latest love interest, what’s for dinner, etc.
2. Meeting someone new
England: Ask as few questions as possible (safe topics: name, occupation, etc.)
America: Find out as much as possible (safe topics: name, occupation, college, relationship status, hometown, family, anything at all)
3. Driving by someone you know
England: Don’t make eye contact; maybe you weren’t seen
America: Wave; make obscene gestures; try to have a conversation
4. Accidentally bumping into someone
England: “Oh, I’m so, so sorry! Are you okay?!” *feels bad about it all day*
America: “Watch where you’re going!” or “Sorry,” but doesn’t think twice about the encounter ever again
5. Seeing a friend and making plans
England: Avoid solid details until you have exhausted all other options
America: Plan out every piece of the meetup, right then and there
6. Bagging at the grocery store
England: Play a quick game of Tetris and try to fit every item in your bag (your own recyclable bag) while the cashier throws them at you and offers no help
America: You are kindly asked if you would like paper or plastic and then stand around, make some awkward conversation, as someone systematically packs your bag of choice. If you are in the South and at the right store, an employee may even take your groceries out to your car for you and meticulously pack that, too.
7. Waiting to be served at the deli counter
England: Patiently and politely wait in single-file line to be served; usually no conversation here, either.
America: Take a number and avoid a brawl at all costs. The provolone cheese is on sale and hungry eyes is contemplate cutting you in line. “Move it or lose it” originated here.
England: Reverse at your own speed into the spot you calmly claimed and sat at a safe distance while the car leaving exited
America: Disregard all bystanders and other waiting cars, raise speed to 40 mph and drive straight into the spot until you feel the tires hit the parking block
9. Driving in general
England: We have these things called roundabouts, which present a novel idea to eliminate the four-way stop. It relies on alert drivers to politely yield to the car in front.
America: Defensive driving rules: Don’t let anyone in front, next to, behind you or on the same road as you, at all costs. Beeping unnecessarily is five extra points.
And, if all else fails, the Brits will always apologize!
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It