The expats club

An English dinner companion said to me that the key difference between the English and the Americans is this:

The Americans will invite you over to their house to see if they want to be your friend

The English will wait until they are sure they want you as a friend before ever inviting you into their home

This was uttered at a business dinner; do not be alarmed, I had not actually managed to infiltrate an English dinner party.  That in and of itself presents evidence in support of the underlying truth behind this platitude.

So I am stuck with the life of a lonely expat.  I cheer when I hear an American accent, and find myself seeking out company of other Americans (in addition to a few wonderful and equally mystified continental Europeans; the Antipodeans are also quite a friendly lot and a relief to have around, demonstrating a healthy disrespect for their colonial overlords that is almost always expressed through comedy).

I have had a few promising interactions with UK natives, only to realize later that there is a clear reason for the thaw in attitude, be it a permanent one (sympathy arising from living with a spouse who is also “not from around here”) or a temporary grace (unadulterated pity).

I dither at times as to whether it is a benefit or a curse that I speak American (and thus a form of English) since it presents a false sense of security on how different the cultures can be across the US-UK divide.  I never meant to join the expats club; I meant to fit in seamlessly with my surroundings and English culture.  I was an Anglophile even as a child, reading books that took place in London and demonstrating a strange fascination with Queen Victoria.  I thought I would fit in perfectly here.  As is (probably) often the case, I had no idea how this move was actually going to feel and how little I knew about the real lives of the locals.

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4 responses to “The expats club

  1. Do you live in London? London is notoriously difficult to crack no matter where you come from! Please don’t judge us all on the basis of some people who don’t have the friendly gene!
    love sue

  2. notfromaroundhere

    I’m not in London but close enough that perhaps a London attitude is pervasive…

  3. Pingback: The globalization of music « Not From Around Here

  4. Pingback: An English Wedding « Not From Around Here

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