Midwestern Mash-up

It was always going to be a good idea. I had a massive deadline for 4 pm today, probably the most serious deadline I’ve faced in my professional career. Coincidentally, I had been trying to schedule with one of my Minnesotan-in-England friends a pub meet-up with a couple of other midwestern girls. The only trouble for me was going to be staying awake, after the 4 pm deadline and a 4-5 pm meeting, I was dragging at 5:30 and unclear how I would make it to the pub for 8:30. Fortunately I persisted with wakefulness and managed to go. And oh what I would have been missing had I not stayed awake.

The round up is this: I’m native Minnesotan but went to college in Michigan. My Minnesota friend is actually a transplanted southerner. The two new acquaintances were a Michigander who went to college in Wisconsin and a Wisconsinite who moved to Minnesota around age 10. And here we all were doing girls’ night in a British pub. Can you see all the conversation possibilities? Yes, it worked. Awesome. Throw into the mix that I’m having dinner tomorrow with another friend who’s actually from Illinois, and I’ve managed to cover a pretty large proportion of the midwest in a short period of time.

It’s a good question, though, why it’s such fun to hang with fellow midwesterners (I mean, not just other American women but specifically American women from the heartland) in England. Perhaps an even better question is why are so many midwestern American women in my local town? And how is it that they are all such interesting women, with interesting careers, opinions and experiences such that in all cases I’ve definitely wanted to see them again? Soon! Does this reveal something intrinsic about midwesterners, or just about the midwesterners who happen to move to England? And where are the British girls with equivalently interesting careers, opinions and experiences? How have I been here for three years and not met them, but I’ve met a whole gaggle (technical term) of midwesterners in the past few months?

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16 responses to “Midwestern Mash-up

  1. maybe its a cultural thing because I’ve been in USA for 8 years and the women I’ve met that I’ve found the most interesting and with similar outlooks to life to me have been British! ha.

  2. Maybe the British girls with equivalently interesting careers, opinions and experiences are all in the midwest? 😉

  3. Yay for midwesterners! A splash of Ohio and a dash of Michigan coming soon to a theater near you. (Well…not a theater, but Norwich, afterall.) Whoop whoop!

  4. Hiya! I’ve been meaning to comment for awhile, but don’t think I have… so… hiya!

    I think the “most interesting” ones around seem to be from far afield, wherever you are, because those are the ones that seek out the “most interesting” situation, so I guess that makes sense with Almost American’s reverse observation.

    I am longing for some like-minded/educated/professional people, but haven’t really hit on any locals that fit that category yet (not that my British friends aren’t lovely in their own way!).

    I don’t think I have tried hard enough to find some midwesterners (I am particularly partial to Ohioans :)) here in the midlands, although I’m sure there are some out there…. Having a ready-made career/partner/group of friends to step into was definitely an impediment (i.e. lazy way out!).

  5. I think it might be because when you’re not in your own country, you have to try harder. So your ‘interesting careers, opinions and experiences’ are a little more on display. You’re more eager to give of yourself, and you’re also more eager to receive. So a conversation about the weather, or what is on special offer at Waitrose, or what is on the tv, or what your mother-in-law said about your kids, isn’t going to satisfy you. For the British women who have ‘interesting careers, opinions and experiences’, going out for a drink is a chance to wind down, not gear up, emotionally and conversationally. If you think about it, when people like you meet up after work (if they do) in the Midwest, do they have sparky evenings full of intelligent conversation, or do they chill out, ask about each other’s kids, predict what is going to happen in the game on Saturday, share news about the new Super Target that’s going to open, talk about their new vehicles…?

    Just one suggestion. I’m sure this is a multi-factorial thing. And yes, of course there is some self-selection going on. The Midwesterners you meet abroad are the ones who have traveled and been open to new places and adventures, as Christina says.

  6. Let’s hear it for Midwestern women! With another one (moi!) comin’ on over in December! (and although I agree with Iota…I’m still going to say Midwestern girls are the coolest!) 🙂

  7. Up here in Hartlepool there are very few foreigners, nevermind Americans. However, the two Americans I know of that do live in Hartlepool are also Midwesterners. One is from Iowa and one is from Chicago, and then there is me the Michigander. I think you are onto something. Possibly Midwesterners are the only people who can truly appreciate the mildness of the British climate?

    • Totally, the climate here is awesome for midwesterners. And I think there is something interesting developing in the wanderlust that midwesterners have for getting outside the US, not just to NY or California but to different weather/social attitudes/etc.

  8. Funny, I too, am a midwesterner living in the middle of England and I find myself gravitating towards others from the midwest….before even knowing they are from there!

    • We need to start a club or group or something. I really had no idea that there were so many of us!

      • As a start – are there any Americans who will be making a visit to Birmingham for the German marked this Dec? Could be a fun, multi-cultural experience! 🙂

        Speaking of fun… anyone else looking forward to bonfire celebrations next weekend? The Brits definitely know how to do a bonfire!! They even impressed a visiting Eagle Scout (if that doesn’t scream “midwestern”, I don’t know what does!). He thought I was exaggerating my “three stories high” and “feel the heat from across a football pitch” descriptions.

        As a(nother) tangent – I still have yet to attend a wassail or panto, and don’t think I’ll be able to fit any in this year which is a bit of a disappointment. Or, in corporate speak, opportunity! How about you guys? Have you experienced the glories? Am I missing out?

  9. @Christina,
    if you’ve never been to a panto you are definitely missing out on a cultural experience!

  10. Awwww. That’s not very nice. 😦 I’ve never once heard a Midwesterner described as having a large ego. Having grown up in Ohio and recently lived in California — it is the last characteristic I’d use to describe the Midwest. I’m sure by saying “equivalently interesting careers, opinons and experiences” NFAH was simply talking about having one of those “solve the world’s problems” conversations that seem a lot easier with people from back home. In my experience, you can easily have dinner and courteous conversation with someone who believes the exact opposite as you in politics, religion, etc. — in the Midwest. It is a diverse place and people are very up-front and “what you see is what you get.” It means you can talk about those conversational “no nos” without offense. I honestly miss those sorts of conversations when I’m away from “home” (Ohio.) I find them very interesting and I learn a lot more than the polite conversation I often have while abroad — where I find myself working hard not to offend, talk about taboo topics, etc.

  11. Thanks for the defense Rachel. If Rachel’s comment makes no sense to the reader, it is because a nasty comment (that contributed nothing to this discussion but only insulted the author) has been removed, consistent with the stated policies of this blog.

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