Less than two months ago I was in the UK visiting family and friends on my annual trip back. It was, as always, wonderful to see everyone even to catch up with friends that I haven’t seen since I moved here in 2001 but reconnected with thanks to Facebook. One of the weird and sad things I noticed this time about going back was how out of touch with British culture and society I have become – flicking through magazines I had no idea who any of the celebrities where, even worse I barely knew what was going on politically. Just doing simple things like getting on a bus – something I did multiple times a day when I lived there, I had to ask for instructions.

Being away from the country you were born in will probably give you a better idea what it means to be from that country. I know I have found this to be true, and similarly so have other British ex-pats I have asked about it. That is a wonderful thing – usually rose tinted mind you, but it definitely gives you a sense of identity. But now it feels like it was ripped away from me. The Britain that I associate myself with is all about BBC dramas, Radio 4, Sunday tea whilst watching Antiques Roadshow, The Guardian and Independent newspapers, Earl Grey tea on rainy days, fish and chips and custard creams. Now I feel like I am in no-mans land. I don’t belong here or there.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I could say I had fully  immersed myself in American culture and society but I have not. I have simply survived as I got used to being a different country. I have of course familiarized myself with American culture, but I’m ashamed to say I know absolutely nothing about how this country is run and little about it’s history.

I need to learn about America. I know what it stands for and a little about its culture – mostly west coast biased but my best friend is from Minnesota and my boyfriend from New York so that helps understand the vast difference across the country.. it’s kind of like being from North or South England from what I have observed.

My mission for 2008 will be to learn about American history, luckily for me that’s only 231 years to catch up on, well as it stands as America. I would like to go further back and understand about the lives of Native Americans before the pilgrims landed. Thank God I didn’t move to Greece or Italy!

If any of our American voices have any suggestions for stuff I must make sure to cover, or even books I should read I would be grateful.

Not Goth, 34, Redondo Beach, CA, USA.

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