When you start to forget you’re ‘not from around here’

Posted on October 28, 2009 by yankeebean



I just read a post by one my new fave bloggers, Miss America, about ‘Being a Foreigner, But Not a Tourist’*.  It triggered a blog that’s been stuck to my brain lately (gotta take care of that, don’t want it getting infected.)

She mentioned that she doesn’t feel like a tourist any more (no more taking pics of all the 17th century buildings, etc.),  but that she DOES feel like a foreigner – and she wonders if she’ll ever fit in.

We’ve all been there, my fellow members of the expat experience** – the whole ‘this is my home now, but I still get stared at in pubs when I order a laahh-gerr’ sensation.  But the weird thing is that I’m starting to forget that I’m different.

I went out for a falafel extravaganza with Mr. Nice Guy today and the cashier said, “And where are you from?”.  I swear, I had a split second of shock that I had been ‘picked out’ as different.  And the fact that it came as a shock made me feel strange.  In fact, it STILL makes me feel strange.  Kinda gives me the heebs…

It’s not that I think I’m English – I still feel 115% USA a-ok.  It’s almost more that people don’t seem English OR American any more - like we’re all just Eng-merican Ame-nglish… or whatever the nationality-equivalent is of the colour grey.

I have a feeling this is how it’s going to be from now on.  I feel at ease and at home  here, I fit wit da Brits, but my twag will forever give me away.  I can live with that…

* Miss America’s blog has unfortunately disappeared sometime after I wrote this post :(

**band name!!  Who’s with me???

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What Others Are Saying

  1. JCH November 8, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    @Juls As a Florida native myself, I get the same question. They don’t really understand “because the weather’s better in England”.

  2. JCH November 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    After 36 years in London, completely integrated and dual national, I can tell you the accent is still the first thing a stranger remarks upon. It’s just the way they are and, in most cases, they mean no offence. They’re just interested. So, however long you stay, you will always be a gaijin. A small price to pay for having an NHS and not having guns everywhere.

  3. Expat Mum November 2, 2009 at 3:33 am

    Blimey – I must be an exception. I’ve been in the US for almost 20 years and I still feel like well, not a foreigner because I know what I’m doing, but certainly not “at home”. I don’t walk around feeling miserable and lonely every day (in case anyone was starting to feel sorry for me) but when I go back to England every year I sort of breathe in the air and relax.
    Great blog BTW. Keep it up.

  4. Redlilocks November 1, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Totally totally agree. In my mind, I’m certainly not a tourist and I’m not really a foreigner anymore. I have adapted to the English way of life, the language, the culture. Hell, my wardrobe is all High Street, my food from Sainsbury’s, etc etc… After living for 8 years in Kent, it was rare that I was ‘picked out’ as different because I was rarely in situations where I was meeting new people (& like you, surprised for a split second when I was). I mean, sure, on the odd night out or at the supermarket checkout, but those situations weren’t every day. Now that I’ve moved to Manchester and meeting new people all the time, it’s constant. I’ve gone back to being ‘American [my first name]‘ rather than just [my first name] and I’m not sure how happy I am that I am now identified by that ONE aspect of who I am rather than everything else that I am as well….

  5. yankeebean October 31, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I love the idea of the chameleon feeling. I think I’ve been through my first identity crisis, so at least that parts over (for now?).

    Roll on inner peace! :D

  6. Michelloui October 30, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I agree totally, this is where my blog title comes from ‘mid-atlantic english’ because its a way of speaking as well as a way of thinking! Long term expats just get like that and although sometimes is causes a vague (or strong!) identity crisis, most of the time its a pretty cool chameleon feeling :)

  7. Juls October 29, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    I’m loving this site! I’ve been living in Essex for three years now and I’ve started on the grey-ness of not being American or English. This reminds me I should blog more about my pseudo-Americaness in a land where you can now get Oreos and processed cheese but people are still surprised when you say “I’m originally from Florida ” and say “Why the hell are you over here?”

  8. Almost American October 29, 2009 at 3:45 am

    After 24 years here in the US, my response to “And where are you from?” (or “I think I detect an accent”) is now “Well, actually I’ve lived most of my life right here in [this state], but I grew up in the UK.” It never fails to throw people for a loop!

    So, sorry to say, I think you will have people asking you that question for a long time to come!

  9. Miss America October 28, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    You totally hit the nail on the head…that is EXACTLY what I meant. One might feel at home as can be, but will the perception of me as a foreigner ever stop (I mean, really…even if I do start saying Jum-paaahhh)?….It seems, alas, the answer is no… Thanks for such a great post and for the shout out! :-)

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