When you feel embarrassed (and then guilty) about other fellow Americans in Britain

Posted on November 16, 2009 by peacefulyorkshire



Dear Readers,

Do you ever have moments when as a Shamerican * you stumble across a fellow American in Britain that do things that are really embarrassing? Sometimes it happens when an American speaks really loudly with a very jarring American twang: “Hey Bob, look that stone bridge over there! It is from 1109, did you hear that Bob, the bridge is from 1109 –Mary would love that, bedder gedder a picture!!”

Or sometimes you get Americans in the UK that are more shocking in London, like on the tube, at 11am.  I knew she was American before she spoke. You can just tell. It was her overstuffed ‘Jansport’ backpack, a huge hoodie that that said ‘University of Texas Beta theta Phi Kappa Delta (or whateveh the hell those sororities are called ). But this isn’t about her wardrobe.

This American gal opened her bible up to the New Testament and attempted to read very loudly to other passengers around her on the carriage.   I know, brave!! But oh, lovely readers, the reaction was NOT PRETTY. One guy whispered to his girlfriend: Bloody Americans trying to push herself on us, what’s she on about? Got to give my fellow unabashed countrywoman credit. She just kept on reading and reading and reading— tube stop after tube stop….I did find myself very embarrassed for her.

Clearly she had no clue about how the British do things,  I mean she should really have a crash course in the ‘British way’ because let’s just say that preaching on a tube is not gonna win over any Jesus freaks, well, at least it’s not likely, anyhow.**

I can’t help it. Sometimes I see another American and feel embarrassed for them as they try to negotiate their way in this country. After all, I am American too, and have made a mess of it in the past, this blog will testify to that! The steps usually go like this when I see an embarrassing American.

1) Shame for finding a fellow American, a compatriot so embarrassing

2) Guilt because I really am finding them embarrassing,

3)  I tell myself to stop being so damn snobby and just laugh (the best step– but sadly it takes going through steps 1 and 2 to reach this point.)

4) Complex comes over me where I want to protect these lost souls from stepping into it even more.

5) I usually text fellow blogger Yankeebean an OMG story and we cringe


* We have unofficially nominated Shamerican as our term to replace ‘expat’ on occasion. We do not however, have any affiliation with this very intriguing website !!!

** Still trying to figure out (while writing this post) what the best way to win ‘Jesus Freaks’ over would be in this country. After 5 years I still could not give that American gal suggestions.

Feeling homesick? Why even the embarrassing American tourists might be your answer. Click here

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Starle December 20, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I know this is an older post, but after coming in contact with my first fellow American in the UK, i had to look it up and comment.

    I was queuing in M&S for the restroom. (no, i cant say ‘toilet’ yet..)

    A woman in the line behind me was having a conversation. At lenght. With other women. In a Que.

    This did not immediately strike me as odd, and i interjected a few comments before turning around and them paying CLOSE attention. She was American! Of course! no one talks to others but me!

    So i said ‘are you an American?’ and she said (ha ha) are you? Lovely response on her part. I told her that i didn’t notice her accent but the fact that she was TALKING to other WOMEN about stuff!

    The Brit chix looked at their feet and shuffled about a bit.
    Now the horrible part was…she sounded…so..twang and two-stroke! She was Obnoxious with a capital O. She was loud. She talked and touched people. She even talked to me while we were in stalls.
    I was embarrassed for her, and for me, but mostly just shocked. This is what other people see me like!
    Oh, well, guess it had to happen sooner or later…

    Because i had just first realized that this is how *I* look…i sadly took a bit longer to get to steps 3 and 4…

    thanks for your blog and keep writing!

  2. FriskyTurtle December 5, 2009 at 1:08 am

    “Bible thumpers” on the Tube! Dear God. But they don’t really preach openly like that in their own hometown of Bumblef**k, TX so I dunno what makes them think it’s OK to do it here. *Sigh* Big book that they need to be slap upside the head with sometimes… I swear!

    Sorry been gone for 2 months but there’s a perfectly good explanation! Please do a blog on why it takes FOREVER to get basic, everyday luxuries (now, practically necessities) like phone, internet, even electricity set up in a new flat? WHY???

  3. alisha November 19, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if Americans are screened before they come into the country to make sure they fit the loud American stereotype…because so many tourists/ students do. It is startling after you’ve been here for a while. I think it may be a survival of the fittest thing when it comes to volume – in America you’ve got to be loud or you won’t be heard! It can be annoying to come across it when you’ve acclimated to a more subtle culture like England, but ultimately I am proud of how well Americans are at voice projection. :)

  4. Steve Shawcross November 18, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Loughborough is pronounced “luv-bruh” by locals, in case anyone is wondering (it’s just down the road from me!).

    Leicester and Worcester are “lest-a” and “wusst-a” respectively. An extra tip: Any place-name with -ham at the end is “-um”. So “Nott-ingum” is 55 miles away from “Bur-mingum” :)

  5. Cameron November 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Hi peacefulyorkshire,

    I enjoy your blog a lot!!! I always find reading about Americans in the UK very interesting. I used to live in Lancashire but moved to the states 6 ywars ago. So a lot of things you say I feel the same but on the other way.

    PS. I think your picture is the best out of the 3 girls. But shhhhhh don’t tell the other 3 girls I said that.

    Anyway great blog I enjoy reading it everyday.



  6. Dyana November 18, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    you almost need to be from Massachusetts to be able to pronounce Liecester, Worcester and their ilk properly first time if you’re american. Where i’m from, Thames is pronounced how its spelled.

    but hey, get nearly anyone to try Loughborough!

  7. Teri November 18, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Oh I can so totally relate to this! Most notably on the tube — I’ll be sitting next to my very English boyfriend when we’ll overhear that oh-so-familiar loud American twang of study abroad students. I know it because I was it only 2 or so years ago, although I’m now a working professional expat who “gets it”, if you will. “Americans…” I always mouth to the boyfriend with a sigh.

    Sometimes it’s the expected mispronunciation of Leicester Square or the giggling at Cockfosters, and I feel the guilt and shame every time. But then I remember that I do love America, I do love our portion sizes, I do love our eternal optimism, I do love our propensity for being LOUD. And it’s okay, that’s just who we are.

    And, yeah, sometimes I still giggle at the Cockfosters thing…

  8. mct November 17, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    It’s not really a phenomenon you only encounter amongst americans. I always feel embarrassed by german tourists behaving like “an axe in the forrest” (sorry for the poor translation)like refusing to eat the local cuisine. Even if it’s only a reportage on the tv (especially about tourists partying on the spanish island Mallorca). We have this great word “fremdschämen” which basically means that you feel embarrassed/ashamed instead of the one with the poor behaviour who should feel this way… it’s difficult to explain…

  9. Peter Bondpatri November 17, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I think some of the comments her show the problem of making sweeping comparisons of America to the UK. I can say for certain that in the small town I am originally from there is not a lot of “celebrating diversity” going on. People really are expectedto comply to the norm.

  10. Mmm... November 17, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Well, speaking as a Brit, I notice how funny it is how my fellow Brits don’t realise just how obnoxious and loud THEY are or can be when here in the states. They honestly have no idea that the fact they are speaking the English language but with a different accent makes them stand out. now, yes, it is lovely often but nevertheless loud just the same.

    I have been embarrassed too when in England when American s are loud but now with my own fairly Americanized accent I see just how rude and snobby my fellow Brits can be to anyone considered American on the surface. How superficial to judge others by their accent alone.

    Anyway, I have enjoyed perusing your site today. What a great idea. Keep it up, and nver be ashamed to be American, regardless of what some locals will say. America is a very generous place, generous, big hearted people who aren’t a shamed to let their feeligns show even if to a fault. I think it is quite refreshing in fact. And i love how here cultural diversity is truly celebrated and not mocked as is often the case sadly in much of my homeland.

  11. NFAH November 17, 2009 at 1:24 am

    I love this… I had no idea how embarrassing Americans could be until I had lived here a few years. I wish to muzzle them at times! So as not to propagate the stereotypes about Americans that plague me in my job!

  12. Peter Bondpatri November 16, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I recognise this so much. I can sympathize with young people but it is the older ones that realy should have learnt better that really get to me.

    After living 30 years in the UK I am now in the position of feeling embarassed for some types of both Americans and British abroad.

  13. Michelloui November 16, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Ooooh I so relate. And its even worse if it’s a family member. What do you do if it’s family???!!! Move carefully away until the crises has passed, then return, reclaiming them? I will confess that these embarrassing moments are one of the main inspirations for my blog.

    I remember working in recruitment and I had one really strong American candidate who just couldnt get a job. I decided to give her a mock interview. Then I realised the problem–when nervous she reverted to LOUD, talkative, OMG Americanisms all over the place. I had quite a job to delicately explain this to her and I spent ages considering how to best do this. Her reply? ‘So you want me to change who I am so I can get a job in this country??’ Ugh.

  14. Peter Quinn November 16, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Hi. I am a long time reader. I wanted to say that I like your blog and the layout.

    Peter Quinn

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