Them: Where are you from in Ireland? Me: Chicago.

So it’s cropped up a couple of times now.  No, more than a couple – it’s happened so many times that I’ve lost count.  I meet someone new and have the standard can-you-believe-this-weather-it’s-far-too-hot/cold/wet/dry chat.

Then there’s a brief pause… and they USED to say, ‘So where in the States are you from, then?’

Me: ‘Chicago’

Them: ‘Ahhh, the WINDY CITY!’ (always said with a certain aire of satisfied expertise, like Stephen Fry reading the correct answer on QI)

But the conversation trend has taken a worrying turn – people have started asking me if I’m Irish.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Irish people.  They are SO. Freaking. Nice.  And they love Americans, which helps :)  I’m just a little freaked out because I love my A-mur-cun twang and I’m determined to cling to it, white-knuckled, until my hard R’s and flat A’s relent and settle back into my head.

Does anyone else get this?  I’ve lived in the UK for eight years now, so it makes sense that my accent is fading from shiny-new-American to shabby-expat-mid-atlantic.

I still cringe sometimes when I hear the half-arsed Ameri-English-love-child accent that comes out of my mouth.  But, hey ho, you can’t win ‘em all!

English people DO cry at weddings, but you can tell they’re horrified about it…

As a seasoned-expat, I think I’ve gotten fairly used to the English stiff upper lip.  It used to drive me bonkers when I first moved here.  I found myself wanting to take random Brits by the shoulders and shake them until they were forced to emote.  (Unless large amounts of booze is involved, in which case the stiff upper lip stops being such an issue.)  :)

With wedding season once again upon us, I’ve been a witness to the inner struggle of Brits trying to keep their stiff upper lips locked-down in emotional situations.

I don’t know about you ladies, but I could cry for a living.  EVERYTHING makes me cry, but I don’t mind.  Mr. Nice Guy is used to it (having lived through 10 years of it already).  In private?  Sure thing.  In public?  No problem.  Just set me up with my water-proof mascara and some Kleenex and I’m ready to roll.  Happy as a sad-clam…

Twice this year I was asked to play during a wedding (sitting up front with a full few of the peeps in the pews), and I’ve watched as the lovely Brits start to cave (usually when people are saying their vows).  First their faces harden as the struggle begins.  Lips pressed together, eyes glancing up to hold in the emotion, but it’s a losing battle.  When the first tear falls, they might glance around to see if anyone has noticed.  If the tears keep comin’, a general look of uncomfortable surrender eventually takes place.  Surrender is complete when the tissue-rummaging and tear-mopping begins.

As a side note, I’ve noticed that if other people are already crying, then it’s not such a big deal.  So, American ladies, do your British lady-friends a favour at the next wedding and be the first one to cross the snuffly finish line.

Initially, at these two weddings, I wished I could’ve given them a little slice of my ‘Just cry, it’s awesome and you’ll feel better’ pie.  But the truth is, they don’t really need my help.  Brits been stiff-upper-lipping for generations  - it wouldn’t seem like England without this charmer…

PS – I’m especially excited about wedding season this year because I’m going to be PeacefulYorkshire’s biotch-of-honour at her wedding in the States next year.  WOOOHOOOOO!!! :D

Does your British man kiss their guy friends on the mouth?

yankeebean

There’s been another out cry from a fellow expat and I’m opening it up to you lovely She’s not from Yorkshire ladies.  One reader is American, living in South Korea and dating a British expat there.  She’s said that he’s lovely, and funny and adventurous, but does one thing that makes her uncomfortable.

I am concerned about his overly affectionate behaviour with his mates. I just don’t understand it. And I don’t know if it’s just a British thing? Help!

When we’re out, him and one of his best mates will kiss each other (fairly regularly and it’s pretty over the top and drawn out). I find it rather unsettling so I broached the subject one day. He told me that they kiss each other ‘because they love each other’, as well as to get a reaction and he also said that he thinks it’s an acting/theatre thing (they’re both actors).

He said there are other guys AND girls he’s done this with back in England, but it’s not romantic or sexual. He’s also very openly affectionate/cuddly/huggy with his friends (including the guys).

It makes me uncomfortable, but at the same time I don’t want to change who he is.

I want to know if this kind of behaviour is more common with British men – do they tend to be more physically and verbally open and affectionate with their friends? I’ve never seen this kind of thing with American guys so it really puzzles me. I think I also need to make it clear that it’s unacceptable for him to continue doing this with the girls he used to openly kiss now that we’re in a relationship (even if it doesn’t mean a thing!)

If you’re able to give me your opinion and/or any advice, I would truly appreciate it as I’m at a loss.

Well, I would be uncomfortable if Mr. Nice Guy was doing any more than giving someone a peck on the cheeck.  Man / woman, it doesn’t matter – those lips are mine…  But I also know that Mr. Nice Guy isn’t openly affectionate, he’s never liked PDA.  We hold hands, or have a little smooch in public, but other than that, it’s saved for when we’re on our own.  So if I saw him doing this, it would be TOTALLY out of character.

I ran with the theatre crowd when I was in high school and I can easily imagine my guy friends back home doing this kind of stuff.  I think it still would have made me uncomfortable, though.  Hugs?  Fine.  Cuddling?  Borderline.  Kissing?   Nonononooo.  Maybe I’m just possessive, though.

What do you think, ladies?  Does your British man kiss other male/female friends?

***********UPDATE***************

Thanks to Carolina.firefly who posted a link in the comments to a Guardian article about straight men kissing more.  It proves you’re not alone, lovely reader!

She said in a whispered hush ‘Do Americans really only get two weeks holiday?’

yankeebean

That’s the question I was asked this holiday season.

When she asked, the boisterous chatting around the full table stopped and everyone turned to look at me.

I thought I could hear a cricket chirping in the distance….

A tumble weed made up of Twiglets and Quality Street wrappers rolled by…

I paused (you’ve got to revel in these moments.  Information is power yada yada…)

‘Yup’, I said, ‘Two weeks is standard in the States.’

Everyone started talking at once, outraged on my behalf even though I don’t live there any more :) .  People were genuinely flabbergasted…  Everyone threw in their opinions on why that’s rubbish and that 4 weeks holiday is only JUST enough to feel rested in a year.

Then I threw in the information about the major lack of bank holidays and that REALLY got ‘em going…

All the standard follow-up questions were close behind, but I’m not sure I had all the right answers – maybe you guys can help?

The primary questions were:

  1. Is it possible to earn more holiday (To which I answered ‘yes)
  2. How? (To which I said, by working somewhere for a long time or some higher positions come ‘built in’ with more holiday as a perk)
  3. How long do you have to work somewhere to earn more holiday (To which I said, ‘I have no idea’)

The truth is, my work in the USA was mostly small-time retail jobs so I was able to have time off whenever.  Now I’m self employed, so as long as it doesn’t put me out of business, I can have time off whenevs.  I know some of your gorgeous ladies are Brits that have moved to the States – how do you cope??  I have a table full of friends that are dying to know… :)

American Women’s Clubs in Britain: Do they just eat cake?

peacefulyorkshire

Ok so the blog post title is unfair. I’ve seen pictures of women’s clubs in ‘American in Britain Magazine’* also wearing some pretty adorable fashionable feather-infused hats. Oh, and also daintily drinking tea. You can see what I mean here,where there are some stylin’ laydehs.

Have you ever been tempted to join one as a newcomer, my fellow Americans in Britain?

Have you ever considered shelling out your dough for some ‘instant’ Expat American friends?

I set out to do a little mission to see what it would cost to join. I counted 21 American Women’s clubs listed on this fair island, and two examples:

1)The Chilterns American Women’s Club- “CAWC is a network of friendly faces, all of whom were ready to help with my adjustment to the expatriate lifestyle.” (This will cost you £50 a year). 

  • Newcomer Coffees
  • Holiday Charity Bazaar
  • Trunk or Treat
  • Winter Luncheon
  • Spring English Morning Tea
  • Charity Cheque Presentation
  • Summer Luncheon Cruise on the Thames

2) For a whopping £105 a year you can join the American Women’s Club of London whose previous programs include:

  • Bridging the cultural gap- two lands separated by a common language
  • Christie’s Auction House – Famous women and their jewellery collections
  • Flower arranging ideas for the Fall and Holiday season
  • Chocolate tasting with the official chocolate taster of Fortnum & Mason

But cost aside, and if you can afford this type of thing in these Aldi-lovin’ Credit Crunch times, does being an Expat automatically make you bond foreveh with other Americans? I can honestly say from experience that it is NO for me personally. I mean, although it is nice to chit chat about how damn annoying American tourists can be when they talk loudly and wear fanny packs, and how the weather can suck, and of course raising money for charity is thoughtful. But after that….well,  there needs to be some kind of other connection, right?

    What are your thoughts, ladies? Are you in any paid  ‘American Women in Britain’ clubs? If so, what have your experiences been? Please share so I can stop being so sceptical…


    * One of the benefits of running SNFY with PacificBird and Yankeebean are the perks, like this magazine we get complimentary, thank you very much.

Healthcare Reform from an expat’s point of view

yankeebean

Well, this week history was made (again!) by Barack Obama.  On 22nd March the Healthcare Reform Bill was passed in the Us of A…

I’ve seen it on the news again and again.  I’ve seen the ‘discussions’ (fights/soapbox speeches/propaganda) on Facebook and Twitter.  I’ve developed my own opinions and arguments about what I think is right.  But I’m not gong to talk about any of that now…

You’ve probably noticed by now that this isn’t a political blog :)

But I’ve just spent the past 2 hours up to my neck in White House reports, news articles and blogs about the Healthcare Reform Bill.  It was high-time I got myself an edu-ma-cation about this matter that’s happening thousands of miles away in a country that I don’t live in anymore – but where I still cast my vote.

Being in the UK means that friends and family in America often ask questions when things like this happen, and I feel like I should be much better informed.  Some people seem to think that the NHS causes more problems than it solves, others appear to believe that it means Brits to never worry about getting ill, or never having to spend hours looking at an income protection website in order to be sure they’ll cope if someone is unable to work. Those of us living here have probably found neither to be entirely true.

It’s straight-up weird to not live there when something big happens.  Or something big is happening.  It’s weird to not know how American people are experiencing these changes.  How they’re talking about it at coffee break… or fighting about it out back (depending on how they communicate) ;)

I’m experiencing it from a British point of view, but I’m not British (and I’m guessing a lot of you are in the same boat).  It effects me because my parents, my brother, his wife, and the rest of my family are going to live these changes.

It’s strange to be so close and so far from something at the same time.  Another part of the expat process?

American in Britain AND Brit in America

yankeebean

yankeebean

Part of being an American woman, and dating or marrying an English man is that one of you will always be living in a land in which you weren’t made.  Or, of course, you’ll opt to jump ship from both your native lands to even the score…

Normally I’m the American in Britain and I’ve gone through all of the exciting, sometimes brain-squeezing adjustments involved.  Whether I like it or not, being an ‘American in Britain’ is a big part of who I am – and how other people see me.  It’s often the way I’m introduced, “This is Yankeebean – she’s American”

But Mr. Nice Guy and I just got back from a 2 week stint in the lovely USA, where he became the Brit in America.  It really brings me back to when I was the new expat in town – I almost couldn’t believe some of the stuff people said to him (especially since, 5 years in, I’m partially Brit-in-America now, too).

A lot of it was about the accent – and many many many of my lady friends in the USA went on and on, right to his face, about how gorgeous he was :D  And I’m not the jealous type so I just kept thinking ‘score one for me!’…

Another common thing is that people would ask him where he’s from, and they would then describe one of their past holidays to London because, to many Americans, London IS England.  Mr. Nice Guy was a good sport about it – even though I could tell he was embarrassed from the top of his spiky hair to the bottom of his man-Sketchers when my friends were fawning over him.  Classic:)

And so it goes!  Either I’m the American in Britain or Mr. Nice Guy is the Brit in America – it’s just the way things are now and, actually, I think we’re getting good at it (finally!  High fiiiiiiiive!!)

An English man looking for a woman – If only I could put him on Ebay

yankeebeanIf there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing this blog with my fellow sass-pots it’s that American women want a big ol’ hunka hunka burnin’ English love.

Well, if that’s true, then I’ve struck gold – I’ve found a lovely English guy that’s lookin’ fo’ luuuuurve.

I don’t mean for me.  Nononononono, I’m ubertaken – but I’d run outta fingers pretty quickly if I tried to count the American ladies I know that are looking for some crumpet.

But there’s not a single flippin’ thing I can do about it!  I certainly can’t ‘out him’ on this blog – can you even imagine?  I feel like I could make a fortune if I put him on Ebay :D

I did flat-out tell him that, if he wanted to be surrounded by interested women, he should go to America.  He wasn’t convinced…

Keep the faith, lovely American ladies!!  Single English dudes are out there – this one is a musician and he lives in the South West, but that’s all I can say without feeling like a pimp :)

One European man (now in hiding) says that American women are “unbelievably EASY”

yahooavatar15Well, we all know by now that our American accent has the ability to charm many a British man. One British bloke in a cringe- central pickup line hooted “Why, your voice is  all the glamour of  Hollywood coming off of some sweet lil lips, love!”.  Yes, our sexy accent aside, American women are also known to be  independent. Loud. Outspoken. Brash. Nosy. Noisy. In-your-face. But come on… now the claim has been made that we’re “EASY” as well!? Check out this hilarious tongue in cheek article.

Now, then! I would like to take the opportunity to counterattack this claim  as your (unappointed)  ‘She’s Not from Yorkshire’ American representative and offer another viewpoint: I wonder if European men would know that maybe, just maybe—wait, a lot maybe, we are using them just as much as they are using us? I mean come on, we want to have the  “full European experience”, you know?

I, fellow readers will confess that I only dated many a French, German, Macedonian, Norwegian just to experience the thrill of being with a man from oh lala  “Europe”. Looking back I think that behaviour was partly inspired by  the infamous character ‘Isadora Wing’.  Did I ever expect that these little affairs would last when I got back to my American life? Nah, of course not!

I would like to say to European men that we relish the great Italian coffee and your exquisite wine from a carafe.  That quaint Moroccan cafe you showed us for dinner ran by your cousin Leemo. The  stroll by the city river while you whisper unintelligible things in French/Italian/Greek/German that you claim is  your favourite Goethe poem. But, we know its all part of your game. And we wouldn’t expect anything less! I mean, come on, what a great adventure to write in our diaries and tell our friends back home!

And just for the record, at the end of the affair (when the special crepe recipe you showed us was just not enough anymore) us American gals are not begging our European flings to put in a good word for us at the immigration offices!  Note to Mr. European Vespalovah, I can NOT get you a greencard so you can come live with your cousin in NYC for goodness sake…

——-

How being a Shamerican in Britain makes you an accidental sexbomb ? Click here

Shamerican: Because ‘expat’ is SO 2008

yankeebeanJust a short post to announce one of the finest new terms I’ve heard to describe us expats in all of our feisty, out-spoken glory.

Sha-mer-i-can [shuh-mare-ih-caan] (noun)

An American that is not currently living in America.  “Yankeebean move to the UK in 2004 and she’s been shamerican every since!”

Thanks goes out to Peacefulyorkshire’s dude, Mr Chill for coining this term!  I did ask him where he got his inspiration and he said something like, “It just describes you both perfectly.  You’re not American – you’ve left America – you’re shamerican”

Hahaha!  Classic.  I prefer it over ‘expat’ any ol’ day – bring it on!

Oh, and what happens when an English person no longer lives in England?

They’re shenglish.

The pondering of the word and makings of  Shamerican? Click here