An American Expat in Britain tries to find better word to describe her situation

yahooavatar15Sylvia left a comment on our About page last week and wrote:

“Hi, I’m a Leeds lass living in the middle of Kansas and I had a very hard time adjusting when I first got here. The women here were a problem for me as they all had the cheerleader mentality and I couldn’t relate to them in any way at all. After 33 years I can certainly hold my own, you just have to get to know people and adapt. I must say that when we went back to London several years ago I couldn’t relate much to the Brits and so I feel like I’m in no-mans land sometimes. Love your blog. “

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I love our readers. Yes, that would be you, lovelies! You not only inspire me but encourage me to think about life in Britain differently.  Y’all are fantastic.

I am writing this from America right now where I am visiting my family for Christmas. Being here as put a different spin on my perception of “fitting in”. I realize the longer that I stay in Britain, the less I fit in America.

SO if the Americans don’t treat me as one of them:

“So, like, you’re like, living where again?” she asks, “Germany or something?”

“Um, its England” I say apologetically, but thinking she has no clue about her geography

She then says “Whats it like over there– do you all wear bowler hats to work?”

And the Brits don’t treat me as one of them:

“In England we don’t say bay–sil we say bahh–sil, says the English waiter, “and I am afraid  we don’t have doggie bags, whatever those are”

Where does that leave me? Where do I belong?

Am I to move to the middle of the Atlantic ocean where I should live on a mega-boat in the middle of the two?

Like Sylvia in her comment above, I feel I am in this middle place (no-mans land) where I am not a Brit, but I am not an American.

The only word for this scenario is expatriate which I know, I know, comes from Latin, apparently. But it sounds more like ex-patriot, a word which sounds like I have given up my American patriotism! A word that sounds like I have turned my back on my fellow country men!

Surely there is a better, nicer word…

Maybe I could say I am an Ameribrit.

Or how about a Briterican? Hmmm…

So many bread products, so little explanation…

Ok, this is not exactly about accents and pronunciation, this is about the use of so many words to describe one item – bread.  It is just me or is there an abundance of bread products for quite specific purposes and many various names for each type?

I have a conversation at least once a month with a friendly-yet-pedantic-beyond-my-patience gentleman who shows up in some of the public places where I do outreach.  By the way, my outreach sometimes expands to healthy cooking (mostly to draw people in with free food samples) and occasionally I bake some muffins as part of this.  Anyways, this man and I have ridiculous conversations about the difference between a bun and a muffin.

He insists that muffins are what I would call an English muffin.  Whereas the item that I am baking is a bun meant for consumption with tea or as an afternoon snack.  Yet, other British people tell me that muffins are American breakfast items.  (and this sweet breakfast concept is shocking for many of these folks setting us off on the tangent of American obesity which is again not my sole responsibility)  When it comes to food I think I am pretty open minded and I am not bothered in the least about whether what I am eating is a bun or a muffin and whether it is the right time of day.  In fact, sometimes I have used an American recipe to make these so called buns.

The above is just an example of the confusing nature of naming bread products.  The British have a wonderful debate about what to call their baked goods – are they barms or bread cakes or bread rolls or what?  And crumpet vs muffin (the English kind) I don’t fully understand.  Some of this is explained by regional differences in language.  I think that is fascinating and I fully accept that this is part of the confusion for me.  But is it all regional?  I can go into a shop and have the option of crusty bread, farmhouse bread, thick sliced, thin sliced, bread made just for toasting, bread with a round top, bread with a square shape (I can’t even remember all the names of these types), rolls, loafs etc.  There are so many choices and each of these have a specific purpose.  British people find it amusing when I get the wrong bread as if I should automatically know what bread is the right one for every possible situation.

Is this a British thing or European thing?  And have you ever been told that Americans have ridiculous amounts of bread to choose from?  I have.  I accept that we have crazy sized shelves devoted to bread at supermarkets.  But I honestly think we have fewer choices and fewer rules about what kind of bread is appropriate for various uses.