Lost in Translation

Picture via HERE

Have you ever seen the movie Lost in Translation? Although my life may not be exactly like Bob and Charlotte's, I can relate to the whole culture shock thing and the lovely awkward feelings that generally come with it.

I honestly was very VERY naive when I moved here thinking 'How different can going to an ENGLISH speaking country be?' Boy was I wrong. Next year (March 2011) I will have been here 10 years if you can believe and I'm STILL trying to adjust to some of the British/American differences:

- Its hard to explain exactly in what exact ways but the English are VERY reserved with their emotions/body language/lives. Americans generally like to tell everyone they meet their life story/honest feelings/etc. The English don't like this and will tell you so. Show too many emotions and you're seen as weak. With me trying to be 'American friendly' has not been taken well at times.

- Spellings/Pronunciation: Lots of differences but they add u's to everything, z's are replaced by s's. Z in the American alphabet is pronounced ZEE whilst in England its ZED. Add the obvious English accent in there too. James got me an American/British dictionary once as a laugh...but its no joke. The Brits pride themselves on having their pure English way of speaking.

-Americans are very loud (like the volume of their voice) and the English and most of the rest of the world aren't (in public they just try to keep things reserved). For any of you Americans that visit England or abroad keep this in mind because its one of the biggest inside jokes (not kidding) about how to spot an American tourist.

-Clothes and Body Type: I'm still struggling with this. Most of European women are so teeny and they dress so well. Its getting better but generally if you are overweight like me people treat you much differently here than in the states. Many automatically think you are lazy or 'have issues' which is so far from the truth half the time. The clothes are expensive here and are cut very very differently. What's considered smart casual in the USA is not smart casual here. For a broke girl struggling with her weight, this has been really tough adjustment for me. I honestly believe this is a huge reason why employment has not come easily for so long.

-Food: I gained nearly 70 lbs when I first moved here...no joke. The food (and different germs) made me sick for the first 6-8 weeks. Combined with the stress no wonder why I had a tough time in the weight arena. I've since lost 50 lbs but the food still is very different--less processed I would say. There's a lot more access to fresh food and open markets. Things are packaged differently. The food standards (like pesticides, hormones) are different and things taste different.

-Television: Thank goodness for Satellite TV as its the only way to get more than 4 really boring channels. I've never liked British TV (except for the Vicar of Dibley---very funny) and I think I would have left England after a month if I didn't have US TV that Satellite brings.

-Humor: I still don't get James' jokes. British humor is very cynical, dark and you have to think about it. American humor is quite obvious.

So there you go there's a few things you have to adjust to when you move to London like I did. The funny thing is is that even though I've been here for so long whenever I open my mouth here its obvious I'm different and will never fully fit in. What's even funnier is that when I go and visit the states now, people ask if I'm Canadian cause my American accent is so softened now. So some can say I'm currently without country. I say home is wherever your actual 'heart' is currently located.


Sydney Shop Girl said...

How fascinating, Christine. I'd never looked at things that way before.

I think Australia is somewhere in between the US and the UK. There are more UK expats here than Americans plus all the other cultures and somehow it just all works.

You should really visit sometime, I think you'd love it.

christine said...

I would love to visit Australia once I become a working woman. ;)

There's a lot of Australian and New Zealand expats over here in the UK funny enough as you know.

Its hard to describe the culture here in London. Its one of the most multi-cultural places I've ever seen but yet all these groups tend to gravitate towards their own separate cultures. I think many Brits resent the multi-culturism and don't particularly act with open arms to people who bring diversity or are unique. They pride themselves on tradition and history and anything that resembles 'being different' they find awkward or avoid. Thus the difficulty in trying to break down barriers when you are an expat here.

BonnieKaye said...

Very interesting. Serving with many Europeans on my mission in Greece opened my eyes to the differences between American and other countries cultures.