When does a foreign country stop being foreign?

Lived here now for 18 months and I’ve noticed that the “Americanisms” are starting to sound natural – i.e. “do you need some new pants?” being asked across a shopping aisle doesn’t make me slightest embarrassed in Chicago, whereas to utter those words in a UK store would immediately have you running for cover as it indicates you either just shat yourself, or you wear Y-fronts (I think they’re called “whiteys” here) and your mum still buys your clothes.

Other things I’ve found myself saying are “cell” for “mobile phone” (thanks to Lou for pointing that out as the first Americanism I used!), “trunk” instead of “boot” and saying my dates “April fifteenth” instead of “Fifteenth of April”. That being said I have introduced a bit of Brit back into this culture as Rach now asks “What’s for tea tonight?” (dinner for the US contingent) and I still use “lift” instead of “elevator” – although one of my colleagues here said “what do you call it when it’s going down? A ‘descender’?” Our US family also say that Rachel has started speaking like a Brit, although I still catch her off-guard with things like “Shall I have a word in his shell like?” (“ear”).

When I hear Brits visiting here now, it does sound different and I can totally see why locals can pick out the distinctness – and it is a nice accent we Brits have. I never truly appreciated the Welsh accent until now, for instance… however people from Birmingham still sound awful…

Another friend, should she read this blog, will be pleased to know I still don’t say “Can I get…?” instead of the accepted British “Can I have….?” – I think she’s right cause it sounds bloody awful when I do hear the “get” version.

Anyway, my point being that I caught myself (yes, it hurt) in a meeting today full of Yankety Tanks and little ole me, and I realised that the American accent was totally sounding “every day” to me – and that just operating day to day with transport, getting around, shopping,  etc. was all part of a natural way of things, rather than new and exciting in a foreign land. So when did that transition happen? Could it be during the 10th pint of Sam Adams Boston lager last wednesday week? I don’t think so.

I also think I’ve been integrated more because I no longer get asked “Can I ask you a question?” and pan handlers and the homeless no longer give me that “You’re not from round here” begging.

Also, whilst ( <—- there’s another word I still use that’s foreign over here) visiting back in the UK, I actually found myself feeling that the UK was now beginning to be foreign to me – stores weren’t opened 24 hours for example, and the general atmosphere was different… weird. It got worse when I had to call someone on my cell to ask where to buy pants – especially as they responded “why? did you shit yourself?!”


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