A blog about me and my adventure as an ex-pat.
Because someone told me to... Thank you Gaby.

Friday, June 8, 2012

you say tomato, I say tomato...

"my word you are so American" was a comment to my facebook post about 'selling a stroller at my garage sale'. I am not sure if it was the garage sale or the mention of 'stroller' that prompted that response but I have a feeling it was the latter. I am also not sure if it was a criticism or an observation but that's another story ("your kids eat like Americans" was a previous comment from that Facebook friend - criticism or observation?!)

So why did I say stroller and what's the big deal? Well obviously in England it's called a buggy and before we moved here I think I would have laughed if an English friend had called it a stroller. We have been here a year now and honestly there are some words I use deliberately because it makes life easier and there are other words that I use without thinking. I go to a 'stroller strides' class every week (think buggy fit) so I hear and use that word on a regular basis and have no reason to call it a buggy here. But other words like rubbish, bin and mobile phone just aren't used here and people don't know what I am talking about so it is easier to learn the American word and go with it.

And then there is pronunciation. I am proud to be English and the accent certainly gets you attention in the supermarket. People stop and listen to you. They ask you to keep talking because they like hearing your accent. I've had people pop up from another aisle and say they have been listening to me for the last 5 minutes. It's nice and makes you smile. But sometimes I just want to get on with my day and not stop for 5 minutes in every shop to discuss where I am from, how long I have been here, why we are here, how long will we stay, hear about their trip to London once (no-one every goes to Manchester!) and generally stand out like a sore thumb. It's nice to talk about England but it makes me homesick. It's nice to have a chat but it makes me feel like a tourist. Sometimes I don't want to be different, I just want to fit in.

And I have all sorts of problems with drive-thrus. It sounds lazy but when you have put your 2 year old in and out of the car 4 times that day (because you can't walk between shops here or get everything you need in one shop) and you really want a coffee, the drive-thru is the answer. It's convenient and quick and they are everywhere! But can I get them to understand me? Me: "a tall decaf vanilla latte please", them: "a what?! A soy latte? What size? Etc etc" After 3 attempts I got my coffee and an apology at the window. Jeremy was laughing his head off as he didn't believe me when I said they wouldn't understand me. Thankfully for my waistline I avoid the drive thru most days. The sat nav in my car involves me pressing a button and speaking to a call centre. I don't use it very often because I end up with the wrong directions or a long drawn out conversation where I have to spell the destination. It is stressful and makes me feel stupid. Jeremy says I talk too well and need to adopt some Michigan drawl but I am no actress and rubbish at doing accents.

So maybe I am turning a little American and have started asking for toe-may-oe instead of tomato or car-mel instead of caramel and maybe I talk about a flashlight instead of a torch, Fahrenheit instead of Celsius, yard instead of garden but it's for my own sanity trust me!

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