I recently contacted Sarah German over at The Life of a British Expat in America, to see if she would be willing to do a guest post for The Fly Away American. She enthusiastically agreed, and wrote an article about her experiences in America as a British Expat. I am very excited to have her, and will be doing a guest spot over with her sometime soon about my experiences as a US Expat in the UK.
Sarah was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland but moved to Northampton, England for nine years before heading to the states. She now lives the life of a Southern gal in South Carolina with her husband, son and daughter. Her blog began as a way to stay in touch with family and friends back home but has now become a popular expat blog. This month The Life of a British Expat in America was named as the Expat Blog of the month, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment. Without further ado, here is Sarah.
When I moved to the US with my husband and kids I was prepared for a bit of culture shock. I knew there would be differences and they would probably take some getting used to. I am not an idiot. You cannot move abroad and expect it all to be perfect, smooth sailing and the same as it where you are moving from. I was expecting to have issues with language, even though English is the predominant language in both countries, there are the odd words that are not used for the same thing. Ask someone in America for a rubber and you’ll get a funny look, unless of course you’re on a date and are half naked at the time. In Britain if you tell someone you are going to smack them on their fanny then you will probably get a smacked face in return. Pants are not necessarily pants the way you know them. Those sorts of confusions are to be expected and I think welcomed. They can lighten up tense situations and make people laugh and if people are laughing then you are probably on to a winner. Better laughing than looking like they want to smack you on your fanny!
I also fully expected to deal with 4 proper seasons. When we first moved to Indiana from Northampton it was Fall/Autumn and it really looked and felt like that season. It was cool, leaves were falling from the trees and there were pumpkins all over the place. It looked like the season the calendar told me it should be. What followed was a bitterly cold and white winter. That’s what you expect for that season. Spring was soon blooming and summer brought out the shorts and suntan cream. I was more familiar with varying stages of the same season along with a lot of drizzle and damp during my times spent in Edinburgh and Northampton. If I was lucky I’d get 2 weeks of summer which were spread out over the 3 months allocated on the calendar for the season. Here I was guaranteed that I’d go through all of my wardrobe and wear shorts and sweaters and wooly hats and raincoats. Now because of where I am in the South of the US I am no longer likely to get 4 seasons. Now I get a slightly longer Fall and bypass Winter and go straight back to Spring. This is the sort of thing an Expat deal with and it makes it interesting. I can deal with weather. There is no choice really. It’s either deal with it or stay inside. No avoiding summer though. Even if you stay inside you are all too aware of the blistering heat happening outside your window. The heat penetrates the walls and you need to have the a/c cranked up and most likely the ceiling fans on. The humidity is a real beast and as a woman with hair on her head it is a daily struggle to keep it flat and not look like I should be on that old kids show Pigeon Street. I can quite confidently say my hair resembles Clara the long distance truck driver on really humid days!
Along with the heat and humidity I am getting used to the kids school summer vacation. When I was growing up I had 6 weeks off school. Last Friday of June was last day at school and I’d be back in class by the 2nd week of August. I think that was long enough for my parents. Any longer and I think they would have needed to be medicated. Roll on to me being a parent and having school age kids in the US and I now have to deal with 11 weeks of summer break! 11 WEEKS!! Let’s forget the fact that my kids school bus picks them up at 6.50am for a school start time of 7.40am! That is nothing compared to 11 weeks of school break. What do you do for 11 weeks?! Some people send their kids away to camp. You can send them for the day, for a week or for a month. My 2 are a bit too young at the minute to be sent to month long camp and we can’t afford it, but I think it won’t be long until I am waving them goodbye as I send them off to a camp of some description, mainly for my own sanity. The fact that Americans get very little holiday allowance really makes me wonder how else they deal with the extended summer. 10 days a year is the norm for a lot of Americans. My husband is really lucky in that he gets over 20 days holiday leave allowance a year but his last job wasn’t that good and he had 10 days and some of the Federal holidays.
I guess I am sort of complaining about the ridiculous summer break but if that is all I have to whine about then I think I am doing quite well. I won’t touch on the healthcare situation as that is something that cannot just be ‘touched on’ and everyone who lives in America has to deal with it. It is a touchy subject and one that can easily start arguments amongst friends. So I tend to leave it alone. I try to be all smiley and happy as much as possible but by week 8 of summer break you can guarantee I won’t be quite as smiley.
Sarah German, The Life of a British Expat in America
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