Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Surviving America

It came as quite a shock today when I realized I’ve been living in the USA for almost two and a half years!

Where the hell does the time go? It feels like I only stepped off the plane a few weeks ago!

Well, I thought I’d put my immigrant’s knowledge of America to good use and write the following guide to all my fellow Brits who are new immigrants to the USA:

America : The Survival Guide

1) Expect to be asked the following question a lot: “Oh, I have a friend from England! His name’s Bob! Do you know him?” For some reason, you average American assumes England consists of a 100ft square island with two cottages and a castle on it.

2) When asked “Is that near London?” about your home town, just answer ‘yes’, even if you live on the most northern tip of Scotland. It saves a lot of hassle, and is true by American standards anyway.

3) They drive on the right. I know this is wrong, you know this is wrong, but driving on the left, with your horn held down is not an effective means of teaching them this.

4) Your car’s bonnet is now the ‘hood’, the boot is now the ‘trunk’ and the accelerator is the ‘gas pedal’…nuff said.

5) Do not attempt sarcastic jokes. Americans just don’t get it, and it will only end in offense.

6) If asked how much an item you bought in England costs, say ‘Dollars’ instead of ‘Pounds’ to avoid a twenty minute conversation (That you’ll have at least a hundred times).

7) Also expect to be asked “So does a pound actually weigh a pound?” (Seriously, I’ve been asked this twice.)

8) Especially in the South, do not refer to the 4th of July as ‘Uppity Colonial Day’.

9) Also, “You bastards stole my country” is not a valid greeting on the 4th of July.

10) In England, going outside to “Smoke a fag” means you are leaving the premises to smoke a cigarette. In America, it means you are going outside to shoot a homosexual.

11) Therefore, do not tell your new friends and relatives that you’re “going out to buy some fags”.

12) Do not attempt to explain the difference between Lager, Bitter, Mild and Stout to an American. In America beer is beer.

13) The words ‘Wanker’, ‘Bollocks’ and ‘Shite’ mean nothing to Americans, so feel free to use them without causing offence.

14) It is perfectly acceptable to snigger when an American uses the word ‘Shag’, as here it just means a type of carpet and a dance.

15) Everything you do that the particular American you’re talking to hasn’t experienced automatically becomes a ‘British’ thing. Offer an American a vanilla mint you just bought at Starbucks, and if they’ve never tried one before, all British people love Vanilla Mints.

16) For some reason, Americans think anyone with a British accent is intelligent. Use this to your advantage.

17) Do not attempt to explain to an American what a Crumpet is…they’re impossible to describe to anyone who’s never tried one.

18) Expect the following assumptions: You live entirely on a diet of tea and crumpets, you used to live in a thatched cottage, there’s a castle on every corner and you’re from London.

19) Also, Americans also think that Britain is at the same technological level we were back in the 1820’s (I was once asked if we have computers, supermarkets and cars in England).

20) The easiest way to answer the question “What’s Britain like?” is “A lot like here, but it ‘s colder and rains more.”

21) Expect your new friends to ‘reveal’ TV shows like “Friends”, “Seinfeld” and “Frasier” to you. It’s also a lot more fun if you pretend you’ve never seen them before.

22) New friends and relatives will also buy things like “English Peas” and “English Muffins” to make you feel more at home. Wait a while before you point out that these sorts of items bear absolutely no resemblance to real English stuff.

23) On the opposite side of the coin, all the ‘American’ things you’ve got used to in England bear no resemblance to real American things. For example, American bars do not look like the ‘American Bars’ in England.

24) When buying new clothes, don’t get completely decked out in the Stars and Stripes…you’ll look like an idiot.

25) The same is true of over-using the Union jack.

26) When being introduced to new people, they will expect you to talk like Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins”, or like Prince Charles…don’t disappoint them.


The Girl said...

I'm cracking up!

The same is true for this American living in the UK. I got asked if Texas was near California and that's just funny! And when moving here, everyone thought I was moving to London. Nope, not moving to London.

I'm surprised nobody asked if you have met the Queen. I heard somebody ask that before.

My all time favorite question, "What do they eat over there?" In the UK, we eat food just like Americans do!


MC Etcher said...

What do you miss most, aside from family and friends?

It's too bad you weren't blogging during the move to the U.S., the whole transition would have been interesting to read!

OzzyC said...

Ugh. I feel stereotyped

Decadent said...

I am so doing this from an Irish perspective.

Glennius said...

Americans, take no notice. Paul was brought up in a castle called Haydock where we used to beat the serfs whether they needed it or not. We feasted on the finest crumpets especially imported from the crumpet fields of St. Helens, a town of delightful thatched cottages and drank Earl Grey tea from the finest bone china cups lovingly crafted in a quaint little town called Liverpool famous for it`s pottery shops and soccer teams. Don`t be fooled, Paulius knows how the English aristocracy ruled over the common people for he is no other than Duke Paulius de Melodious of Waltonia. Surprised ehhh!!!

Miz S said...

AH HA!!!!!!!

Precisely as I suspected!!!

The TRUTH comes out at LONG LAST, Duke Paulius!!!!!

Paulius said...

The Girl : Unfortunately, it's true. Most Brits think America consists soley of New York and LA, everyone lives of McDonalds and there's a drive by shooting every 10 seconds.

MC Etcher : I miss tea, crumpets and thatched cottages...anyway, the move wasn't to interesting...just paperwork, and LOTS of waiting

Ozzy : Then my work here is done.

Decadent : I look forward to reading it

Glennius (my Dad) : Curse you, you evil genius!

Miz S : (Twirls mustache) Muahahah! You'll never take me alive!

Saffyre said...

I'm so amused.

The language barrier between two apparently English speaking countries never fails to make me laugh.

The fact that Americans call an arse a fanny is a source of much mirth for me!

Anonymous said...

okay, I've been living here, Minnesota, for two years, and it's so true about the sarcasm. Unfortunately, my british sarcasm is me; funny, happy, witty, smiling, but now I feel I'm boring coz the amount of offense I've caused has left me unable to open my gob in fear of causing more. Any tips for a girl who wants to laugh and make others laugh?

precious said...

Uggh, unfortunately the sarcasm thing is so true. I've been in Minnesota nice land for just over two years, and I love the people coz they are so nice, but my northern British sarcasm is my forte. Sarcasm is me at my most entertaining and funny, my personality. I love it, and revel in it on the phone to the UK. But once I open my gob to tease, the offense is staggering. So, any tips to help a girl who now feels boring and is reduced to being a smiley, peppy, "nice" mute girl with people.