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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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(Un)belonging [20120212|18:37]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[the weather today is |the irony.]

Last night, I went to a pub and had drinks with more Americans than I've seen at once - without being in the States - in a very long time.

I met a couple who were visiting the UK for a week. This was their last night in London before they flew home. I got to chatting with one of them and she said something about Budweiser being the redneck beer in America.

"I thought that was Pabst Blue Ribbon," I said.

"Oh no, that's something else," she replied. "You see, it's either Budweiser or Miller that gets served at American football games. They're not very nice. Not like your beer."

"Right," I said, warily, as it hit me that maybe she thought I was British. The pub was busy and we were having to shout, so I thought it was a mistake I could easily correct later.

Later, we went to the bar together. I offered to get the round and ordered our drinks. I figured that now that she'd heard me speak clearly, she would work out that I was not British.

Nope. She began explaining the rules of American football to me. "It's not like your football," she said, "because it's mostly played with your hands." I stared at her as she carried on blithely.

Still later, as the alcohol consumption level and voice volume increased, she leaned over and said, "Sorry if we're embarrassing you because we're so loud. You can blame it on us being American."

I have never felt so alienated from my own people in my life.

[User Picture]From: bryangb
2012-02-12 19:10 (UTC)
Trying not to giggle... I think there are notable differences in attitudes and awareness between short-term visitors (which often includes expats posted for work) and long-term residents. I guess that among the insular, there's also an assumption that because you're abroad, everyone around you is a foreigner. And some people - especially some Americans - are very bad at recognising accents.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2012-02-13 20:54 (UTC)
True. I think there were other factors that played into it. I turned up with two friends, both of whom weren't American. And I betrayed a lack of up-to-date American cultural knowledge with that PBR comment. Apparently PBR is now a hipster drink. I had no idea. :P
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2012-02-13 21:54 (UTC)
Wow! Mego-kudos to the Pabst marketing team!!
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[User Picture]From: gourou
2012-02-14 19:36 (UTC)
It's like you've not been reading hipster hitler. http://hipsterhitler.com/?s=pbr&submit=Search
Then again, it's an obscure web comic. You've probably never heard of it.
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[User Picture]From: purplecthulhu
2012-02-12 20:25 (UTC)

My (now dual citizen) friend cthulie has been here for 20 or more years. UKians can tell she doesn't quite have a local accent, but USians can tell her accent is a bit different to theirs - that and maybe forms of speech. It would be interesting to get the two of you to compare notes on this!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2012-02-13 20:52 (UTC)
Yes! I imagine she probably has a similar lack of up-to-date knowledge of American culture which may cause people to assume she's British. On reflection, I think that's what happened here.
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2012-02-13 22:01 (UTC)
Helma has some of the same issues, having been here (from Germany) for 11 years now. Those Brits who can tell she's not local almost never guess where she's actually from - they typically guess another Anglophone or near-Anglophone (eg. Sweden *g*) country. Americans usually think she's English... (-:

In Germany she becomes aware of how behind she is on idiom and culture. But in London for some reason she meets many Germans who don't want to speak German to her, preferring to speak heavily German-accented English despite having been here for a few years themselves. It's a bit odd!
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[User Picture]From: melissa_maples
2012-02-12 22:01 (UTC)
Welcome to my life. Americans think I'm English, the English think I'm Australian, and Aussies think I'm South African. It's fine though, because I don't particularly identify with the US after having been away for so long, and most of the things Americans try to explain to me about "their" country are in fact things I didn't know, so I suppose it's fair.
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2012-02-13 05:21 (UTC)
After living in Scotland for a while, I got used to nice taxi drivers playing name that accent, which I think they did to keep themselves amused more than anything. It usually went like this:

Sooooo.... That's no' a local accent. Are ye Australian, then?




Sooth African?


Ye cannae be Irish hen? Are ye Irish?

No, I am American.

*shocked tone* No! Surely no', ye're surely no' American! Well, I've been to Florida on my holidays, and it's lovely. My cousin Wee Archie owns a bait shop Fort Lauderdale. Do you know him?

No, I am afraid not. I am from Minnesota, which borders Canada at Ontario. I've never been to Florida.

NEVER been to Florida? Surely no'? How cannye never... never been to Florida. But it's lovely!

Yeah, I know. America is a pretty big place, though.

*and so on*

I am not kidding, I have had that conversation at least five or six times. I figure they are probably yanking my chain at least a little, but it's sweet of them.

I don't think an American abroad has mistaken me for Scottish or any other kind of non-American after opening my mouth, though. But the red hair seemed to mislead a lot of the ones I met. And knowing where to find X thing or Y place while being American surprised tourists as well.

It's a funny thing, living Away.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2012-02-13 20:51 (UTC)
Yes, I had the feeling she had drawn her conclusion based on my lack of up-to-date American cultural knowledge, which was fair enough. The DW discussion in the comments on this post has revealed to me that apparently PBR is now a hipster drink.
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From: anokapolis
2012-02-13 00:43 (UTC)
Lool, i usually get non-americans explaining to me about America;) But again, where i'm except other american students, i rarely see many Americans, as it's not tourist dist. right now.

You should told her, i'm the people that own America;)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2012-02-13 20:49 (UTC)
How long do you let them go on for before you tell them you're American? Because it got to the point where I just went, it's too much effort and I can't be bothered. :P
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From: edical
2012-02-13 03:11 (UTC)
This actually made me chuckle in an "oh no!" kind of way....
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2012-02-13 20:48 (UTC)
I felt a little outcast, but mostly I was amused. And baffled. :P
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2012-02-13 20:46 (UTC)
It's not intentional. I've tried to hang onto my accent. But I don't hear American speech on a daily basis any more. My partner is English and most of my work colleagues are not American. Unless I watch American TV programmes, I can go for weeks without hearing another American speak.
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