An American In
Jillian Z. Bendig
first thoughts upon arriving in the U.K.? Damn, I am tired; I would
for a shower and some real food (about the only thing one can think
after nearly 24 hours of driving, flying, and waiting in airports).
thoughts upon arriving in Falmouth, which was to be my home for
the next eight months? What the hell are these pasties and why are
they absolutely everywhere? From the preparation of leaving my home
in the U.S. to the moment I stepped foot on British territory, I
knew that the following months of my life would be an adjustment.
After all, I had left behind a familiar life and place to step into
the role of New Girl--The American.
I always considered
myself to be a fairly un-American girl. I find baseball
incredibly boring; I hate country music and all of its "I love
my truck and
my nation" mentality; just the thought of eating at McDonalds
makes me ill;
and Im always dreaming of all the foreign places Id rather
live than my
quaint hometown in Pennsylvania. I never understood why Ive always
unpatriotic. Perhaps it was triggered by my die-hard Republican fathers
endless rants. Or the traumatic incidents I endured each time I went
nations capital, Washington, D.C. (including being flashed by
homeless man at a very young age and having my belongings become
mysteriously missing during a visit in the Capitol building). Or maybe
because only in America a total idiot could buy and connive his way
becoming President. Maybe Im just a sucker for the foreign and
since Ive lived there all my life, there is nothing foreign or
my all-American hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. These are all merely
crack-pot theoriesthe real reasons I still cant pin down.
Most of my American friends saw me as the "worldly" oneadventurous,
on the move
And I didnt consider going to Canada for the
international travelling. If I were to have made a list of all the defining
characteristics of my identity, as of three weeks ago, "American"
fallen pretty low on the listsomewhere between "Former Elementary
Spelling Champion" and "Collector of Pez Dispensers."
My nationality was
something I took for granted and often forgot about. It only became
as I angrily paid my federal taxes or saw one of those TV pleas to "save
children" and realised how lucky I am to have been born in a stable,
peaceful, and bountiful place.
Since Ive moved, albeit temporarily, to Falmouth, Im surely
more than a few people as "the American Girl" (which I suppose
than "That Dumb Blonde"). To be defined as being "different"
not behaviourthat difference Ive always been associated
with) is something
that I was not completely prepared for when I decided to move thousands
miles away from home.
This shouldnt imply that my adjustment has been in any way a negative
experience. Quite the contrary. I already feel completely at home here.
people Ive met (and the pubs Ive visited) have been extremely
accepting. I even understand most of the surprisingly abundant differences
in language and culturelike saying "loo" or "toilet"
instead of "bathroom";
wearing "trousers and jumpers" instead of "pants and
"cheers" to mean almost anything; and making tea breaks a
On the downside, not one day has passed since Ive arrived that
been completely soaked from these absolutely crazy, random rain storms,
been embarrassed of my accent, or been nearly killed by an oblivious
motorist, or longed for more than four television channels or a bagel
In time, Im sure that Ill get used to people driving on
the other side of
the road. And learn to expect virtual hurricanes followed by clear,
skies five minutes later. Ill soon not miss all my favourite American
shows that havent made it over the Atlantic yet. I may even learn
the letter "u" into words like "color" and "favorite"
before spell check
tells me to. And who knows, before I leave this country in seven months,
may have even finished an entire pint of Guinness.
For now, those are just dreams. I have to face the factsI am an
and there is nothing I can do to change that. But no matter how others
see meor how I define myselfIm changing, growing,
learning, and adapting
more everyday. There are, and always will be, aspects of who we are
cannot change, but in the end, all that really matters is what we do
and in the life were given. That said, I think that maybe Ill
head to the
pub and work on that Guinness thing. Hey, we all have to start small
< Reply to this Article