Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another expat interview

Several of the bloggers I read have been participating in the 5 questions interview meme. I volunteered to have Not from Around Here interview me, and she sent the following questions:

(1) What do you miss most about the UK?

After 23 years over here in the US, the biggest thing I miss right now about the UK is my family. I wish my kids had a chance to get to know their English cousins better. I wish I had been able to be around and help my sister's family out when she and her husband both underwent significant surgeries last fall. I miss my mum and dad - but video Skype phone calls are great!

(2) What main message would you like to pass along to your kids about your multi-national existence?
That it is important to learn not just about the British and American cultures, but others too. Too many problems in this world stem from people believing that their way is the only way, when in fact there are often many different ways to do something that are equally good.

(3) What about America do you like the most but perhaps am reticent to admit because you're "Almost American"?
I don't think I would be reticent about admitting it, but I do like the sense of possibility over here. To repeat a blog post from a couple of years ago, I like:
the can-do attitude over here. If someone in the UK said they were thinking about maybe writing a book, the reaction would be, "What, you?" If someone in the US said the same thing the response would be "Go for it!"
I wonder how much that has changed with bloggers like Tom Reynolds, Petite Anglaise and others getting publishing deals now and becoming celebrities?

(4) How would you change America and how would you change the UK if given the chance?
The United States definitely needs a health care system that doesn't leave people in fear of bankruptcy if they actually get sick. Yes, I know the NHS isn't perfect, but in the UK no one has to fear losing their car, house, life savings and credit rating because they can't pay their medical bills. Sadly, I don't see this changing in the US any time soon, despite the change in regime.

I've been away from the UK so long now, that it would almost be like moving to a 'foreign' country if I moved back, so I honestly be sure what I would change. What I read online seems to imply that in many ways Britain is adopting some of the worst aspects of American culture - such as fast food and violence - and I think that's sad.

(5) If you had all the time (and resources) in the world, what would you do with your time?
Time AND resources eh? So I get to imagine having won the biggest lottery I can think of? Excellent! Travel would be very high on the list. The kids have not spent enough time with their relatives in the UK, or enough time over there to get any real sense of how Britain is different from the US beyond some superficial differences in vocabulary. (Lorry, biscuit . . .) I'd like them to see some of the other places in Europe that DH and I have seen, and DD has expressed a strong interest in visiting Asia. I would also like to spend more time on some of my craft interests that keep getting pushed to one side. I have a loom that hasn't been used in over a year, and DH is still waiting for me to ever knit him a sweater!

Thanks NFAH for the interesting questions - some answers were immediately obvious, others I had to think about a little harder.

Here are the directions if you want to participate in the meme:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me,” not forgetting that I'll need your email address. (No need to make it public - just put it in the little box thingy and I'll be able to see it but my readers won't.)
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


Daffodilly said...

Interview me please?

Iota said...

Interesting. Yes, it IS more 'can do' over here. People admire you for having a try at something ("Go, you!") In the UK, having a try is not respected, and success is sometimes begrudged ("Who does she think she is, some fancy author or something?").

Isabelle said...

I have a question to ask you:
Do you still talk with your British accent, or did you catch the accent of the State you live in?

Almost American said...

As a language teacher it was almost inevitable that I would pick up the accent. I started by very deliberately changing the way I pronounced some words because I had an academic advisor (who should have known better) who was constantly making fun of my accent - by using a very bad Cockney accent when he spoke to me. I'm not from London. I certainly don't have a Cockney accent, and he didn't either. It was really annoying!

Over the years, my accent, spelling and vocabulary have all become more American. Americans still hear the English sounds in my voice even when I think I sound very Ameerican. And even though DH says I can switch off the American accent at will, British people hear the American sounds even when I'm doing my best to sound English again.

Bluestreak said...

My Spanish husband noted the exact same thing about the can-do attitude of Americans. Before we left for our move to the states he talked about starting up a business there was discouraged by everyone here in Spain. Once we got there and told people of our plans they were very encouraging. I miss that a lot about home.

Mmm said...

I relate to number 1 and number 3 is sooo true. Hey, we've been expats for the exact same amount of time!

Almost American said...

Mmm - you must have moved here as a small child then to judge by the photos of you I saw on your blog this weekend!

Unknown said...

Very interesting as you have been here so much longer. Totally agree with you on #'s 3 & 4

Anonymous said...

The 'can-do' attitude is my absolute favourite thing about the USA. That, and people smiling and being friendly all the time. When I first got here I was suspicious of the 'have a nice day' culture and felt resentful, as if people couldn't possibly mean it, but now I really enjoy it - how nice to be greeted cordially and wished well instead of scowled at! At the -hello? DRIVE-THRU-BANK- the other day, the very nice teller spotted my kids in the back of the car through the cctv camera and sent all of us a lollipop through the vaccuum deposit thingy completely unasked. I don't see that happening at Natwest, Catford..
I'm interested that you lost your accent. I lived in the US between the ages of 12-18 and again now for the last 5 years (I can be found anywhere between age 4 and 90 now, depending on the day) but still sound completely English. And peculiarly, I sound like my old headmistress when I tell my children off - who knew?

Mmm said...

you are very kind!! i was almost 20 actually!

Anonymous said...

Sadly I think I agree with almost all of that. I'm just debating if I'm brave enough to request an interview? We go back every year for between a fortnight and a month. I dread it and long to go at the same time.

The Prodigal Tourist said...

Do people speak slowly (and loudly) to you when you're in England? They do to me... Looks like we have a lot in common.

Canoez said...

ROFL Prodigal Tourist! Not quite that way. Almost American seems to manage to turn the accent on and off almost at will. It's kind of eerie. We were in a British foodstuffs store when these things were hard to find here in the US. (This was before we got married, so it was quite some time ago...) AA and I were the only two people in the store with the exception of the clerk. Another woman and a man came into the store and I heard her speaking with a thick Scottish accent. Then I heard this other woman speaking and was amazed that when I turned around to see who it was, it was Almost American!

LHA said...

It is so hard for me to answer what I miss most about the UK. Obviously my family and friends. The pub culture. The familiar shops. The repeats of old TV shows. Everything! But America has been kind to me so far, so I'm happy here. But it'll never be home. - Limey

Anonymous said...

America needs its own NHS?
Right on! What is true freedom if you can't be and do what you want to do for fear of an illness that will leave you bankrupt?

When I lived in the UK I think the "sense of possibility" is what I missed most about the US. There is a perpetual cynicism that hangs in the air over there and it can bring you down after a while, if you're not used to it. If I could change anything about Britain I think that would be it. With everything they have done to contribute to the world, Brits of all people should know that they can do anything they set their minds to.

Jean said...

Oooh, this looks like it could be fun! Interview me please.

Jean said...

Hi again, sorry couldn't figure out your email address....but you can email me at jeangenie60 @ Look forward to reading the questions! Thanks

Sue McGettigan said...

I'm in my 25th year here, never planned to stay more than a few months!! I get very homesick, and like you, I wish we'd been able to go home more often so my kiddos could know my country better. I still have my Aussie accent, but I'm able to think in and speak American as necessary :)

Interview me - I'm game for an interview if you're still open for volunteers.

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