Thursday, 31 October 2013

Stages of Expat-dom

Every expat certainly hits several milestones in their journey. There are those firsts- firsts that let you know you're really not at home any more. And then they let you know that you're starting to consider this new place home. The two kinds of moments don't transition seamlessly from one kind to the other. They blend and overlap.

There's the first time you buy new toiletries and realize that you can't get your trusted deodorant/moisturiser/razor. There's the first time you need some new clothes and you want to cry because you can't wrap your head around the fact that you have to go up 2 sizes in England. (Not that you are actually bigger, but that doesn't matter to your irrational brain that is tied to the number of your American size.)

There's the time that you realized you looked right at a crosswalk, rather than left without even thinking about it. There are those times when you stumble over your words because your brain can't keep straight the American and British word choices. You can't figure out the right way to say it and then end up saying something that is a bizarre mix of the two that would make sense to neither an American or a Brit. Awesome!

There's the time your Mom asks is a phrase you used was British and your answer is "huh... well, if you didn't understand it, then it must be..." Then there's the time that you hear yourself say something and cringe. The other day, I had one of those moments. I was on the phone with someone and they asked if the number I had called from was the best number to reach me at. I heard myself reply, "Yes, it's my mobile". And not just mobile like I would normally say it (mo-bull). No, I said moBILE.

I heard it as it was coming out of my mouth. I even said "Oh my god. I can't believe I just said that. Who am I?" as soon as I said it. It was horrifying and hilarious. It was possibly my biggest milestone yet. I think I have to accept that my G'ma is right. I'm starting to sound a little bit British. (I'd always maintained that this was ridiculous and she's just going deaf.)

I'll tell you something, though. It's an expat milestone that has me surprisingly flustered. It demonstrates that I'm not fully entrenched in my new culture. I need new underwear. I've never bought underwear in England. There's no Target (my go-to underwear spot). The sizes are different. It's not that big a deal. I'm sure they have something at M&S that would be just fine, and yet... I'm dragging my feet. Perhaps I'm displaying my patriotism through my undergarments? Who knows.

What have your expat milestones been?
Did you experience any strange hang-ups that surprised you?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

It's about the egg cup...

There are many times in my relationship with Ross where I've asked a variation of this question:

"Is that because you're British, or because you're you?"

Something happens, or he says something, and I wonder- is his reaction/answer weird to me because of our cultural differences, or because he's a weird guy. (A wonderful, kooky, lovely, weird guy.) Sometimes, he's not sure. Then I have to ask my friends about it so they can tell me if it's a cultural thing or a Ross thing.

And now, an example.

Are you familiar with egg cups? If you are British, the answer is "Certainly!". I'm not sure any more, but I don't think I'd ever heard of one before moving to the UK. They go crazy for them here.

There are cute ones, funny ones, personalized ones, fancy ones. They are often sold in gift sets. There even exists such a thing as an egg cozy. You know, to keep your egg warm in the brief period of time between when goes into the egg cup and when you eat it.

Anyway. I get that they are a British staple. I get that they are commonly used- a standard English breakfast food is Eggs & Soldiers. I think I might have used one a couple of times. Ross uses one maybe once a month.

The thing is... we have at least 11. And that's just ones I can think of off the top of my head. Because they're visible in my kitchen without opening any cabinets or digging around. So there are probably more squirrelled away in the recesses of our flat. ELEVEN! For 2 people.

Why? Is this a British thing? To have more egg cups than your household needs? To have several sets of different designs and styles? Or is it just because my husband's family is weird? And likes egg cups to an excessive extent?

In closing, I present a clip from one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite British sitcoms. It's long, but there's no good way to explain the title of this post without watching quite a bit.

Is there anything that you randomly have a lot of? Please, tell me I'm not alone.