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?

1 comment:

  1. Even in my head, as I read this, I said mo-bile and didn't think anything of it until you pointed it out. I guess I would have said cell before. However, I still maintain that anyone who thinks I sound British has never met a real British person.

    I also refuse to buy my underwear abroad. I have started buying clothes when I travel to South Africa but I see no point in spending an arm and a leg on something in Kenya that would cost me $10 in the States and is incredibly poor quality.

    I think my milestone was getting a driver (because it's affordable and better security than taking random taxis-stop judging me).