I lived in a flat (or dorm/room to some of you) with all Americans. For about a month they would go along with conversations where I had confused them by saying a certain phrase or word. Instead of asking at the time, I think they did not want to admit they had no idea what I was talking about, and it would come up in later conversations. Simple things like saying a ‘car park’ instead of a parking lot, which apparently would set off their imaginations of a car going to the park to go down a slide or play on a swing (yes that was said to me).
Before going to America I never realised how much slang British people used that was unheard of by Americans. One main thing being how we tell the time, quarter past, half past, 20 to, etc. was just a really foreign concept to my friends and they could not get their heads around it at all. It is evident that whilst us Brits grow up immersed in American culture whether it be by TV, movies, music, celeb gossip, all of these things that are part of our every day life as we cannot escape it, the Americans do not get the equivalent about us. Many Americans association with England is simply limited to Mary Poppins, Oliver Twist and/or Harry Potter. Which is crazy when you think about it.
My most fond part of being in America was that everyone recognised that I had a British accent, and they loved it. For a whole 11 months, of living and travelling in America I did not get bored of people noticing my accent, as it was a great conversation starter. Also, the fact that I have a really common accent back home, but in America to them I sounded like I spoke Queens English.
Since there were so many things that some Americans were unfamiliar with about England I would get asked very bizzare but simple questions… My favourite being from Kaitlyn, who I shared a room with, asking ‘Do you guys have cars in England?’ with my response being ‘Yes, we aren’t all aliens you know…’ (or something along those lines). It was so amusing the things I got asked about my every day life, that she just literally had no idea if we did everything different or not because of how little interaction America gets with our culture.
Of course, this is a big generalisation, and of course it is different for everyone, but again literally noone knew what I was saying for a month. Californians also talk very slow compared to us, and I definitely ended up talking slower as a result (thanks guys).
The main people who understood the struggles of being a British person in America were those who had British family or friends or had actually visited on holiday. The fact that the chocolate should not be allowed to be called chocolate (especially Hershey’s version of Dairy Milk which is a crime), asking for chips and receiving crisps, craving proper fish and chips, wanting a roast dinner with yorkshire puddings and gravy, or just gravy for that matter. Also, the fact that blackcurrant is not a ‘thing’ at all in America (this is due to the fact it was apparently a very invasive plant and when brought over it took over the crops and so was banned from America years ago), but my friends would look at me like I was crazy when I asked them about blackcurrant juice, and fruity ciders.
So, are you an American that has read this wondering what the hell I am ranting on about, or has this made you realise you are one of the (lucky) ones who actually knows more about England than you even realised??
What are your most memorable misunderstandings?!