Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 265

Being a tourist

Yep, it’s time to be a tourist in full swing.

So, hello Universal Studios and Florida sunshine, and goodbye rain and Maryland for a while.

This is the ultimate ‘being-a-tourist-in-America’ thing, along with Disney.

And so, tourism and commercialism prevail and I will be using the time not only for going on crazy rides, but for all sorts of people watching, and catching snippets of conversations from British and American tourists alike during my time here. Most excellent.

Oooh, hoorah!

Oooh, hoorah!

Expat experiences from a while back

I posted my interview with Live, Work, Travel USA on a ‘UK Expats in the USA’ Facebook group and it got an interesting reaction from some British expats who had been out here a long time. Some of them couldn’t believe I didn’t miss British foods, some of them recalled how lonely they had felt as military brides coming out here and not knowing anyone, and, of course, how they dealt with the culture shock.

I know my experience is different and whilst I have a wholeheartedly positive outlook and attitude to embracing it all, I understand that for some people it’s not all happiness and adventure.

I wanted to get these expats’ perspectives about moving to the USA when times were different, how they felt, what it was like feeling isolated or lonely, without the internet, being away from friends and family and all the new and strange things they encountered.

Some of the comments are very interesting indeed, and I thought I would share some of them with you….

British expats comments on moving to the USA….

‘I think the hardest thing for me when I left England the first time was the loneliness. Not knowing when or if I would ever see my family or England again. That one phone call on special occasions and missing all the special events back home. My husband was a Buck Sergeant when we got married. By the time the bills were paid and groceries bought that was all the money gone. He had to get a part-time job to buy the stuff for the nursery when I was expecting [my son]. Times were really hard back then but you get through it.’

‘I think we probably all looked on coming here as a great adventure and got out and did things when we could afford to. But a lot of couples didn’t have the money to take trips or go to the game on a regular basis. Many of the older ones lived paycheck to paycheck, especially military brides.’



‘I think one of the hardest things for me is not having any other British people to talk to or who understand where I am coming from. It also sucks not knowing when you will be able to go back to visit.. it’s been over two years for me now and I still have no clue when I could afford it!’

‘Really liked your interview Claire. Because you have a positive attitude you will enjoy your three-year stay here. Having an open mind changes everything. When I first came here, many years ago, I was a very snobby Brit! It took me a long time to get that no one is any better or worse than anyone else just because of their cultural background. I’m in the Pacific NW and love it! I do get nostalgic for the UK but know that what I miss is no longer there… BTW, I have family in Bath and stay there when I have gone back. Beautiful city.’

‘I wouldn’t say I was snobby when I first got here, and I tried very hard to get involved and make friends BUT I also spent a lot of time comparing life here to things at home and I think that contributed heavily in how miserable I was the first 8 months here. In my defense a little… Alaska was a huge culture shock.. I had visited GA, WA and FL before for three months (way back in 2008) and Alaska is a world of it’s own.’

‘When I came here a long time ago I had culture shock to I was from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk – a small town – I just wanted to go home, I am used to things now but still miss some things and family in England. I live in Florida – the sun always shines, but it gets very hot in the summer I have made some nice friends and have my family.’

Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds

‘I’m from Bury and to me it’s the exact type of town that makes me miss the UK.. There are no towns up here…. you can’t park up and walk around the shops unless you want to walk around all the tourist shops of “down town”. I miss real towns and villages the most.’

‘My first experience of the states was not at all like Claire’s. Huge culture shock of moving from a sleepy Suffolk village to the bright lights and 24hr madness of Vegas. I well remember the days of living pay check to pay check, of one call a month home incredible homesickness, missing mum when I became pregnant.’



‘It [America] was not really the place tho’ I thought it was then. Looking back it was that nobody I met knew, cared or was interested in England, just somehow resentful that I had liked it and wanted to go back, which they felt insulted by, I suppose. I think anybody foreign was thought of as coming from a third world country, and of no interest at that.’

‘Coming from spring time in England to the barren landscape of the Nevada desert I was ready to go home on the next plane. My parents did not have a telephone so I would have to ring the neighbour and she would go round and get Mum so half my phone call was used before I ever got to hear her voice. Sent a telegram when my daughter was born because I had telephoned her just two weeks earlier for Christmas and could not afford to do it again.’

Nevada desert

Nevada desert

See… very different. Some of those comments make me a bit sad, especially because there is a running theme of loneliness, and I guess in the ’80s and early ’90s it just wasn’t what it is now. Yes, of course it has been lonely for me at times, especially at the beginning, but that just spurred me on to get out there and meet people and get involved in things within the community.

One comment really struck me – that one expat found the Americans to have no interest in the British. I have found the exact opposite here in Maryland – they’re all up for a bit of British banter and chat!

I do recongise how times have changed, however, and I am eternally grateful for the Interweb, I do confess.

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3 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 265

  1. Sally says:

    I must say that all you Brits missing towns and villages must visit New England. There are many, many beautiful little towns with town centers (real ones, not fabricated like those in Maryland), village greens, and walkability as a way of life. Really!

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