Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 351

American thoughts on the UK and British thoughts on America

We two countries love each other right? Of course!
And we two countries love to criticise each other, right? Of course!

Well, I asked a bunch of expat Brits in the USA what their impressions of America were, and my friend Melissa asked a bunch of expat Americans in the UK what they their impressions of Britain are…..and the result? OMG – they are both a scream!I hope we don’t have another war on our hands, though, with some of the comments and reactions….!

Show the love!

Show the love!

Read the Brits on the USA here and the Americans on the UK here. And add in your two pennies/cents as you wish!

Expat tips

I often asked what my own advice about moving abroad is……I’ve said if before and I will say it again: an open mind. It’s probably the most necessary thing to have so that you can absorb and begin to understand the new culture you’ve found yourself in without being TOO critical!

These are my top ‘psychological’ tips to make the transition smoother. Look, it ain’t always easy, and I have my days when I’m like ‘Arggh, FFS, what I am doing?!’, or ‘Oh, this place is nuts and does my head in!’, but they are very, very rare moments and I see the whole experience about being in the States as an adventure. If there is something to see, I’ll go and see it. I won’t be cleaning my sofas, put it that way 🙂

1.Accepting differences.

You know, we are all different. It’s a fact. When you move to another country you realise just how different we are culturally, linguistically, emotionally, politically and behaviourally. And when you are an expat in America (and you are a Brit) you understand that our cultures have similarities, and yet it’s the differences which stand out.
The way to succeed as an expat in the USA is to accept that this is just the way it’s done here – one way isn’t right and one way isn’t wrong. They are just different. And accepting differences, while challenging at times, encourages you to be less judgmental and more tolerant, to be more open-minded about all sorts of things, allowing you to take opportunities, and to find greater pleasure in all that you do, as well as to experiment with things outside your comfort zone.

Accept and celebrate the differences because they can be so rewarding. That’s what I’ve learnt as a Brit in the USA.

I love being an expat!

I love being an expat!

2.Appreciating your own country.

Britain is really very good at some stuff and very beautiful and full of character in its own unique way. I suppose I never really appreciated this before. From my place on the other side of the ocean I have developed an appreciation of this far more than when I was actually in my own country because I’ve seen it with fresh and more beholden eyes.

It’s almost like rediscovering your culture and identity from a different standpoint.

And it’s a much nicer way to view a place, flaws and all.

Columbia, MD- a great place to be an expat

Columbia, MD – a great place to be an expat

3.Appreciating your host country.

America is also really very good at some stuff and very beautiful and full of character in its own unique way. When I moved here I came to a country that I had really only known through movies and TV shows and I was anxious to de-construct the stereotypes and myths we Brits have of the USA, as well as to sometimes seek truth in some of the preconceptions.

I took it all in with new, wide eyes and an open mind, and from this I really began to appreciate and enjoy my host country, and ultimately started to learn and develop from it as a person.

By blogging about being an expat I’ve also encouraged Americans who read my blog to rediscover, or see with new eyes, aspects of their own county and culture and with this comes the ability to question and to keep experiencing and appreciating their own culture.

Again, as an outsider looking in, being an expat in the USA with an open, non-judgmental focus is a much nicer way to view a place, flaws and all.

West Coast USA - for me, an expat dream!

West Coast USA – for me, an expat dream!

4.Being part of something.

You can be part of something new in your expat experience, or you can decide not to be. You can embrace it or you can resist it. I decided not to fear or fight America, which as British expat you can sometimes do with a sense of ‘what they do here is wrong, and we do it better’. Instead I let America take me on a journey and through this I have become part of something. For me that is pretty special.

America allowed, and encouraged, me to do this and you just know you’ve developed a relationship with a place when sometimes you find yourself in sync with its culture, its thinking and its philosophy without losing your own culture and identity. And yet, at the same time, if you have a relationship with your host country, you can also freely challenge these things without ostracizing yourself, or just coming across as an expat who thinks that they might know better.

America and Americans have shown me that to be truly part of something you just have to take a leap of faith, and it’s by far the most rewarding leap I’ve ever taken. Ever. I’ve made new and exciting friendships; taken new and totally outside-of-the-box opportunities; and completely appreciated all the new and invigorating experiences they’ve offered me.

Ultimately, all these experiences and opportunities are what makes an expat experience a great one. I have developed a close relationship with America, and, whilst still being a complete and utter Brit at heart, this has, at the end of the day, allowed me to change my perspective on how to view people, differences and the way we live our lives. My USA expat journey has helped me to see things differently, and, in the long run, for the better.

There are loads more tips about living as an expat and what you can expect and achieve through your experience.

As an expat, I think the more advice and tips you get the better. Then you can choose for yourself what you want to take on board. Experiences are personal, but some snippets other expats have told me have been invaluable and I’ve listened and heeded that advice, and been thankful for it! I like to dish out a bit of expat advice here and there, and so when I was asked to contribute to a campaign by British company HiFX, I was like ‘for sure’! See my contribution to the expat world, and other folks’ great advice, here 🙂

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3 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 351

  1. EmmaK says:

    Interesting hearing Americans on the UK…they complain about the terrible showers in UK that are a thin trickle but I was so used to it, and the water turning ice cold half way through because the hot water heater had run out,and the mold everywhere especially in student flats.

    Yeah I think some people find it hard to adapt to a new country. My German relatives moved to a house in USA and the first thing they did was replace all the door handles with German door handles, and all the US faucets with German faucets because they could not bear the ‘inferior’ US quality…..when actually the US quality is a lot better than the UK quality of taps……but everyone has their little niggles I suppose.

    • Paula says:

      I don’t think any of that stuff is a given. It certainly shouldn’t be. The US and UK have access to equal quality products for the home (and some of the best probably are German imports!) but greedy landlords aren’t bothering to buy quality or look after their properties. It’s infuriating. Mold, bad showers, insufficient water supply- this is really not too difficult to fix.

      US houses can lack quality too, plenty of expats going to the US have complaints with their plumbing, electrics, etc, not being as sturdy as they are accustomed to.

      And I definitely don’t think its fair to say that US taps are universally superior to UK ones. Bristan is one of the best brands- a British company which then partnered with an American one. Better together 🙂

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