USA questions of the week
‘Do you celebrate Easter in England?’
I was asked this question yesterday.
And then I turned around and giggled.
‘Why don’t people walk much round here?’
Where I live not many people go walking. Why is that, I asked a Brit who’s been here some time.
“Because of the all the drink drivers,” he replied, his tongue firmly in his cheek. “They’re worried they’ll get hit by them.”
Expat in Baltimore
Yep, there are plenty of Brits who want to share their stories on the blog!
This is Ian’s story. And he talks guns, politics and religion – brave man! Ian lives in Baltimore and, as well as swearing like a Brit, he has view on most things, having been in the USA for 16 years.
Name: Ian Tyrrell, 45
About Ian: I’m the only son of an only son, and my mum had one sister who never married or had kids. So, I’m literally the last twig on the branch of the family tree. Other than that, I love to travel; I love taking photographs of just about all and everything. I have tattoos, a long graying goatee, and I ride motorcycles all year round. Oh, and did I mention I’m half Geordie on mi dad’s side. The other half of me is all Notts.
Occupation: Retail sales for a very large technical company.
Time in the USA: 16 years as of April 13th 1998
Reason you came to the USA: I came to the US, because my ex-wife is from here. We got married in the UK, lived there for 2 years, then she wanted to move over here, and here I am.
1. When you arrived as an expat, what were your initial impressions of the USA? Has it changed much since you’ve been here?
I’d visited the US on 5 different occasions before I moved here, so I was already used to the culture and the size of the place. I wasn’t however used to the poor treatment of the working classes. I mean how can a country call itself civilized when, if you are lucky, you get two weeks holiday a year… I mean that’s just not cricket. I think, in many ways, things have got much worse in the last 16 years. 9/11 didn’t help matters, and being at war for who knows how long really has put a downer on things. Being in a depression doesn’t help, nor does the divide between the rich and the poor…
2. Tell me a little bit about your area of the States, and what you love about it, and what drives you nuts!
I live in Baltimore. The Hell Mouth of the East coast. It is like Sunnydale, only without Buffy. I think the whole of the I-95 corridor between DC and Boston is pretty bad, but Baltimore is the epicenter of it all. People are rude, uncaring, have this “it’s all about me” attitude and would rather piss and moan than try to do something about it. You get 20 miles west of I-95 and the people are very friendly and seem to actually care about how other people think. As for what I love about it… I love to get away for as long as possible.
3. What things really highlight the differences between our cultures?
Politics, Guns, and Religion. Oh, and beer. I mean on the political side of things, you have two parties that over the last 150 years have switched poles. Both are for big business regardless to what one of them tells you. I mean how can they not be when to be in Politics in the US, you either have to be a millionaire, or in the pockets of millionaires. So who are the politicians going to look after first?
Guns. I get them, I’ve fired them, I just don’t see why people need to have them at home. And I see no reason whatsoever about the need to own an assault rifle. The 2nd amendment gives the citizens the right to bear arms to form a militia. It doesn’t give citizens the right to own firearms for any other reason. And anyone who says guns don’t kill people is fooling themselves. The only reason to have a gun is to fire a piece of lead at high velocity to destroy the target that it hits.
Religion. Seriously, who cares what religion a person is, or isn’t. It has bugger all to do with anyone else. In the UK, if you say you are affiliated with one or other religion, people look at you as if you are raving mad. In the States on the other hand, people look at you funny if you tell them you don’t believe in a god, or gods. They’d rather vote for a Satanist than an Atheist, because with a Satanist, they actually believe in something. I could go on and on about the stupidity of it all, but there really is no point.
Beer. When will Americans ever make a good beer? Yeah there’s microbrews popping up all over the shop, but they are either crazy high in the alcohol content, or so hoppy that they have killed any flavour that make a good beer worth drinking.
4. How is your life different from at home? What are the challenges and frustrations you encounter?
I don’t really think my life is really all that different here than it would be back home. Other than it is much easier to get places back home than it is here, especially if you don’t own a motorized vehicle. I’m one of those people that can live pretty much anywhere and I adapt to my surroundings, whether I agree with them or not. My biggest frustration I thing I’ve found is this inane sense that to get a good job you have to have gone to college to get a degree. I know plenty of people that have 4 year degrees that are as thick as pig s**t. Yet because they have this piece of paper, they get better paying jobs. I’d rather have someone with some real common sense working with me, than some idiot who has a degree that spent 4 years pissing up a wall.
5. Do you actively seek out a British community?
The answer to this is yes and no. I’ve fallen into British communities. We can talk about anything without anyone taking offence as to what we say. We can talk about football, rugby, and cricket. We can make fun of ourselves, and tell jokes without having to explain the punch line.
6. What’s your favourite British saying that you keep uttering? And which Americanisms have you adopted?
I say bugger and bollocks a lot. And when something, or someone says or does something that really gets on my goat, I use the word twat too. As I mentioned in my brief bio, I’m half Geordie, so I do use Geordie terminology quite a bit. Way aye man, and hadaway, and howay pet are frequently used. As for Americanism, I try my hardest not to use any, but when I was living in OR, I did find myself using the word “Dude” a lot.
7. Tell me 3-5 things you would take back to the UK from the USA.
Peeps, Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. I think everything else has already been shipped to the UK. I mean last time I was home there was a Subway on every corner, a Pizza Hut on every other corner. Nottingham has a Hooters restaurant for crying out loud.
8. And 3-5 things you think the USA should have/implement from the UK.
Steak and Kidney pie chips and gravy. Sausage rolls, good beer, a national health service, and mandatory 4 weeks paid holiday per year from the minute you start. Oh, and cricket!
I know it sounds like just about everything I have said has been on the negative, but I do really like living here. I mean the people in the Midwest are wonderful people, and I’d dearly love to move back out that way again sometime. I love the open space, and the vastness of the country.
I enjoy taking the piss out of people without them knowing that I’m doing it. I love the fact that I’m a middle-aged, slightly over-weight, tattooed, biker type with an English accent that pulls the birds like you wouldn’t believe. And I like the fact I can reinvent myself on an almost daily basis without anyone being none the wiser. I’ve lived in the US for 16 years, I have no family ties to the UK anymore, but at the end of the day, I’m English, and England is home…
I believe I have a new hero and it is Ian. Well done mate, you speak a lot of common sense. And for a Londoner to say that about a Geordie, that should mean something!
He’ll be dead chuffed! 🙂
Well, I just wished Ian lived in California – we would get on like a house on fire… I totally understand all his frustrations – and I ride a Harley. I think the longer you live here, the more cynical you can get with the whole American dream.
He might pop over!
I am a fellow Brit living in Baltimore and Thankyou Ian …..you are the voice of reason! Especially about religion and guns I am 100% behind you.
Im a Brit living in Baltimore, also from Nottingham and agree with this, particularly the attitude/rudeness of people here, too much of the all about me and a sense of humour (yes with a u lol) bypass at times. The guns and religion absolutely too!!!! Thank you this was really interesting