Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > USA
Reload this Page >

Culture shock?

Culture shock?

Old Aug 8th 2002, 5:29 pm
  #1  
Shannon
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Culture shock?

So, two weeks before my AOS interview I announced to my husband that "I don't want to BE an American". He said "what, you don't want to live here?". I said, "sure, we can live here but I don't want to BECOME... like.. American".

He then accused me of stereotyping.

I guess I've moved around the world so much (South Africa, Australia, UK, Indonesia) that I never thought I'd get this kind of cultural claustrophobia: obsessively scanning the sugar content on teh side of cereal boxes, travelling across town to buy asian food and eating sardines at every opportunity.

This whole IDENTItY thing was brought on by watching Black Hawk Down with a group of our (American born and raised not travelled) friends. The differences between my and their response was really disturbing.

The frustrating thing is we can't afford to make lots of trips home to see friends and family and get my non-america fix.

Anyway, I just wondered if there were many others out there who really miss their home countries and have got over the thrill of being "in the US with loved on" and kind of wish they could be somewhere else with loved one, for a while.

Shannon (with one year old baby, getting stir crazy)
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 7:02 pm
  #2  
pharrya's troublen strife
 
ms_bhon's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2001
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 348
ms_bhon has a brilliant futurems_bhon has a brilliant futurems_bhon has a brilliant futurems_bhon has a brilliant futurems_bhon has a brilliant futurems_bhon has a brilliant future
Default

Well, although I understand your point of view, I do think you might be stereotyping a bit- I mean I'm American, but I've lived briefly in the UK and have travelled to 5 continents so far. I would say the majority of my (American) friends are fairly well travelled as well and have a similar world view to any other well travelled citizen of the world- surely more than somebody from say, Adelaide who's lived there their whole life or someone from Aberdeen who thinks a trip to Glasgow's a big deal.

I rather take some exception to your assumption that because your husband's friends haven't travelled and have perhaps a limited world view that all Americans are that way... Really- what *did* you learn on your travels after all?

That being said, I will tell you that my British husband grew up with an English mother and an Austrian father- in the UK. His dad lived there for 33 years until he passed away last year, and is buried in the village cemetary.
Although he eventually began to think of Britain as his home, he remained an Austrian citizen.
If you wish to remain here, you can continue to live as a permanent resident. No need to become a citizen unless you want to be able to vote or get certain security clearances for work.

My advice to you would be to seek out other like minded individuals where you live, whether they be American *or* expat. Try going into the message boards at http://www.lonelyplanet.com to connect with other travel minded people. There are "chat" branches like Women Travellers, the Men's Room, and Your Choice.

Buy quite frankly, Shannon, with a one year old baby, your priorities right now are possibly more geared towards connecting with other mothers. And if you really dislike it here that much, why not consider these options:
*Move to a larger, more cosmopolitian city
* Both of you emigrate to Canada
* Move back to your home country

I'm sorry- I'm well travelled, have friends all over the world, am pretty much a social liberal and I still have to agree with your husband, you *are* stereotyping.
ms_bhon is offline  
Old Aug 8th 2002, 7:35 pm
  #3  
L D Jones
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

Shannon wrote:
    > So, two weeks before my AOS interview I announced to my husband that "I don't want
    > to BE an American". He said "what, you don't want to live here?". I said, "sure,
    > we can live here but I don't want to BECOME... like.. American".
    > He then accused me of stereotyping.

There is no requirement for you to become a US citizen (to take the point literally).
My wife is British and is not sure she will, no matter how long we live in the US.
It's her choice and I certainly wouldn't try to force her to do it.

[ ... ]

    > Anyway, I just wondered if there were many others out there who really miss their
    > home countries and have got over the thrill of being "in the US with loved on" and
    > kind of wish they could be somewhere else with loved one, for a while.

I often wish I could be somewhere else -- and I'm an American. Not all of us think
the way most of the people you seem to have met do. Perhaps this is because I lived
out of the US for a number of years, I don't know. The whole "my country, right or
wrong" thing that a lot of Americans seem to believe in is BS, in my opinion.
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 8:12 pm
  #4  
Pussycat
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

<snippage>

    > Anyway, I just wondered if there were many others out there who really miss their
    > home countries and have got over the thrill of being "in the US with loved on" and
    > kind of wish they could be somewhere else with loved one, for a while.
    > Shannon (with one year old baby, getting stir crazy)

Hi, Shannon.

Yes, I confess to feeling similar things. Having spent three months in the States on
a visitors visa, I can relate to that. Specially when there's a possibility that I
might stay there for the better part of the rest of my life.

The US is an overwhelming way of life, it's a way of being, it's like (as said
elsewhere on this thread) "my country right or wrong" - and that's the way I kinda
sorta feel about my own country! But I know, living in someone else's place, I can't
allow that to surface.

But I'll always be foreign over there - and to be honest, I wouldn't want it any
other way. Don't get me wrong, I like Americans (so long as they don't want me to
swear allegiance to anything!) and I respect their way of life, but to me, it'll
always be foreign. I'll always be hankering after eating salt and vinegar soaked
fish and chips along a cold, wind blustered sea front and I know there's no way I'll
ever be able to explain the allure to other Americans. But, to be honest, being
foreign and patriotic to another country, does give me the serious squidges... I
hope I'll manage but God help the first person who tries to pull the "America is the
greatest planet on the face of the earth" shit on me! (Sorry, Mr Quayle - that line
will never be forgotten.)

Still, in another way, I see it as being a bit "exotic". I have found most Americans
to be quite accepting of different cultures and ways of life, so that's okay. But,
like you, I will never *be* American, I will never lose my identity or my
nationality, I will be British (and in particular, Scottish) until the end of time
and so long as I can come to terms with always being the foreigner, that's cool. I
know that most of my American friends appreciate the difference and - in some cases -
celebrate it. It's who I am. My American spouse recognises that and enjoys me for
who and what I am - I've even heard him threaten me with all sorts of curses if I
ever change.

No, even if I do end up living in the States, I'll never be a part of it - well,
maybe in part but not wholly. I'll enjoy it for what it is, I'll enjoy the friends I
have there for who they are - in other words "vive la difference". But for me to
become American would be as wrong as for an American to move here and become British.
What's the point? Where we live doesn't define who we are.

And sometimes it's good to be foreign. (I hope, fingers crossed.) You certainly
won't go unnoticed!

Cheers, -- cat
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 8:17 pm
  #5  
Concierge
 
Rete's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 43,716
Rete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond reputeRete has a reputation beyond repute
Default

Not getting into the political arena with this one but what do you mean when you said "I don't want to ... BECOME .... like American"

Tell us what or how exactly you perceive Americans to be that is so distasteful?

I consider myself fairly well traveled and rounded in experience as is one of my two daughters. We both had traveled to many countries and between us have spent time in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, South America and Africa. And hey, we are only lower middle class working stiffs ;-)

Rete
Rete is offline  
Old Aug 8th 2002, 9:19 pm
  #6  
Pussycat
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

Speaking for myself, I don't find Americans "distasteful", nor did the original
poster mention or even allude to such a word.

I am married to an American. I don't find him or his friends "distasteful" - but nor
would I want to become like them simply because I'm NOT American. That is not my
upbringing or my way of life or education. I will always be Scottish. That's where
I was born and raised, where I've spent most of my life.

I'm sure she'll correct me if I'm wrong, but what I picked up from the original
poster was that she didn't want to lose herself, her nationality - and for someone on
the outside looking in, that's a danger that faces every new immigrant.

America - to me, the outsider - is a BIG way of being. TV, the movies, marketing -
all of it proclaims "how great it is to be American" at one point or another. And
that's fine - if you're American. But for immigrants like us (and remember, that's
what modern America was founded on), we'll never lose a sense of our own nationality
nor would we want to be swallowed up in the big American propaganda machine. Doesn't
mean to say we don't appreciate the people or the nation - just that we'll not really
ever be a part of it the way a born-n-bred American would.

It's all a case of personal identity, that's all. I don't really think anyone
intended you to feel that Americans were "distasteful" in some way. If that was so,
why on earth would we marry them?

Ex-pats will always be a bit homesick. That doesn't mean to say we won't like where
we live or that we will find the natives not to our liking. But you can't take on a
nation's culture just because you are moving there with your spouse.

-- cat



    > Not getting into the political arena with this one but what do you mean when you
    > said "I don't want to ... BECOME .... like American"
    > Tell us what or how exactly you perceive Americans to be that is so distasteful?
    > I consider myself fairly well traveled and rounded in experience as is one of my
    > two daughters. We both had traveled to many countries and between us have spent
    > time in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, South
    > America and Africa. And hey, we are only lower middle class working stiffs ;-)
    > Rete
    > --
    > Posted via http://britishexpats.com
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 9:44 pm
  #7  
Steve
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

I think there's a great difference between being "an American", which I define as
being an American citizen, and being "American", which I define as a being part of
the culture, part of the Nation.

I am a US citizen, living in Britain. I could be "A Brit". I will never be British.
Much as I would like to be, I was born and raised in America. Until I moved here I
never knew what it was like to live here for any length of time, much less a
lifetime. I was never exposed to what made this country what it is. I'd never
experienced it's traditions or it's culture first hand. To suddenly "adapt" and
incorporate all that into myself, and say "I'm British" would be impossible. To
expect me to do so would be ludicrous. And no matter how many years I've been here
or how well travelled I may be, my accent always gives me away. And even if I became
a British Citizen, there's nothing that would ever make me English or Scottish,
although I might choose one or the other as my home. I am what I am. I want to
remain what I am.

I think what this woman is saying is that she doesn't want to lose her own identity
and become "American". It's not who she is, it isn't how she was brought up and it
certainly wasn't the influence she lived under, until she moved to the US. So why is
wanting to keep her identity equivalent to finding Americans "distasteful"? When you
moved to Germany, did you ever say you didn't want to become German? Did you mean it
as some sort of offense? Certainly not. You are who you are, and want to remain so.
Why not her?

But hey, it's just my $.02 worth.


"Rete" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Not getting into the political arena with this one but what do you mean when you
    > said "I don't want to ... BECOME .... like American"
    > Tell us what or how exactly you perceive Americans to be that is so distasteful?
    > I consider myself fairly well traveled and rounded in experience as is one of my
    > two daughters. We both had traveled to many countries and between us have spent
    > time in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, South
    > America and Africa. And hey, we are only lower middle class working stiffs ;-)
    > Rete
    > --
    > Posted via http://britishexpats.com
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 10:08 pm
  #8  
Forum Regular
 
northspoon's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 214
northspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nicenorthspoon is just really nice
Default

I totally and utterly understand how you feel and i haven't even got my visa to move to America yet.
I think the only problem you face is the thought of losing your identity. This is an emotional issue and I think it will iron itself out in time. Your "loved one" just needs to learn to be sympathetic to your feelings. With your guidance i am sure he will or you wouldnt have "fallen" for him in the first place.
I dont think you find anything "distasteful about being an American" it's about being you!! There are certain things about differing cultures (including your own) that you dont necessarily agree with but you learn to live with. Having a child that is so young is bound to make you address these issues. I adore my "soon to be" American husband (we are getting married on Saturday)) but there are some things about his place of birth that i find totally unacceptable and NEVER will be settled with, just as i am sure that he feels the same about aspects of my culture. My humble advice is to use these differences as a reason to unite and become stronger rather than a wedge to determine the differences.
Good luck with your future.
northspoon is offline  
Old Aug 8th 2002, 11:10 pm
  #9  
Shannon
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Yes, Pussycat and Steve heard my intended meaning. I don't want to lose the things that I associate with my identity - being part of the British Diaspora

I certainly did not mean that I find my American friends in any way inferior. However, I do find them different. I live in Seattle so there is lots of different stuff - from piercings to swedish enclaves.

When I first arrived I found that difference exciting. I have many friends in other countries who said "how on earth could you go and live in America?". I was fond of telling them stories highlighting the different way people do things here. These differences were not things I scorn or demean local people for. I was not stereotyping Americans as untravelled or mocking the American version of ethnic cuisines. The things I remarked on were things like:

+ telemarketers calling every day to sell long distance stuff.
+ people driving to the store two blocks away
+ the prevalence of television
+ the issues with meat production
+ nationalism, flags on trucks
+ the way you have to really hunt to find a source of independent news
+ how sweet most bread is

I wasn't broadcasting this stuff to an undifferentiated foreign public. But to MY friends. People who share MY identity - asian influenced, post-anarchists, ex-vegetarian, relativist, buddhist, liberals

Here, I have sought out people with small children, liberals, readers, thinkers. But it is not always easy to connect in a new place when you don't share the idiom, didn't watch the same TV shows as kids, don't get the local humour and (in the snobby neighbourhood nearby) didn't go to the Known Schools.

Regardless. Its not just about my friends. I do not believe one has to be closed-minded or prejudiced to have been shaped by living in a superpower. It has an effect on your identity. Even as a critic. Even as a liberal. Just as my experience of growing up as an "outsider" country has shaped my sense of self.

Now, after a few years here the novelty of shiny, fast, affluent, sweet and red-white-&-blue has dulled. At times I am just tired of it. I want bread to taste like it used to. I want someone to "read" my body language and intonation rather than comment on the beauty of my accent.

I do not mean to cause offence. Perhaps only those who have shared my experiece can deceipher my attempt to communicate a rather ephemeral discomfit.

Shannon
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 11:12 pm
  #10  
Violeta
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

Hi!

I don't want to become an American either; and we are not expected to; at least my
husband doesn't mind; just the opposite - he fell in love with me, because I was not
American, I was different. I am homesick, a lot.Haven't been home for 4 years; phone
conversations only with relatives and friends.But, you know, as long as you stay true
to yourself, do the things you want to do and have a happy marriage, there is no
"culture shock." What is exactly to be an "American"? Is there a real national
character in this cosmopolitan country, created a little over 2 centuries ago? Maybe,
there is only a typical lifestyle, which is a bit different from the rest of the
world. We are all in the same boat, and it's fun sometimes....

Cheers.
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 11:18 pm
  #11  
Shannon
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Oh, and PS

On re-reading i see that the Black Hawk Down thing probably created the wrong impression. While that brought my experience to mind, it was not the main point.

The people I saw the movie with were not closed-minded, however when the Somalis kept advancing to be killed in their hundreds, and celebrated at the death of one American, someone commented that in view of the cost in Somali lives "they devalue themselves to count that a victory".

For me, having lived in places where America is perceived as a monolithic Goliath, I had a different take on the scene. A discussion followed which highlighted the particular differences between myself and THEIR experience. And hey, this was a movie - meant to stir emotions and raise questions. I did not project this onto all Americans.

My point was more general. As much about sugar as nationalism.

Shannon
 
Old Aug 8th 2002, 11:29 pm
  #12  
Michael D. Young
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

Shannon wrote:

    > So, two weeks before my AOS interview I announced to my husband that "I don't want
    > to BE an American". He said "what, you don't want to live here?". I said, "sure,
    > we can live here but I don't want to BECOME... like.. American".
    > He then accused me of stereotyping.
    > I guess I've moved around the world so much (South Africa, Australia, UK,
    > Indonesia) that I never thought I'd get this kind of cultural claustrophobia:
    > obsessively scanning the sugar content on teh side of cereal boxes, travelling
    > across town to buy asian food and eating sardines at every opportunity.
    > This whole IDENTItY thing was brought on by watching Black Hawk Down with a group
    > of our (American born and raised not travelled) friends. The differences between my
    > and their response was really disturbing.
    > The frustrating thing is we can't afford to make lots of trips home to see friends
    > and family and get my non-america fix.
    > Anyway, I just wondered if there were many others out there who really miss their
    > home countries and have got over the thrill of being "in the US with loved on" and
    > kind of wish they could be somewhere else with loved one, for a while.
    > Shannon (with one year old baby, getting stir crazy)

Hi All!

Well if you don't ever want to become a U.S. citizen and miss your "home country", I
suggest you go back.

I think it should be a requirement to live here that you at some point become a
U.S. citizen.

Don't let the Statute of Liberty hit in the ass on the way out.


Take care,

Mike
 
Old Aug 9th 2002, 12:17 am
  #13  
Matta Harri
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

In article <[email protected]>, Shannon
<[email protected]> wrote:
    > I guess I've moved around the world so much (South Africa, Australia, UK,
    > Indonesia) that I never thought I'd get this kind of cultural claustrophobia:
    > obsessively scanning the sugar content on teh side of cereal boxes, travelling
    > across town to buy asian food and eating sardines at every opportunity. This whole
    > IDENTItY thing was brought on by watching Black Hawk Down with a group of our
    > (American born and raised not travelled) friends. The differences between my and
    > their response was really disturbing. The frustrating thing is we can't afford to
    > make lots of trips home to see friends and family and get my non-america fix.
    > Anyway, I just wondered if there were many others out there who really miss their
    > home countries and have got over the thrill of being "in the US with loved on" and
    > kind of wish they could be somewhere else with loved one, for a while.
My husband still misses his country and the rest of Europe too. We have taken a
vacation to Europe each of the last two years, and this has helped. The intersting
thing is that hubby has found that somehow, in his absence, Europe has become more
and more like the US!!! We were going down the interstate, and he said, "you know, if
the signs were in English, you wouldn't know you were not in the US." We have food
from his country rather constantly (he's an excellent chef, thankfully), and this
helps a lot.

However, regarding nationality: he will *always* be a european, even after he is a
US citizen. I don't have a problem with that. When I met him and we fell in love,
he was a european, so why in the world would I want to change any of the things
that made him attractive to me in the first place? His nationality is a vital part
of who he is.

He has decided, however, that our living out here in the American sticks is a rather
favorable location, in consideration of the current (terrorist) state of things. He
says that it's a good place to hide, feels safer than he would in other places, he
told me. (having lived most of his life in cities)

Hubby has also become more and more comfortable here in the states, now that he
realizes that even his country is changing all the time. There is no perfect place in
this world, and there are no perfect people. We are all just wanderers who met our
loves and try to find an equitable place to survive while we live our lives together.
If that happens to be America, then so be it.

Give yourself some time. You will gradually become more content. That is my advice.
Do not dwell on what you cannot change: change what you can and be happy for life.
For life is all we have, and we have no guarantees of the length of it.

matta
 
Old Aug 9th 2002, 12:38 am
  #14  
Pussycat
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

Hi, Mike.

It's people like you who really publicise your country and make all sensible,
thinking Americans cringe, isn't it? It's loudmouths like you who make people like
me really want to emigrate to my husband's country cos, gee whiz, you just make us
all feel so damn welcome. With all the "foreigner bashing" that I see in the news
coming from the US lately, it makes me want to disappoint my American husband and beg
him to stay here instead of me emigrating just to be a sneered-at homesick foreigner
just so's he can go home.

My man has lived in the UK for years, he didn't become a citizen nor did anyone
expect him to - so what's so great about your country that it should be a
"requirement"?

Do you enjoy being America's ambassador in this way? Do you enjoy bringing your
country down with this sort of arrogant assumption that we should all salute a
foreign flag just because we reside in the country? What's wrong with respecting
your adopted country, keeping it's laws, integrating as much as you can and generally
not rocking the boat without having to become a citizen of it? No country on earth
is so wonderful that it'll stop someone being homesick.

It's a bit like going out to someone else's house for dinner. Respect and gratitude
for being invited is one thing, but you're not going to move in and adopt them as
your own family.

Then again, I suppose you don't get out much, do you?

Don't let the sarcasm hit you on the arse on the way back into your playpen.

-- cat





    > Hi All!
    > Well if you don't ever want to become a U.S. citizen and miss your "home country",
    > I suggest you go back.
    > I think it should be a requirement to live here that you at some point become a
    > U.S. citizen.
    > Don't let the Statute of Liberty hit in the ass on the way out.
    > Take care,
    > Mike
 
Old Aug 9th 2002, 12:38 am
  #15  
Steve
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Culture shock?

"Michael D. Young" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
    > Hi All!
    > Well if you don't ever want to become a U.S. citizen and miss your "home country",
    > I suggest you go back.
    > I think it should be a requirement to live here that you at some point become a
    > U.S. citizen.
    > Don't let the Statute of Liberty hit in the ass on the way out.
    > Take care,
    > Mike

Listen up there, sparky. One american to another. I think you should personally
apologize to each and every non-citizen permanent resident in America. You know, the
ones who "miss their home country". The ones who pay the taxes to feed and supply
America's military - the instrument of YOUR freedom, the ones who are "contributing"
their dollars to fight the war on terrorism, the ones who are paying their taxes to
educate your kids and put cops on your streets, the ones who are protecting your
ungrateful keester while you sit home, wave your flag and complain. AND they're doing
it without the right to vote for or against the SOBs in DC who made it so frustrating
to get to the US in the first bloody place.

Immigrants built "the land of the free" there, chuckles. Chinese, Irish, German,
Scottish...who do you think picks your strawberries, MBAs?? These people chose to
come to the US for a reason. They chose to live in the US for a reason. Chances are
extremely good someone in your family was an immigrant - are you going to tell me
they never spoke of "the old country"? Never missed it? Was just ecstatic every day
of their lives to be in the USA?? Whether they, or any immigrant alive misses their
country is irrelevant in light of what they've done for America in the past, and
they're doing for your whiney ass now. Now shut up, grow up, read history and put
down the flag.

And by the way, Captain America - the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France. And
I bet the Frenchman who supervised it's construction missed his country too.
 

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.