It took me a while to follow up on Geo’s excellent suggestion, but I finally started to sit down with members of my family to get their thoughts on living in England and being back in America.
First up, the teen.
Burlaki [back] on the Hudson: So, what did you like the most about England?
Becky: Public transportation, definitely. I also liked the fact that people there are more accepting of differences, say, in personal style. I liked the British music a lot. And the food.
B: Oh, I don’t mean the English food. But there is definitely more variety there, of all of the different types of food from all over the world.
B[b]otH: Anything you did not like?
B: The weather is kinda boring there – pretty much one season all year long. It was very annoying that shops closed at 5pm… I can’t think of anything else… At some point I disliked the school uniforms – I think they’re nice now. At some point I did not like how the school system worked – I don’t mind it now…
B[b]otH: All right. Now you’re back in America. What do you like most about being back?
B: Seeing my family and friends again… No uniforms in school… I think the school is actually a bit easier, because we have the same subjects every day… Weather is nicer in general – or more “changing”…
B[b]otH: And what do you not like?
B: It’s far away from all the nice countries that you can visit! And there is no public transport, so you people have to drive me everywhere.
B[b]otH: Three years living in England – good or bad?
B: There were some good things and some not so good ones, but it was a good experience.
B[b]otH: If you could do it again, would you?
B: Yeah! [enthusiastically nods]
B[b]otH: When you grow up, will you go and live in Europe again?
B: Most definitely!
B[b]otH: Which country?
B: I’ll put them all in a hat… put the pieces of paper with the names in a hat and pull one out… and if I don’t like that one, I’ll pick up a different one.
B[b]otH: Say, you come up with Albania…
B: I don’t think so. It would be a country like Italy, maybe England, maybe Spain, but I do not like Spanish anymore…
B[b]otH: Ok, your old friends, do they show any interest in the fact that you lived in England for several years? Do they ask about it?
B: Yes, they find it very interesting, and so do all my new friends. My “accent” starts up many conversations on its own.
B[b]otH: You view it as a positive or are you annoyed?
B: It’s a great positive! “Hello” – “Hello” – “Oh my goodness! You’re British!!!”.
B[b]otH: [laughs] What’s your most vivid experience of the years that you lived in England?
B: Probably, all the school trips that I went to… You know, China, Iceland, France a few times, Switzerland… It was all good!
B[b]otH: Not the trips with the family?
B: The family trips too, but there is something special about going with your friends, with only teachers being there… You can’t really ignore your parents the way you can ignore teachers!
On that interesting thought, we adjourned to watch the latest recorded episode of Lie to Me.
Expat Topic, Re-pat's culture shock