We found out this week that our stay in the US has been extended by at least another year – I knew there had to be a good reason why we didn’t get olympic tickets.
Overall, this is good news – we are definitely more settled into life here than we were a year, or even six months ago. Of course I still have pangs for home every so often – especially for a good curry, or our little house where everyday objects didn’t have so much space to get lost in, or a leisurely walk into our village centre.
Difficulties do still exist in everyday life and communication – such as ordering water in a restaurant, I just can’t bring myself to substitute the ‘t’ for a ‘d’. See this blog article for more language examples. I also don’t think I will ever understand the US voting system, or be able to turn right on a red light with total confidence that I am not doing something horribly wrong.
Seb’s current quest to become more like the other kids at school will be able to continue for at least another year. He is using more American phrases and I had to explain to him what a biscuit is and how at home we use a ‘rubbish bin’ and not a ‘trash can’. Memories of Melbourne and the UK are becoming more distant as he starts to create memories and form his view of life from this side of the Atlantic. His accent is slowly crossing over and is now probably about 50 miles west of Rockall.
His school had a cultural evening and we had great fun looking for pictures of England and Scotland and using his memories of home to create a poster that he is so proud of, he happily shows anyone who comes to the house. Favourite pictures include: The Night Garden, fish and chips, men in kilts and The Houses of Parliament (‘Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the king and parliament, mummy, but the soldiers found him’).
Although he does not know the UK national anthem or the US pledge, he can proudly belt out ‘Oh Canada’ – on the whole a good compromise. I should mention that this is a result of a school project his class is doing, and the choice of song is so popular that him and his class mates sung it at a recent birthday party instead of the more traditional ‘Happy Birthday’.
The autumn festivities are not passing us by anymore – we have been on hayrides, picked apples and decorated our front porch for Halloween. Of course this means that our pumpkin is now squashily making trails all over the front porch, but it will be removed by Thanksgiving.
Life over here is starting to feel eerily normal. I am finding British accents, be they southern, northern or scottish, feel different to my ears. The differences do take some adjusting to, similar to the way I once had to adjust my ears to american accents in films.
The streets look right. I am starting to take the yellow roadsigns for granted so much so that I think I will need a refresher course on the UK highway code – what does a UK stop sign look like, why do the number plates look so odd? Malls seem to be more logical than town/village centres. I am now able to walk into the supermarket and just focus on getting what I want and not become lost in the endless, previously bewildering, food choices. Most worryingly, I am starting to find it the norm to jump in the car and drive everywhere.
The logic of listening to news that is mainly local and US-focussed is also becoming clearer. The classic complaints about US media being too local and not having much international focus are fading with the realisation that in a country so big and complex, why do you need a huge amount of international items? Do I really want to know anything but the major news from around the world? I now get most of UK news items by listening to the News Quiz comedy podcast from Radio 4. If it’s good enough for Sandi et al… Working out listening to the podcast makes other people glance suspiciously as I laugh my head off to what seems to be uniquely British humour while pounding the running machine. They are so funny that I have to stop myself repeating the insightful comments about the women who stuffed a cat into a wheelie bin to the unsuspecting runner next to me.
Finally, I want to wrap up this entry with a plea to all of you at home, please send pictures, even just of the most mundane items, we need these to keep the sights and faces fresh in our minds!