Before leaving for a new life in America, I believed that moving here would be easy. Over the last two months I’ve found the adjustment to be anything but.
Numerous people back home told me how envious they were about my moving to America. To them, the idea of living in the USA reminds them of past holidays. Great food, good weather, good beer, cheap shopping. No worries.
I’ve felt the same way myself in the past. On a few occasions when visiting America I’ve thought, “Man, I’d love to live here.” But living in a country and visiting it are completely different matters.
I’ve done a lot of travelling and have lived and worked in five countries (including the UK), so moving to another country seemed like it would be no big deal. However I failed to really comprehend how isolated I would be in the new country and how much harder it is to move to a place permanently.
In a way, I’ve been going through the classical stages of culture shock. Arriving in America, I was so excited. Here was this new place with so much potential. I was seeing my girlfriend, who I hadn’t seen in 7 months. Moving to a place with lots of delicious food. With plenty of doughnuts! (I love doughnuts.) Plus the weather is so much better than in England. Over thirty degrees every day!
After a few weeks, reality started to kick in. It was about then that I started to comprehend that I had moved to America. I wasn’t on holiday. I’ve now found myself in the stage of culture shock where I basically get angry about everything that I think is wrong with a country.
Sorry America, you’re not perfect. Actually I’m of the belief that nowhere is perfect. Just when you’ve been living in a place long enough to call it home, you’ve kind of resigned yourself to its imperfection.
England is stereo-typically thought of as a place with terrible weather. Which is true, it is terrible. But everybody in the country has resigned themselves to the weather. It’s not going to change, so why bother to get annoyed about it. Which is how most negative things are thought of when you live somewhere. You just get used to the fact that Summer lasts for a week in Northern England.
But in Florida, the weather can easily drive me into an irrational rage. How is it possible for any place on earth to be so hot? What was I thinking when I got excited about 30 degree weather? Why the fuck did anybody decide to live here in the first place? Surely the first settlers didn’t have air conditioning? Why didn’t they just immediately decide, “You know what, we’ll go somewhere that is actually bearable to live.” I doubt anybody back then was saying, “Yeah, but guys, there’s tons of beaches and theme parks!”
The weather is just one of a long list of my teething issues. In the past, I’ve had these same issues in other countries. Usually I would tell myself that most of these things are quite material thing and don’t matter too significantly. The fact that you can’t buy decent bread or cheese in a country, shouldn’t be enough to lead to a mental breakdown. I would tell myself that I was just homesick and would feel better in a few days. Eventually I would be going home so it didn’t matter anyway. One day I’d be eating proper cheese!
It’s harder to put myself at ease in America. I’ve come to realise there may be no going home, that this place is my home now. It’s depressing. My home will be a place without nice cheese and sherbet lemons. I now live in a place where a waitress looks blankly at me when I ask for an English Breakfast Tea. Where that same waitress instead brings me an Earl Grey not knowing the difference. Have I made a huge mistake in moving here?
I know these are petty grievances. But please, take me back to England where it rains scones and snows clotted cream. Where there are no problems and life is as it always has been.
Yes, ok, I concede that England has its problems too. That for every Donald Trump there’s a Boris Johnson. That life in England isn’t perfect. I know it’s not perfect. In fact, I’ve always struggled to be happy in England. But regardless of that, it is my home.
I’m not a big fan of nationalism or patriotism in general. As I’ve said, nowhere is perfect, so being proud of your country often seems to be the same as ignoring its issues. However, I love England and am proud to be English (vomit!). England is a big part of me, you can’t spend over 25 years in a country without enjoying some things about it. Although I know my ideas of England are based on nothing more than nostalgia and happy memories.
One day, I’m sure I’ll adjust to life in the states. It’s inevitable that I will resign myself to the weather, reliance on driving and strip malls as far as the eye can see. I’ll buy a bald eagle and a giant gas guzzling monster truck. I’ll have a gun and I won’t feel weird when standing up for the national anthem at baseball games – which at this point seems kind of strange to me.
I’ll go on a trip to England and I’ll think, “Look at these people with their tiny houses and tiny plates of food. England is too small for me. Why is this scone so miniscule? What do you mean you only sell tea!? I want coffee or a Bud Light and nothing else will do. It costs how much for gasoline?! What do you mean I’ve got to walk somewhere, why the hell can’t I drive! Somebody get my gun, I’m pissed. Hold on, you don’t have guns! For fuck sake. Well, at least I can still get a burger from McDonalds…WHAT?! Jamie Oliver has banned burgers!? Urgh. I’m going back to the land of the free. Fuck this.”