Today is the 10-year anniversary of the day I moved to London. I know I say this every year, but it’s hard to believe how fast the time has gone. When I first arrived, I never expected to stay long enough to settle in, get British citizenship, and make a living writing a travel blog, but I’m so glad all those things have happened. And after 10 years of living in London, I’m finally starting to feel British. Well, kind of. And kind of not. Here’s why I’m torn…
10 Years of Living in London
In light of this big expat milestone, I’ve gotten introspective. I’ve realized there are a lot of things I’ve gotten used to about British culture without even being conscious of it. I’ve also found there are a lot of things I can’t quite adjust to. So in honor of my 10-year anniversary, here are 10 things from each category.
10 things that make me feel like I’ve become British:
1. I’ve started thinking 100 years isn’t a very long time, and that 100 miles is kind of far.
2. I get irritated when people don’t stand on the right on escalators, even outside the UK.
3. I once caught myself spelling color with a ‘u’.
4. I think it’s normal to eat fish for breakfast. Like really fishy fish.
5. I believe drinking 5 cups of tea a day is pretty standard. I think I’ve even done it once.
6. I get confused and uncomfortable when strangers talk to me, even when I’m back in California where it’s socially acceptable (and even polite).
7. I think it’s normal that hotels list electric kettles as amenities. I even look for it when booking. I haven’t brought my own tea bags with me…yet.
8. I get the whole royal thing now. If the Queen had a fan club, I would join it.
9. I once ate a hamburger with a knife and fork.
10. I like Marmite.
10 things that make me think I will never actually feel British:
1. I weigh 8 stone (it sounds so light!) and the metric system still baffles me.
2. I’m sad I will probably never see a tumble dryer again (my poor towels).
3. I can’t believe gout is still a common affliction here. My doctor even thought I had it once (turns out it was just a stubbed toe).
4. I still can’t fake an English accent (any of them) to save my life.
5. It continues to strike me as strange that collective nouns are pluralized.
6. I would take waffles over fish for breakfast any day. There. I said it.
7. I still feel guilty when I drink alcohol at lunch on a Tuesday, even when it’s only 1 glass.
8. I get giddy and feel like tap dancing whenever I catch a glimpse of Big Ben.
9. I photograph every red phone box I see. Every time. All of them.
10. I’m still in awe that I live in such an amazing city. How does London manage to keep surprising me after 10 years?
Following all my self-examination, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never feel fully British, but neither will I ever feel completely American again. That’s okay, though, because one of the best things about London is that there are people here from all over the world, and a lot of us experience this. So maybe that means I’m fully a Londoner now, at least in an expat sense. And I couldn’t be happier.
How about you? If you’re an expat, what have you gotten used to in your new country (and what haven’t you)?