Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Is it really that different?!"

The British vs. American cultures, I mean.

This has become my least favourite question to hear.

Yes. It is.

I can't tell you what a temptation this question is to me. I immediately have to start talking to myself. "It's ok. They don't know."

I spoke with someone this week who went away as a family for 9 months and then came back. They were told, that it would take them a year to adjust to being back "home." With relational changes, changes in themselves, etc.

I can't tell you how freeing and helpful that was to hear. I was gone 16 months. And in another country, too. There is grace to adjust slowly. I don't have to pretend. Or tell others I'm "there." Nope. I'm here. Weak. Confused a lot of the time. Mis-communicating with everyone and their mother. And NOT adjusted to America yet. And yes, I spent 22 1/2 years of my life here.

As I sat around eating brownies with some friends tonight, I began to see a glimpse of just HOW British I became while away. To hear their confusion/slight frustration with my short and abrupt answers to their questions made me chuckle. I remember feeling that way about everyone else!

I watched them begin to process this new "me" I guess you could say. More reserved. Quiet. Not free to express my opinion unless asked. They asked lots of questions. And seemed so perplexed.

I can't imagine how hard it is for them. I didn't just "go away" and then "come back." No. I went to another world. I became part OF that world. And now I'm back but I'm an alien. That's what it feels like.

I can't explain to you what its like to adjust culturally. It's beyond words. I can't paint a picture for you of the various cultures...you have to see for yourself.

What I CAN tell you is: There's grace. Grace when I feel mis-heard. Mis-understood. Sad and not able to detect exactly why. Just really craving tea and biscuits. Missing British humor and being so un-impressed with American wit.
etc. etc.

Thank you for your prayers. I need them.
My transition is going so much smoother having had Jo visit. She helped in ways that...oh man. I can't even describe. Our constant cultural conversations. Her observations and thoughts after interactions in a group...invaluable wisdom.

Thank you, Jo. Miss you.

1 comment:

justyns35@hotmail.com said...

I haven't been reading your blog long. Just curious to know what was the purpose of all your traveling?

No doubt it's different between the U.S. and the U.K. No doubt we also have common bonds....common law, the anglo mindset which is vastly different from the german-franco mindset, and those stupid tabloids. On a personal level social interactions are vastly different. Not to mention cultural norms.

Is there anything about American culture that you liked? What about in the American churches you attended?

It's funny from what you write it seems being reserved is respected in the U.K., but not so much in the U.S.