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A Union Jack teapot might just be an essential purchase for a British expat in America. (Photo: Fotolia)
A Union Jack teapot might just be an essential purchase for a British expat in America. (Photo: Fotolia)
A Union Jack teapot might just be an essential purchase for a British expat in America. (Photo: Fotolia)

So we come over here and assimilate nicely (so we think), but there are some things we British expats find ourselves doing that may raise American eyebrows anyway. Half the time we’re not even conscious of our oddities.

Watching old British television shows just to get a taste of the Mother country.
Many of them we never watched back in Blighty or, worse, we thought them utter tripe, but watching those funny little cars driving on the other side of that British-looking road, or seeing people popping down the pub, just warms the cockles.

Eating British food we’d never touch in the U.K.
When I first land in England, I’m a sucker for a flaky Cornish pasty or a decent Ploughman’s, but it doesn’t become my daily diet. Access to British food in the U.S., however, has me stocking up on sausage rolls, Jammie Dodgers and Flakes as if they were going out of fashion.

Changing our speaking voice at the drop of a hat (or the ring of a phone).
Even though most people say my accent hasn’t changed, my kids can always tell when I’m on the phone to the U.K. Before we know it we’re “cor blimey-ing” or “fortnighting” all over the place.

Staying “friends” with Brits on social media simply because, well, they’re British.
I do like chatting with Brits online, but every once in a while I find myself dealing with someone who, to be honest, I’d throw a pint over in real life. (Hint: Remember that you can virtually walk away, just as you would in real life.)

Meeting Brits for coffee or drinks we’d probably avoid in the U.K.
In my life B.C. (before children), I was a member of a few British groups and generally had an okay time. Every so often though, I’d look around and ask myself if we’d all be pally in the U.K., since ninety per cent of the time, the only thing we had in common was our passport.

Offering tea as a show of sympathy, support or celebration.
It’s what you do, isn’t it? Received bad news? I’ll put the kettle on. Had a long day? Let’s have a cuppa. Won the lottery? Definitely calls for a nice pot of Rosie Lee. It’s not even the tea itself; it’s the ritual of sitting down and connecting with someone over a steaming mug. Not sure Americans get it though; they just think we drink a lot of tea!

Adopting American vocabulary with the exception of one single, solitary word.
For reasons beyond me, some Brits come here and steadfastly refuse to speak American English. I have never had a problem speaking the native English—except for “tomato.” I manage the American versions of “basil,” “oregano” and “yogurt” (sometimes), but the one word that won’t come out as anything other than 100% British is “tomato.” When I try the American version, I embarrass myself.

Starting conversations with complete strangers we suspect might be British.
Only last week, a Brit friend of mine said she was standing behind someone who sounded Welsh and she’d “wanted to say something but then chickened out.” Often, though, we wait for the right moment, make sure we sound as British as possible and hope to goodness they don’t think we’re Australian.

Buying stuff with flags on.
Although the Union Jack and other patriotic graphics have become much more popular in the U.K. recently, I’m still fairly sure Brits at home don’t wear as much Brit gear as Brits abroad. Raise your hand if you have a “themed” room in your house. Thought so. Last summer, I bought myself a great pair of Union Jack TOMS, but I won’t be packing them for my trip home this year.

Stalking someone in the store we think might be British.
Come on, many of us have done this, especially if we live in remoter places where Brits are a novelty. It’s not that we’re necessarily going to say anything (although we often do, see above), we just want to find out why another Brit might be in our local dairy aisle.

See also:
5 Strange Things That Happen to Brits in America
6 Old U.S. TV Shows Brits in America Should Know
10 Things That Will Make a Homesick Brit Sob – and How To Cope

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Filed Under: British Expats
By Toni Hargis