British Expats: 10 Unexpected Consequences of Emigrating

Prepare yourself for a transformation when you move to the U.S. (Photo via Maison Du Monde)

Prepare yourself for a transformation when you move to the U.S. (Photo via Maison Du Monde)

I suspected moving abroad would have some weird side effects, but there are some repercussions I’d have dismissed as absurd if you’d told about them in advance. Things like these:

Family members are always visiting
Somehow, I see my parents more now than I ever did when they lived a 40-minute tube ride away. They’re always here, in Brooklyn, demanding to be shown a good time and complaining about the hipsters.  r, I’m back in London sleeping in their spare room, grumbling like teenager and eating all their food.

I put on 20 pounds
Don’t kid yourself: joining a gym and eating at home a lot will not save you from a certain amount of scales-related grief when you emigrate to the U.S. The problem is, food manufactures hide sugar in everything from “healthy” multi-grain bread to those ten-dollar pouches of “all natural” granola.

I miss Jeremy Paxman
Believe it or not, there will come a time when the mere memory of the presenter doing his best Rottweiler impression gives you a throat lump and prickly tear ducts. You’ll also start replaying episodes of Loose Women in your head and humming the Embarrassing Bodies theme tune in the supermarket.

I crave American food when I’m back home
If you’re at all health-conscious, you’ll spend much of your U.S. shopping time trying to avoid buying products steeped in sugar, antibiotics and hormones. But head back to Blighty and, like a crack fiend in rehab, you’ll find yourself craving crispy bacon (siphoned from pigs with three heads) sandwiched between slices of fructose-pumped bread.

I join groups
If you’re like me, you’ve spent your entire adult life refusing to get involved with any kind of enforced socializing. You might think it’s possible to take this comfortingly sneery attitude with you to your new life in a new land where you know no one, but it’s not. You will become a joiner. And you’ll bloody well like it too.

I’m forgetting the British words for things
I was perusing strollers on Amazon the other day when it occurred to me that they might cheaper in the U.K., so perhaps I should get my parents to bring one over on one of their 90 or so annual visits. Only, I couldn’t look into this because I forgot the British word for stroller (pushchair). I’m expecting to have my passport revoked any day now.

I can go weeks without feeling homesick
I assumed the longing for all things British — the people, the places, the attitude — would never wear off. And it probably won’t entirely. But now, nearly two years in, I can go for several consecutive weeks without once wishing I was back home munching Marmite crumpets.

British politics looks silly and small-time
American lawmaking impacts a population roughly six times the size of Britain’s (I’m just counting domestic policies here). So, I can’t help but be more concerned with what goes on in the U.S. than back in little ol’ Blighty.

Flying long haul is easy
A six-to-eight hour flight to or from the U.K. used to feel like an epic voyage filled with snarling officials and incomprehensible cardboard forms. Now, it feels like hopping on a bus for half an hour.

I’m happy to complain about stuff
My pre-U.S.-dwelling self would have rather stuck forks in her knees than send something back in a restaurant. Now, not only will I complain vigorously, I’ll enjoy it. I’ve even publicly nitpicked back in the UK and let the resulting snarls bounce right off my newly thickened skin.

How has moving to America impacted you, expats? Tell us below:

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.

See more posts by Ruth Margolis