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Moving to the United States is a lot like attending school for the first time: there’s a new lingo to learn; a certain dress code to acknowledge; a list of rules to follow. Moreover, the food is not what you are used to and—until the first conversation has taken place—everyone is a stranger.
It is possible, therefore, that you might experience a degree of anxiety ahead of your transplant across the Atlantic. Whether you are moving for a spouse, for work, or for education, getting cold feet can happen to the best of us.
If you do get apprehensive, there are some very important measures you can take to put your mind at ease.
Chief among these is conversation—be willing to talk to the other person (or people) involved in your move. For me, it helped to talk things through with my American wife, who—through her own experiences of working and living in the United States—was able to put my concerns into perspective.
On the other hand, if your move doesn’t involve other people or you just want some tips on what needs doing once you arrive, do some research of your own. There are plenty of resources on the internet, including James Bartlett’s 12 Essential Websites for British Expats in America. Remember that knowledge is power. The more you know about your destination, the more your apprehension will recede.
While weighing up your options, try to concentrate on the positive aspects of your move. For instance—and it’s easy to take this for granted—you are unlikely to encounter an insurmountable language barrier. Though there are countless word differences and accent variations with which you may not yet be familiar, the predominant language in the U.S. is the one you have spoken all your life—albeit with bells and whistles.
The similarities, meanwhile, do not end with the language. While sloppy joe sandwiches and pumpkin pie are as American as they come, most food items bear more than a passing resemblance to those of the British ilk. For every U.K. delicacy (I use that term both lovingly and ironically) that is absent from America’s food vernacular, there are many foods—from meat and potatoes, to salads and veg—that are fairly reminiscent of those back home.
Of course, it’s all good and well trying to stave off your anxieties by sticking to what you know, but adopting the various idiosyncrasies of American life can also be a rich and liberating experience. The United States—a nation noted for its apparently confident and direct people—has had a profound influence on my own outlook since moving here in 2008. In short, try to see your move across the Pond as a chance to broaden your horizons.
Indeed, while you are busy discovering all that is different about America, know that Americans will be busy discovering everything that is different about you. And this can be a good thing. Because the United States is seemingly replete with Anglophiles, you might just become the subject of both their inquisition and their admiration. With your “awesome accent” and “wonderfully dry sense of humor” at the ready, you’ve practically ensured an immediate new circle of friends. Well done.
And so, if you are brave enough to take the plunge and willing enough to give the U.S. a chance, your so-called first day at school might evolve into some of the best days of your life. Who knows, if you like it enough to stay, you might one day find yourself—like me and my fellow expatriates—passing on wisdom to the new kids.
When’s your move date?
View all posts by Laurence Brown.