Despite living in London before for about two and half years, despite having a British husband, and despite visiting at least twice per year since I left in early 2011, everything in the UK upon my return seemed so new and foreign.
When I first arrived a little over a year ago, I would approach people at shops almost expecting them to speak in a different language, which, to be fair, the Brits kind of do. I felt like a bull in a China shop, with my American accent so pronounced and loud. I couldn’t remember how to get anywhere and I keep saying “EXCUSE ME” really loudly when I should say ‘pardon me’ when I need assistance. It seemed I’d lost all the social cues and norms I picked up the last time I lived here.
To add insult to injury, since I’ll be in the UK for the foreseeable future, I’ve had re-do all normal adult things, like get a bank account, get a mobile phone, and get a UK drivers license, etc. I’ve felt like a helpless newborn baby, given the amount of things I’ve been able to do on my own. My husband has had to accompany me, co-sign everything, or be the account holder. Good thing I like him so much.
I’m slowly making progress and reestablishing myself here. I’ll relearn everything I forgot in good time, I’ll understand and be able to speak the British way (did you know ‘arvo’ is another way of saying ‘afternoon?), and I’ll probably be one of those Americans who sound weird when they go back to the States to see family.
For now, I need to remember to say the letter ‘z’ as “zed” and not “zee”, remember that diapers and pacifiers are only words heard on US televisions shows, and maybe see how it feels to throw in the word “scrummy” into a sentence.