Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fears of the Anglophile

Just a second ago, I forced my dad out of my room. We were watching Conan together, but I realized it's already nearly 8:30 in the evening and my friends asked me to hang out with them tonight, so if I still want to have the chance at seeing them this evening I have to get going on this thing.

As he was walking out of my room, I said "I have no idea what to write about" to my dad and of course he made some random joke of a remark saying, "Write about how you're an American." He was being facetious of course. That's just his comedic style. But he touched on something that is worth talking about - the fact that I've been born in America, but for some reason possess this undying love for other cultures.

This fall I'm going to be finally living abroad for more than a couple of weeks. I've made my plane reservations, found out my living accommodation, started planning what classes I'll be taking and voila - it's to London I go.

This transition has made me think a lot about what I want out of life, and how I feel about being an American.

Because, you see, for a long time I've felt alienated by this country. While in certain circumstances I'm surrounded by like-minded people, very often I find that the American culture is promoted by a spirit that I just don't possess. It's this kind of childish, self-absorbed and self-contained notion of nationhood that I just can't wrap my head around.

So when I think about the general humbleness of the English people, it makes me despair at being brought up in a country that is so prideful and occasionally short-sighted.

Soon I'll be heading out on a plane, not only flying across an ocean, but over an entire country of history, both general and personal. I'm leaving behind what I know best and trying to find my way in a land that I know in some ways, but is also very foreign to me in other ways.

I've heard stories of people trying to make it in foreign countries and finding out that perhaps they're just not so prepared. It's a learning experience. Even Emma Watson was on some talk show once (I forget which one) and talked about her first year at Brown University living in a dorm. Even asking for an eraser or a bandage from a fellow dorm resident would mean trying to translate from British English to American English. You'd think since there isn't a language barrier there wouldn't be any issue, but surprisingly there is.

I have a lot of faith in myself and my Anglophilia that my desire to live in England permanently after college won't be tested by the next three months of my life. But in my heart I also fear that I might be reminded why America is a comfortable, however difficult place to live for me.

The thing about this enormous country is that no matter where you go, it sort of feels like home. The retail stores are relatively similar, the dialects and the slang don't change much from place to place, the products and all the general amenities are expected. There's not much to stun or surprise when moving from place to place within America.

But even going abroad to a country that is incredibly like your own can be frightening and strange. And staying there for a long time can be a bit daunting.

As my travels to London approach, I've been thinking a lot about how I plan to transition once I get to the country. How can I find the equivalent of a Target Superstore in the city? What do I do if I need to see a doctor? Should I buy clothes in the city or pack my whole closet?

There's so much to think of.

At some point I'm just going to have to let go. I think that's what scares me the most. That the uptight me is going to have to enter a new country by myself and learn to survive in an environment that is not only foreign to me figuratively, but quite literally.

Maybe I'm making too big a deal out of this. England is, after all, a relatively similar country to America. But even where surface similarities exist, temperaments may differ. I only hope mine meshes well with the Brits. And I guess more than anything, I'm excited to see how being an American makes me either a welcome citizen or a social pariah when I get there.

No comments:

Post a Comment