Christina and her family moved to the Rendlesham, England after her husband received a job transfer. After spending a few years there, they have returned to Oregon. She now shares the difficulties of moving to a new country with a family.
GXC: What was the hardest part about living in the UK?
I would say the hardest part about living in the UK was the social difference. In the Northwest, USA, people are on the surface very friendly and open to conversation even in the grocery store. Where we lived in the England that was not the case. You start conversations with talk about the weather – seriously! People are a lot more private, so it wasn’t unusual for people to avoid eye contact even walking down our quiet village street.
GXC: What did you miss most about the US?
What I missed most was friends. It was hard living there where I didn’t have anyone to talk through problems with or complain to except [my husband]. We also missed American food a lot! Steak, cereal, and Root Beer.
GXC: What is the biggest misconception about the England?
The biggest misconception for Americans is thinking that the UK is just a smaller US. They are are different country, with different values, and different social rules. They may be similar to us and that’s why there are such good relationships, but there are key differences.
GXC: What is one thing you wish people knew about the England?
It’s always said their food is rubbish, but their baked goods are divine!
GXC: What stereotypes have you encountered about England?
I lived a very secluded life, but Erwin and the boys encountered a lot. Erwin always got grief, in a playful way, about how late we were to the War. WWII. The boys at school received a lot of comments about how Americans were all obese.
GXC: What is the biggest lesson you learned living in England?
It was hard being middle age and going through such a cultural and life change. It took me a good year to be ok. Life there is a lot slower. There’s not the running around, always-staying- busy attitude. People took more time off, traveled, and ate at home.
This wasn’t the first lesson I learned, but the first. While at a park with the kids, I saw little kids climbing and jumping off things and playing like kids here did 35 years ago. There weren’t the very protected playgrounds where everything was safe. Parents stayed seated and when their kids fell or hurt themselves, they had them get up and stop crying. You’ll see that here some, but mostly there are very protective parents, who try to avoid having their child hurt at all. I think we miss out on teaching our children how to get over things and overcome obstacles by baby proofing their lives.
GXC: How has this experience changed your perspective on the world?
I think, as Americans we subconsciously feel like we are the all in all. Living there, I got to see the world is a lot bigger than just us. We play a role, but we’re not the end all. I also learned to really try and understand where others are coming from. I tried to approach people in a way that was respectful to them and their culture, and not to force myself and my ideas on how they act. As an example, instead of thinking it was rude of them not to say hello or being friendly when walking down the street in my village, I evaluated myself. I made sure I wasn’t being rude to them by invading their space and going against their culture. I was in their country.