Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The worst thing an expat can say or think

There's one thing an expat should never say or think. The trouble is that the thought can just creep up on you after a run of frustrations and set-backs. And expat life is often full of frustrations and set-backs:

You go to the British section of the local supermarket for some comfort food and they don't sell Ribena. What's that about? Did the USA ban blackcurrants or something? (Actually, they really did, once upon a time.)

You order something in a restaurant and the staff don't understand what you said, even though you technically speak the same language. You get bored of repeating yourself all the time and ask your husband to order instead. Your husband starts to think you have an irrational fear of saying "fries and a side salad" in public.

You're no longer a superstar parallel parker. Everything's backwards and you have to re-learn.

Then you crash your mother-in-law's car.

You're worried about getting sick, not because you don't have health insurance, but because you've just discovered that you can't buy Lemsip in the USA. Where do Americans get their soothing citrus flu placebo effects?

You learn that 3 out of 5 jobs listed on Craigslist probably don't exist, 1 out of 5 seems dodgy and is likely related to porn, and 1 out of 5 isn't a job but an 'unpaid internship' with the potential for a good reference. That's not even including the 'unpaid internship in burrito warfare' you didn't apply for because it involved dressing up as a giant taco and throwing food at people in the street (I'm not joking about this).

And then you think, or worse, you say out loud: I want to go home. 

That's the worst thing an expat can say.

And it's almost always followed by: Oh shit. I AM home.

To be fair, my section of the supermarket ain't too bad, but five bucks for a small bottle of Robinson's? Please… If the culture shock wasn't bad enough.


  1. The British section in our local store got rid of the fruit brown sauce, but for the rest of it it's pretty decent although I miss quavers more then anything. I know what you mean about talking, it's like they've never heard an English way of talking before so I just make Joe order everything and I go mute lol. Although i'm starting to wonder if my accent is slowly changing.

    1. I miss Rowntree fruit gums, and Robinson's fruit squash. Random.

      I'm under strict instruction not to change my accent!

  2. You get Bru! I remember when you couldn't get Bru in London.

    They don't make it there with that nasty corn syrup, do they?

    1. I 'think' it's imported, but next time I'm there I'll check. Corn syrup sodas are slimy. Do not like.

      We still have some pre-company-takeover Irn Bru bars in a drawer. Thought about selling them on ebay as collectors' items ;)

  3. I found your blog on Better Blogger Network and I love it! This post made me laugh. I've never even heard of Ribena before... now that I think about it, the grocery store I mostly go to doesn't even have a British food section. Anyway, love your blog. Keep it up :D


    1. Thanks for your comment! Ribena is a blackcurrant cordial type juice that you dilute with water. It's such a British thing it makes an appearance in the Estelle song American Boy!

      I'm not sure why our local supermarket does have a British section. We're in rural/suburban PA and I don't think there's a huge British population.