Understanding America from the Outside

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Being removed from American soil, where I have lived the majority of my life, has given me a new understanding of my label of “American.” In the academic setting, my American Foreign Policy module has forced me to think of the United States in a whole new context. One of the first questions posed to the class was: Is or was the United States an empire? When I hear the word empire, I think about the British during the 17th century, certainly not my home country which started out as part of that British Empire. The class’s discussion leaned more towards the notion that the United States was an empire, even today! The short colonization of the Philippines and Cuba are discussed; however, the main point of discussion was that the United States is a militaristic empire today. In 150 countries the U.S. has active duty military troops. For the argument of an American empire, this fact shows that there is an official American presence almost everywhere.

My absolute favorite way of learning about my country through my time here has to be talking to my new friends and classmates. I have learned the over arching thoughts about my country just from these interactions alone. During the conversations I have found: 1. Guns or Obama will, at some point, be topics of conversation. 2. We are seen as incredibly friendly (sometimes exceedingly so). 3. The U.S. prices of clothes, food, and any other goods are considered dirt cheap.

In the process of writing this blog post on about being an American in England, I am beginning to remind myself of little things I miss from the good ole U S of A. In the shops and stores here, no one comes up to you and asks if you are need any help, nor does the cashier ask if you found everything okay, nor do they say “have a good day!” or make chit-chat.  It is surprising how much I miss the little, super-friendly interactions each day with strangers.  Another small cultural tidbit I miss is the dollar bill, oddly enough! Here the smallest denomination of paper currency is a £5 note! I need to get used to the £1 and £2 coins, because that’s a lot of money (especially for a college student)! I simply cannot write off the coins as petty change as I would back home.

The British coins come in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, and £2, and the smaller valued ones hold a special secret that I only recently discovered! When all are placed in a certain arrangement they complete the image of the Coat of Arms in the United Kingdom.

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As I’ve written before I feel like I am learning new words each and every single day. Here’s yet another list of vocabulary from across the pond:

Quid: a term than can be used interchangeably with the unit of currency ‘pound’. For example, if an item is marked £20.00 can say that it costs twenty quid.

Tea: this means what you think it means, but in addition to being a hot beverage it is your dinner. Example: What are you having for tea? Oh just fixing myself some vegetables and potatoes.

Eggy bread: French toast!

“x”or “xx”: Usually found at the end of a text message or Facebook message; meant to mean a kiss, but it is not necessarily romantic. This mark can just be friendly.

Courgette: Zucchini

Aubergine: Eggplant

Squash: a very popular, usually fruity liquid that is added to water.

The adventure went to the seaside this past week! Specifically, I traveled to the seaside towns of Sheringham and Hemsby. Both towns were beautiful, but held an eerie presence. They are very unusual compared to the beaches of New Jersey. The first two pictures are of Hemsby and the third and fourth are of Sheringham.

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Can you see the wind turbines out at sea? They really contributed to the eerie, but serene feeling at these British seaside towns.

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Thank you for reading!

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