What Americans Do Wrong, From a Brit


By Charlie Rosgen

Five months ago I was in  a British international school in Hong Kong filled with people who sounded like me, people who spelled like me, people who understand the concept of sarcasm. Now every single time I open my mouth someone has to mention that I am from “across the pond” or that I’m not from “around here.” Yes I get it, I’m a foreigner.

Don’t get me wrong, being British in America has its perks. I know what proper Cadbury’s chocolate tastes like, I know the joys of getting a bag of prawn cocktail crisps; say it-  I know you want to correct me.  However, there are just a few dozen things that aggravate me about being British in America.

1. The Royal Family: Now I’m not saying the Royal Family sucks—I mean they are the face of the United Kingdom—but that does not in any way mean I know them. I don’t ask you if you know Obama, so what makes you think I know the Queen?

2.  Color vs. Colour: I’m not going to waste my time and energy fighting you on this. I’m just saying, you speak English, so shouldn’t you spell it the way the English do?

3. When you select a language and the American flag is next to “English”: First of all, no. Second of all, no. Forgive me if I am wrong, but last time I checked American isn’t  a language.

4. NO,  I am not from Australia: Yes, I understand the shock of hearing an accent from somewhere other than the U.S. is an insanely hard concept to grasp, but there are some 9,443 miles between Australia and the U.K. I am flattered that you would think I was  cool enough to be a surfer or a kangaroo-loving hippie. If you took just 30 seconds you would understand that the accents are worlds apart, literally.

5. Asking someone how their weekend was or how they are just to be polite: As much as I love to hear about the episode of “Making a Murderer” you watched, I was just being polite. Rude though it may sound, when a Brit asks another Brit how their weekend was the response is usually under three syllables.

6. Attempting to mock my accent: Yes, I get it, I’m British and I even have a passport to prove it. And yes, it is extremely entertaining  for me to watch you attempt my accent and fail miserably but you would be surprised just how quickly it gets old. Very old.

7. Dates: WHY? It makes no sense to go month/day/year. America is the only place that does it like that. Going day/month/year makes tons more sense, smallest to largest not medium, smallest, then largest.

8. Finding out that I am British then telling me that you know someone who is British: There are roughly  59 million people in the UK, so no, I am terribly sorry to tell you that I don’t know your best friend’s uncle’s cousin’s dog. I know it’s coming from a good place, and you are trying to make me comfortable but  I am 110 percent comfortable being different.

9. “Top Gear”: Do not even get me started. British “Top Gear” trumps American “Top Gear” and always will. End of conversation.

10. British slang: When I say something outside American vocab books, just accept it. I’m not going to—and shouldn’t have to—change the way I say something or change it so you can understand it.  I say queue not line so get over it. If you don’t like that I say meters instead of miles then jog on.

11. Geography: Learning about what is around you is so incredibly valuable. I understand that learning about tectonic plates and how sand dunes are formed can be tedious and boring but isn’t it worth it? This is our planet and if we don’t start learning about it, we are screwed. How will our kids know to go to higher ground in a tsunami?

Having said all that, I love all the crazy questions Americans come up with, and being British gives me an immediate conversation starter. Being a foreigner with an unusual childhood in an area where  people have lived in the same house on the same street, their entire lives gives me a completely a different perspective on everything around me. People keep referring to my move as a “culture shock” as if I am some supernatural being; I am just like you. I was lucky enough to grow up in a culture and a place where I wasn’t living in my own bubble. On my traffic-filled drive to school in Hong Kong I saw a different culture on every street corner. And now, that I am here and can experience all America has to offer: Costco, uniform-free schools, and of course, Netflix.