Friday, May 10, 2013

10 Reasons Why It's Great Being A British Expat in the USA

For all the differences between Britain and the United States, one thing remains a universal truth: there are many tangible benefits to becoming an expat either side of The Pond. Whether you're a British expat living in America or vice versa, your social and professional lives will likely improve by upward of 150% - largely because you have a phenomenally brilliant accent. In the first of a two-part post, here are 10 reasons why it's great being a British expat in the United States.

1. Everyone thinks you're really intelligent
For whatever reason, the British accent - whatever the form - somehow acts as an indicator to most Americans that you are inherently blessed with untold knowledge and wisdom. Brits should always use this to its utmost potential,  particularly during academic debates in which you do not know all the facts.

2. Lots of people find you attractive
Even if you are the least remarkable human on the face of the planet, as soon as you open your mouth, you've practically sealed yourself a date for Friday night. That said, with great power comes great responsibility: use this advantage sparingly, as it's no fun dating someone who wants you only for your accent.

3. You get lots of free stuff
It's true! Whether it's a free bus ticket or a waiver on an overdraft fee, if you say the right things to the right people with the right accent, you can often get by without spending a penny. Just don't push your luck: the IRS cannot hear your accent on those tax returns.

4. No one ever gets angry with you
It doesn't matter what you say or do, Americans won't get angry with you. Ever. You might have killed the family pet or set an entire street on fire: as long as all parties agree that your voice is majestic, you'll be fine. That said, if you are the CEO of, say, a major British oil company, you may want to stay away from the folks in Louisiana.

5. People gravitate toward you
In a manner that you've probably never experienced before, some Americans will make you the centre of their universe in an effort to listen to that "wonderful voice of yours." This differs from number 2 in that the attraction is not necessarily romantic in nature, but rather born out of a genuine, almost obsessive interest in British culture. Beware: if the words you, family, the, know, Royal, and do leave such a person's mouth, it might be time to walk away.

6. People are happy to follow your lead
This ties in with number 1. Instinctively believing that you, the British person, are cerebrally advantaged in every way, some Americans will unquestionably follow your every command. This is a particularly useful benefit when working, for example, as a supervisor, presiding over the combined productivity of 75 American workers. However, be on your guard: productivity may plummet if numbers 2 and 5 are allowed to happen.

7. You get to talk about British comedy. A lot.
This might be the greatest reason of all: aside from re-enacting every scene from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Americans love to gauge your opinion on other comedic heavyweights, such as Fawlty Towers, Absolutely Fabulous, and The Office. The only downside to such conversations is that certain comedies - such as Alan Partridge, Blackadder, and Spaced - never really caught on in the States.

8. You can explain away your odd habits by insisting: "it's a British thing"
We all have them: habitual tendencies that other people find odd, annoying, or down-right confusing. Perhaps you like to grind your teeth, or wash dishes in the bathroom sink. Maybe you laugh aloud at funny moments in a book, or talk all the way through a film. Whatever it is, you, the British expat, always have an ace up your sleeve: just tell everyone it's a British thing. They'll understand.
 
9. You may or may not have to try as hard at job interviews
We all know that job interviews can be daunting things. Knowing what to say and how to say it - especially in the cut-throat business world of America - is often an unspeakably difficult proposition. Unless, that is, you are British. In this case, all you really have to do is show up, say a few words - coherent or otherwise - and the position is yours. Easy.

Note: okay, so it's a little more complicated than that, but still...

10. Even your worst jokes get a laugh
Remember that really terrible gag every kid used to tell at school back in the Eighties? You know, the knock, knock joke about Dr. Who? Well, it's still considered a really funny joke among American Whovians, especially if its deliverer bears the same accent as the joke's eccentric protagonist. Whatever you do, though, don't break out the one about why the beach was wet. Americans don't get it.

Sometimes, it's better hearing me in a British accent. Click the red button below.


Laurence Brown is a British man writing his way through the truly bizarre world of America - a place he sometimes accidentally calls home and a place he still hasn't quite figured out after seven years. Thankfully, his journey is made 12% easier by the fact that his accent makes him sound much smarter than he is. For evidence of this, subscribe to his popular Lost in the Pond web series over on YouTube.

14 comments:

EmmaK said...

Expat mum said...

What? I don't think I've ever got(ten) anything free in the 23 years I've been here. Must try harder.

Lesley said...

Driving through MacDonald's used to be so maddening to me when I first arrived in the US, I would be asked to repeat my order several times while hearing quite whispers in the background. ie, listen to this etc.

Melissa S. said...

You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

I had a 73 year old British professor of anatomy and physiology when I was in nursing school. Whenever he spoke, the girls swooned. I used to meet him at his other job (Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC) for dinner sometimes. No matter what restaurant we were at, when John spoke, all the women turned to see who it was. He called it his "magic trick" and got endless amusement out of it. It also got him laid in spades when he was younger. Gotta love an Englishman in New York!

Anonymous said...

All true, especially #1.

Carolyn said...

Anyone (American or otherwise) who claims to love British comedy and has never seen Blackadder is a total fraud. They are Thick Jack Clot who Sits in the Stocks and Gets Pelted with Rancid Tomatoes. Avoid these people at all costs. The same goes for people who love Benny Hill.

Anonymous said...

I luv " Blackadder"! Where i live, is St. louis Mo., our public television station use to show it. When they couldn't afford to buy any more episodes, they'd stopped airing it! Pissed me off!

Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm British and so I have to ask having never tried the joke on an American: Why on earth would Americans not get the joke ''Why was the sand wet?'' (A- because the sea weed)?!?

Laurence Brown said...

Because they don't usually use the term "wee'd" (as in urinated), but rather "pee'd."

Kimberly B. said...

The dark side of #2 is that naive Anglophiles (*cough cough*) automatically assume that anyone with a charming accent is also a good, moral, kind, truthful, trustworthy, upstanding person, and never a womanizing sociopath, cf., Russell Brand.

Anonymous said...

Sadly not true...when I order a burger I get a cheese sandwich. I have been married 10 years and my yankee wife says I have a "fake British accent". At the bowling alley, they say "I know you are speaking English but I cant understand you". I have a clear and distinct slightly Northern accent (Ilkley), and I have been here 8 years, but to no avail. The locals avoid me in case I am a socialist. French is the one to have - knocks em bandy !

Squidgy said...

I'm an American and our perception of your accent is completely true. I don't know what I would do if I was ever around more than one British person. The thought of being in London with ALL those British accents makes my head swirl.

Connie Tucker said...

When I was a very young social worker, I had a British client in his 80s. He was so charming (and I am such a sucker for a British accent), I would check on him on my way home from work each day. We remained friends until his death. I still have a long distance friendship with his daughter in the UK.

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