Secret Expat Behavior: Funny things being an expat makes you do

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Being an expat is funny sometimes. If you’re a Yank like me, maybe you’ve lived in Europe a few times, traveled a bunch and always imagined you’d end up there. But as I say all the time, the dream and the reality are usually like neighbors living in a big city that never meet, or something like that.

The good news is, I’m finally getting my expat legs. I’m starting to really feel at home here in Puigpunyent, Mallorca and can appreciate my life here for what it is, knowing I may not be able to forever, and should enjoy the experience while I can. After all, who knows where the wind will blow us next.

That said, I still MISS THE U.S. LOTS. In fact, I miss things I never even used to like, just because they’re American and remind me of being back State side. Here is an example of the funny way expat life has changed me:

AMERICA THE CHATTY-FUL. YOU know what I’m talking about. You can hear them above all ambient noise and chatter and they sound so self-important it’s enough to make you barf. I should know, I used to be one of them. Anyhoo, now every time I hear an American accent, it’s all I can do not to run up to the person (of any age,) jump into their arms, give them a big wet smooch and ask if they wanna be friends.

PLAY THAT COUNTRY MUSIC WHITE BOY. Okay, no offense to the fans out there, but I’ve never liked it. I could maybe stomach some of Taylor Swift’s stuff, because well, she’s adorable and her music is kinda pop-ish. Now, I pretty much listen to any myriad of country music stations on iTunes radio every day. You name it, I’m into it: Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, and The Civil Wars… I think all the talk about dive bars, pick-up trucks, summer picnics, slashing your ex-boyfriend’s tires, etc. just gets me. You can’t get much more American than that. I can almost smell the corn-on-the-cob and fresh cut grass while I sing along in the shower.

MYSTIC PIZZA ANYONE? Okay, now maybe this is normal for some people, but I never used to eat so much pizza. I mean, we have it pretty much once a week. I think it’s my subconscious trying to hold on to that small American culinary piece of me. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I HEART NETFLIX. I’m a movie and TV series hound. I LOVE digital entertainment. But, being here, I find myself watching things I never would have back home. Um. Hart of Dixie? Yeah. Anything that has anything stereotypically American — I’m hooked.

INVASION OF THE EXPAT SNATCHERS. I find I’m a different person here. Has this happened to you? I’m so self-conscious about the stereotypical American reputation here in the EU that I go out of my way to act more refined, reserved, quiet, socialist (I MISS wearing labels!!) And sometimes when people ask me where I’m from, this tone comes out like I’m apologizing for being from the U.S. ? What IS that!?

NO HABLO INGLÉS. I’m supposed to be speaking English to my little one 24/7 so she learns it as well as Spanish, but out on the street I always roll out my best Spanish to try and avoid looks that sound like – what the hell are you doing here gringa!?

That’s all I can think of for now, though I’m sure there’s more.  What’s your SEB? Wear it loud; wear it proud my friends.

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2 thoughts on “Secret Expat Behavior: Funny things being an expat makes you do

  1. Oh man. I’m so opposite! I’ve gotten to the point where hearing American accents, especially those loud ones, annoy me. BUT at the same time…it’s totally that sibling rule where you can’t make fun of my sibling, only I can. So, AS SOON as a non-American starts complaining about us, I go full-on defense mode! Maybe my expat secret is that I’m just more confused than ever! 😉

    • Totally. I’m on board with the sibling rule. I also hate it when euros are like, why does president Obama do this, or why are ALL Americans like that. Um yeah, it’s a big country, I don’t run it and haven’t even seen all of it. Search me — and don’t mess with my sibling! But you’ll probably go home soon, Wheras I’m not likely to, which is probably the difference. I miss my stupid sibling!

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