Even if it can be difficult to understand for friends and family back home, when you live abroad, at some point, you’ll necessarily and not always voluntarily begin to act, think or speak like a local. At least, you will have a great discussion topic with your expat friends. Here is an overview of my made in New York brainwashing.
THE LANGUAGE ISSUES
- You voluntarily use words in the foreign language while speaking in your mother tongue (because they come to your mind spontaneously)
(Usually, it’s when you are referring to topics you never or rarely talk about in your main language, such as your job.)
- You involuntarily use words in the foreign language while speaking your mother tongue (because your brain is a little bit messed up from the multitasking)
- With your expat friends, you speak like an insane person, mixing both languages.
(You know they are going to understand you anyway so you don’t even make the effort to speak correctly!=
- You invent new words, usually verbs, by conjugating random words in the foreign language like it was an already existing word. (It that makes any sense?)
THE STOMACH ISSUES
- When you live in the US*, your meals seem super fancy to your European friends, even though it is just the easiest food to find. (Even though I am dying to eat a real chunk of cheese without selling one of my kidney in this crazy city!)
*Works as well in the UK with the fancy breakfasts or in Australia with the beautiful plates of fresh fruits. In fact, it works almost everywhere, since the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!
- When having your food delivered at your door, at any time – day or night – seems as normal as cooking a good homemade meal!
- At the restaurant, you complain (almost) discretely when somebody complains about the 18% to 20% tip!
- When you were timidly trying kale a couple of months ago, you now shop for organic fruits, chia seeds, nut mild, Portobello mushrooms and smoked tempeh. And it’s completely normal!
THE ENVIRONNMENTA ISSUES
- You hear yourself tell to people: “Today was so warm, 4°C ” (because it’s 15°C more than the day before, and your interior thermometer is messed up!)
- Worse, you are soooo happy when the guy on TV says it was going to be 62° F the day after! (Mostly because one year ago, you did not have a clue about what was a Fahrenheit!)
- You walk like a real New Yorker, fast and steering clear of slow tourists obstacles without even looking at something else than your phone. When somebody stops abruptly in front of you, you curse at him let him know it’s not ok, in the local language!
- When in the past, you would have taken the car to drive half a mile, you are now walking a couple of miles without even complaining. Even worse, you are the one bringing the idea on the table: “Well, it’s only 25 blocs, let’s walk there!”
- You don’t have any notion of days or hours anymore. You work nightshifts, you go grocery shopping at 11pm and there is always an open pizzeria to satisfying your starving stomach on a Tuesday at 3 am, when you are coming back from a wild night of drinking shots!
THE MONEY ISSUES
- You are not (that) astonished anymore when your coworker tells you he’s making $12 an hour.
- You are not (that) astonished anymore when your coworker tells you he has two jobs.
- You are not (that) astonished anymore when your friend tells you he pays $1300 for a room in a non-furnished apartment. Without any amenity.
- When your friends tell you they pay 3k for a 1BD in Williamsburg, you answer is “Oh, not that bad!”
- You ask your American friends and acquaintances how much they pay in rent and how much they make. In fact, it’s usually the first question people are asking to each other when they meet for the first time.
- Your credit card statement is 8 pages long, and there is nothing wrong with that.
- When you see ads for (expensive) apartments in your hometown, you are always amazed by how big and how cheap it can be at the same time!
- Last time you’ve seen a coin, it was during your last trip in Europe (or it was a quarter, and you saved it for laundry day!)
THE INTERACTING WITH OTHER PEOPLE ISSUES
- Back home, I once put my full shopping basket on the cash register, right in front of an astonished cashier and a couple of shocked customers. Oh boy, less than one year and I had already forgotten than in Europe, I have to empty it myself!
- When you are jealous of your friend and his 15 vacay days + 12 sick days
- You hug everybody, including the big boss of the company you work for. (But at the same time, you are not allowed to go out and get drunk with your managers, even if they are not managing you directly. How logic is that?)
- You are always a little bit late, with your friends or even at work… (Shame on me, who cast scorn on Swiss people!)
- Your friends visiting would like you to walk slower, even though you already made an effort on that when they arrived.
- In some grocery stores (Howdy, D’Agostino!) you don’t even mind if the cashier don’t say a word to you during the entire process. You are not even trying anymore!
BUT FOR SOME THINGS, I AM STILL SO DESPERATELY SWISS!
- I am holding the door for people, and I get mad when they don’t.
- I say “hello” in the elevator, “goodbye” to the salespersons and “thank you” when it’s polite to do so!
- I don’t want to wait in line
foreverto get a table in a restaurant (even if it’s supposed to be a really good one!) (Howdy, Sophie!)
- I still don’t understand how you can work night’s shifts without getting paid more. Or Sundays. Or nights shifts on Sundays!
- I don’t throw my batteries in the garbage and I am still upset about my colleague, all smiley, throwing a dead lightbulb in a standard trashcan, just in front of my nose!
- I can’t drink these so-called Californian wines!
- Cheddar is great in burgers, but let’s get that straight, THIS IS NOT REAL CHEESE! (And btw, for God sake, stop calling this terrible tasteless and soft thing “swiss cheese”!)
- I try to save money, at least a little bit. The idea of having $17 on my saving accounts freaks me out!
I think that’s it… for now! Can you think about something else?