Observations on America (from an invisible foreigner)

Early 2012 212That rare gift of being able to see your own culture objectively… I can already feel it waning. But I’m thankful for this time where I can see my birth culture through the eyes of an outsider. And I never want to forget. For me, I am an invisible foreigner. I look and (basically) sound American. But after living 12 years in Ireland, I feel foreign. I keep thinking of the millions of those who have come to this country over the decades and feel compassion for how confusing and tiring it must have been or still is for them.

So, for now, this is what I see. It’s still all very surreal.

This first list is from after being in the US for six days after we arrived on January 9, 2016 to Central PA.

After 6 days in the US:
1) I have rarely been cold indoors. In Ireland I was rarely NOT cold indoors in the winter time (okay, sometimes in the summer time too).
2) Changing cultures is VERY tiring. (Even when it’s your home country (but still a different culture within that country)).
3) People don’t stare at us when they hear us talking, only when they hear us talking about living in Ireland and how it’s different in the US.
4) Even though we are familiar with the US we are totally UNfamiliar with the US. This feels surreal.
5) Lots of food. Lots. We keep ordering more than we can eat.
6) We are starting to adjust to everyone having an American accent. But we still do double takes when we hear American accents, but then realize it’s just how most people talk around 
 here.
7) I am slow at counting out American money.
8) I still call it American money.
9) People will not wait very long for you if you are late.
10) I’m proud of how my boys are doing so far.

** All these observations are only my own experience from my own point of view, yours may be entirely different, mine may even be different a few months down the road. That’s okay. They are observations as a learner and student of culture, not judgments or finality in thinking. 

I Come From the Future…And the Past

So….

I moved…

Across an Ocean…

But it feels like 17 oceans…

Like I am coming from the future…

Back to the past…

But also…

From the past into the future…

Confusing?

I agree!

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Ireland

Three months ago we moved to the US after living in Ireland 12 years. We not only left our adopted country and home, but we moved to a place where started out knowing only one person which we had only met once 15 years ago for two hours.  One. Single. Person.

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Ireland

So we moved to a new country, a new region in that country, a new home in that region, new schools, a new job. It’s all new. Nothing is the same. At first glance Ireland and the US do not seem that different but, they are. They really are. And considering the culture shock for me, imagine the shock for my 11 & 12 year old boys. Their whole lives they have been told they are American. Well, here in America, now they are Irish. It’s the plight of the TCK (Third Culture Kid). You are seen as being “more so” from the country in which you are NOT currently present in. Never fully one or the other.

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Green in Ireland, White in USA

Sure, we took several short trips over the years. We even spent two, four month stints in the US when they were little kiddos.  But trips never cut it in terms of cultural awareness when you move to the place you’ve only ever visited. The didn’t come “home” to America. They are effectively foreigners. And mostly invisible ones. Even the language, though both English, is different enough (Hiberno English and American English are different dialects) that they struggle to understand at times. We all do actually. And the slang? Let’s put that on hold for a while can we?

All this to say,

I’m going to attempt to be writing about this for a while, still interspersing creativity and art and other beautiful things. But for now, adapting to a place that is simultaneously home and a foreign land, and all the observations and crazy stories and misunderstandings and funny happenings that come with it is going to be the hot topic around here for a while.

There is a small window of time after being away from your home country that you get to see things more objectively than we otherwise are able. I hope to capture these moments and note them here. Partly for me, so I can remember, because time passes quickly and it’s easy to forget. And partly, I hope, for you.

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A New View: Flat, Wide Open Countryside

So whether you are an outsider looking in (which we all are to some extent) or insider looking out, her we go. One particular perspective after living between two particular countries.  I find things like this particularly interesting. I hope you do too.

 

*All photos were taken by me. Copywrited. Do not use without permission.