Not Again! Reverse Culture Shock

First Barney Plush

First Barney Plush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reverse Culture Shock occurs when you return to your home country after living abroad.  If you’ve been away for a sustained period, things will have changed (including yourself).  You have adapted (sometimes kicking and screaming) to another culture.

Depending on how long you’ve been away, you may find that many things have changed.  You don’t expect that things have changed so much.  You definitely don’t appreciate the depth of your change either.  The first time I experienced Reverse Culture Shock was when I returned to the US after a year as an exchange student in high school.  I came back and there was a lot I didn’t know.

Barney had hit and I just couldn’t understand the fuss about a purple dinosaur.  RuPaul is another example.  I didn’t know he wasn’t in drag.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he wasn’t a woman.  In the pre-internet early 90’s, I didn’t know any of the songs on the radio and didn’t have the slightest clue who he was.  I felt like  a foreigner in my own country.

The longer you’ve been away and the more you embraced the habits and customs of a new culture, the more likely you won’t feel at ease, relaxed or comfortable in your country of origin.   It’s only natural the tour experiences changed you and re-entry can be difficult.  Sometimes, people find it impossible to readapt to their home country after living abroad for a number of years.  Others have seen RuPaul’s Drag Race and now understand.

A Little Bit of Love

A Little Bit of Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Our New Language…English (Or At Least Our New Vocabulary)

courtesy of Wallace and Gromit

Usually when we learn new words, they are inappropriate ones on other languages.  Sometimes we try to be polite travelers and learn words like “hello”, “goodbye”, “yes”, “no”, “please”, “thank you” and “cheers”.

Courtesy of photo pod and Picture Britain

In an effort to understand and fit in with other speakers here, he has worked on his English vocabulary.  Yep, that’s right.  English.  In truth, he’s been working on British English.

with the loo

New words he likes to use:

  • Banger = sausage, used in the phrase bangers and mash (meaning sausage and hash browns)
  • Chaps = they are not the pant covers cowboys wear, but are instead a couple of guys (sounds better when uttered by Michael Caine)
  • Cheerio = Goodbye
  • Fancy = exhibiting a fondness for something, liking someone or something
  • Flat = Apartment
  • Governor = a colloquial expression for boss
  • Loo = Bathroom
  • Quid = a unit of money equal to one pound (+/- $2)
  • Proper = used as an intensifier
  • Posh = fancy, upper crust

My Favorites include:

  • Carry on = literal, but not used as much in the US
  • Keen = Eager
  • Knickers = Underwear
  • Jolly = an adjective meaning very, as in jolly good fun
  • Peckish = Slightly hungry, in the mood for a snack
  • Toilet = Restroom, they do not say restroom because you don’t rest in there.  Likewise, they don’t use bathroom unless there is a bath in the room.

Courtesy of Take Me Out

Unfortunately for our IQ’s, we have watched some British reality TV.  It’s so bad it’s good.  Don’t judge.  It has provided us with some new words:

  • Chips = French Fries
  • Chippie/Chippy = a takeaway restaurant that sells fish and chips (see above)
  • Chat up = Hit on
  • Cooker = Stove
  • Fringe = Bangs (the part of the hairstyle, not the verb)
  • Gutted = disappointed and upset
  • Redundant = Laid off
  • Slap = Slang for makeup

Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Thanks to the large number of British Gangster movies, we were already familiar with some of them.  Here are a couple of British phrases that needed no translation due to our excessive viewings of movies like: Layer Cake, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Gangster No.1, Green Street Hooligans, The Bank Job and Eastern Promises.

  • Blokes = Guys
  • Bloody = a mildly vulgar word used to express anger, shock or for emphasis (For obvious reasons, we are only listing quasi-appropriate slang here.  For the other stuff, you will have to come here and ask him)
  • Caravan = RV/motor home
  • Cheers = an expression gratitude or parting, not just toasting
  • Pissed = Drunk
  • Sort = to deal with, as in “don’t worry, it will all get sorted out.”
  • Tart = slang for a less than respectable woman
  • Tarted up = made up to go out but looking slightly less than respectable

Courtesy learn-english-esl-resources-com

Here’s are some other differences between British and American English:

  • Bancock Belly = Montezuma’s Revenge
  • Biscuit = Cookie
  • Boot = Trunk
  • Bin = Breadbox
  • Braces = Suspenders
  • Buggy = Stroller
  • Bunk = to play hooky
  • Callbox/Telephone Box = Telephone Booth
  • Closet = any small room

    Courtesy of aie.edu.vn

  • Diary = Personal calendar, not someplace where you write the juiciest gossip
  • Flyover = Overpass
  • Footpath = Sidewalk
  • Garden = Yard
  • Hamper = a basket for food, used in terms like picnic hamper and Christmas hamper
  • Hire = Rent
  • Hood = the top of a convertible car
  • Jumper = Tank top
  • Lead = Dog’s leash
  • Lift = Elevator
  • Lolly = Popsicle

    Courtesy of aim.edu.vn

  • Mackintosh = Raincoat
  • Mate = Friend
  • Mum = Mom
  • Nappy = Diaper
  • Plaster = Band-Aid
  • Pudding = A heavy dessert or main course, not just a creamy dessert
  • Quite = a term of agreement use to express reluctant agreement or disbelief; more like “not quite”, “not really”, “sort of, but not very”, or “hardly at all”.  Apparently, it must be uttered in an aloof, pretentious, manner so I don’t plan on using it anytime soon.
  • Rubbish = Trash Queuing = Waiting In Line
  • Rubber = Eraser
  • Skip = Dumpster
  • Spots = Pimples
  • Stand = to run for office
  • Straightaway = Immediately
  • Suspenders = since they use the term braces instead, suspenders mean garters.
  • Torch = Flashlight
  • Trolley = Cart
  • Tube = The London Subway
  • Underground = Subway
  • Waistcoat = Vest
  • Wagon = Freight car on a railroad
  • Wash up = to clean after eating food
  • Winker = slang for a turn signal

courtesy of en.islcollective.com

Should you wish to further educate yourself, here is the link to the British Dialect Translator or the Dictionary of English Slang and Colloquialism (UK version).

International Run in Geneva

I found a running group that meets several times a week.  I went for a run yesterday morning and it was delightful. It was also VERY international.  I ran with people from Haiti, the UK, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Hungary, the states and Switzerland.  I’m sure there were more nationalities present, I just didn’t have time to talk to everyone about where they were from.The run was a very nice and varied run through different parts of the city.  We started at the lake, went through a park, passed fields with cows, ran around the UN (as usual, protests were in full swing), in front of embassies, by the train station and back to the lake.  It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.

It is becoming clear that just by virtue of living here, we will be exposed to and have the opportunity to be enriched by people and things from all over the world.