An English girl returning to England…

So I haven’t set foot on English soil for 12 months. I’ve had the occasional bag of treats from home (thanks everyone!) – with chocolates, magazines and even some royal baby goodies (you are the best Laura!!). But, of course, there are so many things I could only daydream about (yorkshire puddings) or watch from afar (everyone posting their summer pics on Facebook). I’ve missed being a part of the country during Thatcher’s death, the birth of Prince George, Andy Murray doing good at Wimbledon, and a lot of crazy weather. It has been really strange reading about all of these things and talking to friends about them… so I can imagine I’m there but at the same time feel so, so far away. I kinda liked Thatcher so I tried to tell people here about her when she died… but why would anyone else care much about a British ex-Prime Minister dying? I had Laura to talk about these things with for a while – but often we shared different opinions and then she left :( So I’m sorry UK for missing some pretty important things in 2013, but hopefully you’ll give me some things to be proud of in 2014. 

When I left London on the 15th of January last year on a flight to Honduras, I could not wait to leave! I didn’t shed one tear as I left or said my goodbyes and I didn’t feel homesick until well into my year abroad. I was just really ready to leave – I was seriously bored of living in the UK and I was sick of hearing about the benefits row, the racism and many other problems we have. I arrived in Honduras ready to tell people I didn’t like my own country and I wanted to get out – poor Laura tried hard to stick up for the UK while I was pointing out all of its issues. But something happened this year that I didn’t expect – as well as falling in love with Honduras, I’ve also rediscovered the wonderfulness of my own country too. You don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone I guess. There are so many things I have missed about the UK and I have learnt a lot about myself just from noticing differences between my culture and the culture in Honduras. I have realised that a lot of things I do/think, aren’t actually me at all – they are traits of my nationality that are just a part of me without me even noticing. Here are a few examples of how, over the past year, I’ve realised how British I am…

1. Talking about the weather. I mention more than anyone else I know how hot it is – probably because I’m the one struggling most but I probably seem obsessed to everyone else. And whenever there has been heatwave or a storm in the UK, I used to go around my project telling everyone about it! I guess I missed going into work and having EVERYONE talking about it…

2. I love to queue. Honduras, much as I love them, they often just don’t know how to queue. I’ve seen young men shove old ladies out of the way to get to the bus first. And even in very good queues at the bank, a man push in to the front and the security guard, who has a gun (!), just do nothing about it! Well I’m always outraged at these things and I have always been far too shy to push and shove like others so I’ve often been in danger of missing the bus, waiting hours to be served etc. Luckily, one thing I do have going for me here is the white skin… people here love to let a gringa go first! I guess I will have to forget that privilege next week…

3. Being unable to complain. I never realised just how scared we are in the UK to complain and make others feel bad! I’ve been overcharged for hotel bills, had the wrong food given to me, and all sorts… but I can never complain. The idea of getting someone in trouble or putting them out just terrifies me! Hondurans are amazingly up front about these things and, often, manage to fix issues by talking to the other person like they have been friends for years. But I just can’t do it…

4. Being over-polite. I use the public buses to get to my project, ad everywhere else nearly, and it is the same transport used by people who can’t afford cars, taxis etc. A very small percentage of these people are kind of weird to be honest, or smell bad, or are a little scary. When a Honduran person sits next to one of these people, and then realises they have sat down next to someone a bit weird, or smelly, or scary, they just stand right back up and move. No problem. Again, I just can’t do it! I’m so worried that I will offend the weird, smelly or scary person so I stay put for the entire journey… just in case I offend a complete stranger. Makes not sense right?!

5. Political shyness. When the build up for the elections began I was amazed at how much Hondurans spoke about them and that people would declare proudly who they supported and who they hated. That would just never happen in the UK; it’s a big hush hush on who you like and we will go to any lengths not to offend someone else’s opinion. We’re a strange bunch really. 

So that is what I’ve learnt about myself over the past year that I thought was just me being me, but actually is all down to me being British. And I’m proud of those things – so what if I have to wait 5 more minutes in a queue, eat something different or sit on next to a smelly person on a bus. And I’ve also become more defensive about my Britishness thanks to Americans, surprisingly. People here are constantly assuming that because I am white and kinda blonde, I must be American. Or maybe Canadian. Well I’m not – I’m British and proud of it. I tell people straight away who ask that no, I’m not American but English. And I often tell them, because many don’t realise here, that the English language came from England. And our accent is seriously better. So thanks Americans for encouraging me to defend my nationality and language 😉 

I never thought I would be so excited to get back home to England. But, ohhhh gosh, I am!! I’m ridiculously excited – I can’t wait just to fly into a grey, rainy sky. I can’t wait to drive up the familiar M1. I can’t wait to drive through my town and just see that nothing has changed. I really, really can’t wait for the food – fish and chips, curries, roast dinners, the puddings – people say we have rubbish food but they don’t know what they’re talking about! There are so many places I can’t wait to visit again – from the wood in my village where I walk the dog to going down to London and being a tourist, I can’t wait to rediscover all my favourite places. And this time I will really appreciate them. 

Of course there are some things I’m not looking forward to – paying a ridiculous amount of car insurance, watching parties like BNP breed ignorant people, and, of course, the awful weather. But now i know these problems are just part and parcel of my country and you’ve gotta get the bad to get the good. 

I can’t wait to say ‘Hello England’.

 

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