English Lessons

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Until you’ve experienced it, you can never really realise just what influence the United States has on the rest of the world. And yes, that is ‘realise’ with a ‘s’ and not a ‘z’…

Constantly is my spellchecker telling me I have spelt words such as ‘colourful’ and ‘neighbour’ wrong, but they are not wrong at all. I simply write and speak in British English, rather than American English and the computer often gets the two dictionaries confused.

But it’s not just the subtle language differences that can make Britain and America so different. Although I have only seen a small part of America for a few weeks of my life, there is so much difference in the culture that you cannot even begin to explain. For one, believe it or not, everyone seems much friendlier in America - but that might just be me. And the green English countryside I’d never really thought about was suddenly gone to make way for desert like land and palm trees.

Everything in America is generally cheaper than in England, especially makeup, CD’s and electronics. When in Wal-Mart (which is called ‘Asda’ here) I worked out that on average we pay four times as much for mascara than you would. And CD’s can work out the equivalent of 6 or 7 dollars cheaper than in the UK. I experienced floods of British people taking to the aisles of Wal-Mart to load up on such items to take them home, because the prices were so unbelievable.

But over here, despite some differences, our media and entertainment is mostly the same. We have the same stars, movies and music that you do…though definitely not as big a range, but nevertheless we do. You can expect a sort of ‘incubation period’ here with all this. It could take several months and in some cases several years for music and movies to be released here, and yes, it is extremely frustrating having to wait. And because it often takes a while for celebrities and crazes to ‘catch on’ here, imagine how annoying it is to read American magazines and not be able to pay attention to any release dates, movies, programmes and people because quite simply, they aren’t over here yet.

I know many teenagers here feel like we are living under the influence of something much bigger than ourselves. When someone goes on holiday (yes, holiday, not vacation) to the States, they come back with stories and generally tell us about some movie or music they saw/heard that hasn’t made its way ‘across the pond’ yet. It can all feel like you’re missing out on the ‘bigger picture’.

So there it is - a slice of view from outside. I’m British. I wear school uniform and speak in a ‘funny’ accent. And for the record, I do drink tea…but it’s not compulsory if you are British…a lot of people don’t even like tea. And your country probably seems a whole lot different and bigger to us than you ever realised (yes, once again, realised with an ‘s’ and not a 'z'.)





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