Being a foreigner in the country you live in can be a bit tricky sometimes.
To clear things up I am originally from Germany. To be more precise, I am German but I moved to England with my family two years ago. So normally I roam the streets of London and Oxford in my free time. This can be a bit dangerous (for me and for others) but most of all it can be really embarrassing for me.
I’ll give you two examples of situations when I made it quite obvious that I am a foreigner.
As you probably all know the British are a bit weird with their driving. They just decided to “say no to status quo” and literally swim/go/drive against the flow. Driving on the left side of the road is a challenge to everyone coming for a visit from the mainland. For me it wasn’t that difficult because I took my driving lessons in England, so it is perfectly normal for me to drive on “the wrong side of the road”. Theoretically speaking.
It happened the day of my graduation. My year had organized this big ball event in a fancy hotel where we could party without our parents. Just like in the movies the drive way in front of the hotel was this big round about where you can park directly in front of the door, get out and the chauffeur drives off again. Firstly, I did not have a chauffeur, I was driving myself. Secondly, as I already told you, I am German and that fact decided to come to the surface as I was going through the gates. Despite everything I had learned in my driving lessons when I was confronted with roundabouts (and I am telling you, there are a whole lot of roundabouts in England. I am not even kidding.) to obviously go clockwise into the drive way, clever as I am, I just went counter clockwise. That alone would not have been so bad, but in that moment another car came directly towards me. They were obviously right: England = you drive on the left side of the road, so you go clockwise into a roundabout, duuh. Luckily we both weren’t driving very fast, so we were able to avoid a collision and all I had to do was back out and go the correct way. Still, in that moment I definitely showed everyone around that I am not British. Awkward!
But things like that can also happen when you are on vacation (or on an internship trip, or something, whatever it is called) in another country. A few weeks ago Carmen and I were helping out at the Book Fair at West Pine Middle School. At first we were just supposed to keep an eye on the kids looking at the books and stuff like that. Later on we got promoted to being the cashiers. That should not have been so complicated because the cashier system is not that difficult and I worked at a pub in England before I came here, so nothing to be worried about. No way I could do something embarrassing, right? I thought wrong.
I had scanned all the items and the customer was ready to pay. But what did I say? “That would be 8 pounds 95, please” POUNDS! I seriously said POUNDS! I didn’t even notice what I had said, but Carmen was like: “We don’t have pounds here.” Awkward!
These are just two examples of some “Fettnaepfchen” (German word for to put one’s foot in it) I managed to get into that made it really obvious that I am a foreigner. I guess everyone has those moments and it’s only human to make mistakes. But just in that moment you wish there was a whole in the ground you could go into. Up until then I had thought: “I am blending in perfectly. No one even realizes that I am not British/American/or just English in general. But Karma does not work with me too often.
Oh, before I forget it: In case you see someone driving extremely to the right or even completely on the “wrong” side of the road, don’t worry. It is probably just that weird German girl who pretends to be British and tries to act normal in America.
(Aside from what I have told you here, please don’t be repulsed by my sometimes strange behavior. I am really nice, normally ) 😉