Five Minute Friday: The Ache of Feeling Different

“I like your trainers,” said one of my new husband’s fellow theological college (US: seminary) students.

“My trainers?” I asked, not knowing what he was talking about.

He pointed down to my feet, and I realized he must be talking about my tennis shoes. “Oh, thank you!” I said. “I didn’t realize you all had so many different words for things here.”

I was in my first days in Cambridge, having moved to England from Washington, DC, and I was feeling very much a foreigner in a strange land. I delighted in my new marriage and in my quaint surroundings, but I felt so very different. I’d hold off, when in the town centre, from speaking, lest I’d be marked as an out-of-place American. I had knew that adapting to a new culture might be challenging when I married Nicholas, but I hadn’t reckoned that I would feel so rocked in myself.

My journey of finally losing a self-conscious walking alongside myself, as C.S. Lewis put it in Perelandra, took more years than I care to admit as I embraced life in the UK. Living in London helps a lot, as this fantastic city is so multicultural that I rarely feel like I stand out as a foreigner. But I had to look more deeply, too, and ask God to help me to be myself, not editing my actions or responses unnecessarily in the quest merely to fit in (but of course modifying where appropriate).

I’ve learned that it’s more than okay to be different, not least when I meet people from many different countries and hear their stories of life, love, and God.

How are you different?

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up. You can find today’s prompt here.

I share many more stories and observations in my book Finding Myself in Britain, which to my delight won two awards. Find out more here.

5 Responses

  1. Moving to England must have been a big challenge! I am Scottish but lived in England for three years and I also found there were so many different words and phrases people used and everyone commented on my accent all the time! It must be so much harder coming from overseas. There are so many benefits though from meeting people from different cultures and countries and learning from one another’s perspectives. Visiting from FMF #10.

  2. I spent some time in the inner city several years ago. I know it’s not outside of the U.S. but it was very different and took some adjusting too. Visiting London is on our bucket list.

  3. Love this subject, Amy, and I have had a lot of dealings with the British (mainly SAS and SBS), and the jargon can be very different indeed.

    For example, to a Yank an LR is a camera; to a Brit it’s a self-loading rifle.

    And then there are the examples that should probably remain unmentioned in detail, such as the (now archaic) English slang term for courage meaning something quite different in Yankee English.

    #1 at FMF this week.


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