Travel Blog: Fitting in and hospitality

Lydia Marcus–Staff Writer

Though adapting to life in England has been fairly easy, and though it is similar to the United States in many ways, I am undeniably a foreigner here.

And, I advertise that fact every time I open my mouth.

I sound like an American, and any attempt to disguise this fact would probably make things worse. Some of my fellow study abroad students, who also desperately wish they could blend in with the locals a little more effectively, have actually tried affecting British accents when interacting with Britons. Some do so unintentionally because they’ve osmosed British intonations after being surrounded by British accents all day long. The results of these efforts are mixed—an accented “sorry” usually goes over better than a faux British accent sustained over an entire conversation. (It is a little ironic that attempts to blend in with the locals can also put you at risk of offending the locals…)

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Senior staff writer Lydia Marcus stands in front of her Oma’s childhood home in Rotterdam.

In spite of the probably inordinate degree of shame I feel about my accent, the Britons I have interacted with have been gracious and not noticeably xenophobic. It’s probably easier for Americans in Oxford than in other cities because Oxford is a university town. There are lots of foreigners here, and they have a valid excuse for being here because they’re students. So, that helps a bit.

However, we like to fit in, and not being able to do so makes us feel a little helpless.

But, we have slowly realized that most native Britons probably care less about our not being British than we do. In fact, our foreign accents sometimes seem to earn us an extra dose of hospitality. Here we are, twenty-somethings who decided it would be a good idea to move across the Atlantic for university. We’re (naïve) adventurers, in a small way. And, a number of people here seem rather pleased that we’ve chosen their nation as the destination for our adventures.

All in all, feeling like an outsider isn’t very comfortable, but the hospitality of strangers makes it much more bearable. So, could the same be said for you, and for our Dordt community?

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