Yes, I’m From America

As an American studying in London, I’ve encountered three kind of odd things:

  1. People always ask, “Are you American” as if my accent doesn’t give it away instantly
  2. Deciding how exact I can be when answering the question “So where in America are you from?” It’s very hard to gauge how good a person’s grasp of American geography is when you’re meeting them for the first time. Hence why I’m from the East Coast, DC, and Virginia.
  3. Immediately being considered an expert in all things American.

The last one is particularly difficult because I’ve spent the last five or so years learning as much as I can about British culture while spending very little to almost no time concerning myself with American culture. Sure I know about popular trends in a vague sense (thanks AV Club and EW!) but it’s not as if I’ve made a study of these things. This is especially true of American radio, which I had been ignoring long before I became obsessed with British radio. Except now, at least in my music radio class, I’m expected to pretty close to an expert on American music radio. I actually admitted in class today that I don’t listen to American radio any more because I think it’s crap (which was very liberating let me tell you.) It will be interesting to see how that goes.
The geography bit is difficult as well, largely because deciding where I’m from can be difficult. For instance, I’ll decide to say “I’m from DC” and the have to modify it to “the East Coast.” Or I’ll say “I’m from Virginia” and then cringe a little bit because no one from NoVa every says they’re from Virginia and the person I’m talking to doesn’t know what the heck I’m talking about anyway. Also, you’d think people would know where the largest and most powerful nation’s capital is. I’m just saying, even radio people should know that. It’s just sort of bizarre because American’s are pinned as not knowing anything about geography, but it turns out lots of Europeans don’t know anything about geography either. Or at least not simple American geography. Like knowing where its capital is.
Still, it’s not that bad really. I’m sure that British exchange students get the same treatment when they’re in American. Except for the accent thing because I’m fairly sure every American can identify a British accent. When you’re a novelty, it’s should be expected that you’re going to be poked and prodded and generally considered the ultimate example of your nation or culture. It’s just a bit difficult when you’ve been spending years trying to assimilate into the country and culture you’re visiting.
Finally I’d just like to say this to the people in my music radio class who, before class insisted they aren’t scenesters/hipsters, but then said they listen to NME radio: You may not consider yourself a hipster, but you are because you listen to NME radio and dress like you shop exclusively at second hand shops and Topshop. However what you really are, are closeted hypocrites. It’s time to come out of the closet and just admit that you’re a hypocrite. Trust me, it feels good.

Leave a Reply