A Londoner in Hanover: We no speak Americano

By Sophie O ' Mahony | 1/24/12 11:08am


























The title of this blog is meant to reflect the tricky position that I, an exchange student from the United Kingdom, have found myself in since arriving at the community that is Dartmouth. That is, I am a complete foreigner in this strange country of yours. Watching "Animal House" was not sufficient preparation.

I was given two options for going abroad upon entering my third year at the University of Edinburgh: either spend a year on a farm in Thuringia, screaming English with a strong German accent at the locals or enjoy a three-month skiing holiday at Dartmouth. Such is the impression that they gave us of what it would be like to study in New Hampshire.

I sat and listened. I had visions of gracefully gliding down a crystal white mountain, before accidentally (on purpose) crashing into a beautiful man who would feed me hot chocolate in his log cabin, preferably with marshmallows. I did not have visions of mucking out cows in central Germany, wearing wellies and a dirndl.

Wellies, by the way, are rain boots. Duh.

So I reluctantly turned down Thuringia. Hello, America! I love what you did withThe Office. You’re obsessed with Kate and Wills. We’re going to get along great, you and I.

Whoever said that I didn’t need foreign language preparation for America was severely misinformed. George Bernard Shaw, that great Irish playwright, was spot on when he said that America and Britain were two nations divided by a common language. I only properly understood this statement when I tried to purchase a tuna sandwich from Novack. China? No, tuna. Chicken? Argh.

One day, Novack, one day I will get a tuna sandwich from you. But for now I’ll have to settle for egg salad.

"Trousers" are now "pants." "Pants" are now "underwear." Before I know it, I just got naked in a sentence. "Crisps" are now "chips." "Chips" are now "fries." "Caramel" dropped an "a" somewhere and "colour" is missing a "u." I used to get in trouble for spelling "summarize" with a "z," and now I get marked down if I don’t.

Fortunately, Dartmouth students are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met and are helping me along this journey of adaptation. Slowly, but surely, I am learning your ways. Sometimes these lessons are tough, like asking loudly in public what "skeeting" means. But most of the time they are fun. Macklemore is awesome.

Later, homies.

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Sophie O ' Mahony