Culture Shock

Monday, 22 April 2013
Expat Interviews
Expats Blog is running a series of fortnightly writing contests for the next eight weeks based around our different expat life themes. There are four prizes per contest totaling in $350 in Amazon Vouchers! 

Here is an excerpt of my entry 'HELP! There is an American in the front garden!' on the subject of culture shock:

It is the summer of 2009 and after leaving France I am spending a month living in England with my boyfriend’s mum and step-dad before heading back to America.

Today my boyfriend’s parents are at work and he has gone into town to get his hair cut, leaving me to my own devices. Although it is a beautiful day, I am inside, taking the opportunity to catch up on the dirty laundry that I have been neglecting since France. The only clean items I have left to wear are a pair of bikini bottoms and one of my old high school t-shirts.

While the washing machine is located in the house, the tumble-dryer is out in the garage. An arrangement I find peculiar, but the English seem to find this normal. I grab a pile of clean, wet clothes, pull on a pair of neon green wellies, and do a double take to ensure none of the neighbours are out.

With the coast clear I dash across the front lawn and put my clothes into the tumbler. It is around this time that a slight breeze picks up and I hear the slam of a door. With my task complete, I dash back to the front door only to discover that the slamming I heard was our door and I am now completely and utterly locked out.

I jiggle the door handle in the vain hope that it will magically unlock while the dog stares at me through the bay window with her tail wagging. It appears my only option, other than sitting on the front lawn in bikini bottoms, old high school t-shirt, and wellies, is to climb over the garden wall and get in through the open back door.

I go into the garage to grab a ladder, but am foiled again. It appears they either do not own a ladder or do not keep it in the garage. It appears I will be hopping this fence the old fashioned way. The problem is, it isn’t a fence so much as a massive door (that is also locked might I add) that goes just past the height of the garage.

With nothing to stand on, I have one leg on the wall of the house and the other on the wall of the garage effectively in a full splits (haven’t done one of these since my dancing days) and am trying to shimmy up the walls.

A car comes into the cul-de-sac, clearly one of the neighbours has returned home. I have been in England for a matter of days and have not yet been introduced to any of the neighbours. A point I find completely normal, but apparently not so normal to the English. So far, the only thing I know about these neighbours is that my boyfriend’s parents are the youngest by about thirty years.

Should I continue to try and climb over the Mt. Everest of garden fences or should I try and see if this poor pensioner has a ladder I can borrow? I jump down from the wall and head over to meet the acquaintance of the elderly man now bent over his car boot pulling out shopping, while at the same time trying to pull my t-shirt over my bottom. 

To read the full entry, please visit Expats Blog website and be sure to check out some of the other entries while you're there! Remember to leave a comment on your favourite post as the judges will be taking them into account for one of the prizes!

Erin x


  1. Holly Nelson said...:

    Love it! I wrote one for them too, will have a proper read - I love hearing all of the stories. Really cute Welly picture too!

  1. Erin Moran said...:

    Thanks Holly for the comment! I'll have to check out your entry as well!

    I purchased the picture from a stock photo company I sometimes use!

    Erin x

  1. Holly Nelson said...:

    It is a lovely pic. My comments won't go through - not on anything, anywhere on the expats blog and when I try to leave feedback to inform them of this, that doesn't work either?! Have you found this same problem at all? Thinking of emailing them!

  1. Erin Moran said...:

    Is it possible that they just haven't published them yet? I haven't tried this evening! I'll see in the morning but if it doesn't work then yes I'd email them!

    Erin x

  1. Jade said...:

    Hi Erin! I read the full post off the back of a tweet I think you posted and I couldn't stop laughing! You sure know how to tell a story! I can just imagine those neighbours too - I think mine are now used to their crazy Australian neighbours!

  1. Erin Moran said...:

    Thanks Jade! Glad I could make you laugh. Why is it we Americans and Australians always get the wrap for being the crazy ones?!

    Erin x

  1. ashley said...:

    Hello! Found your story on expats blog-I'm also an american who married a brit, although i met mine when we were both living in South Korea. it's nice to hear about someone else having such similar experiences! Looking forward to giving your blog a little read :)

  1. Erin Moran said...:

    Hi Ashley, glad my story on expats blog led you here! Welcome! I hope you enjoy my blog! I bet living in South Korea was pretty interesting! I'll have to find your blog, if you have one let me know.

    Erin x

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