The Top Four Reasons Moving to the USA Can Make You See Things Differently

By: Claire Bolden McGill

This Top Four is based on the things that I think have encouraged me to change for the better as a person through my experience of living in the USA. This is because my expat opportunity in the States has helped me to see things differently. It’s about the things that have encouraged me to take a different perspective, and which have given me a renewed verve for life – all of which I owe to my fortunate position of being a British expat in the USA.

1. Accepting differences.

You know, we are all different. It’s a fact. When you move to another country you realise just how different we are culturally, linguistically, emotionally, politically and behaviourally. And when you are an expat in America (and you are a Brit) you understand that our cultures have similarities, and yet it’s the differences which stand out.

The way to succeed as an expat in the USA is to accept that this is just the way it’s done here – one way isn’t right and one way isn’t wrong. They are just different. And accepting differences, while challenging at times, encourages you to be less judgmental and more tolerant, to be more open-minded about all sorts of things, allowing you to take opportunities, and to find greater pleasure in all that you do, as well as to experiment with things outside your comfort zone.

Accept and celebrate the differences because they can be so rewarding. That’s what I’ve learnt as a Brit in the USA.

2. Appreciating your own country.

Britain is really very good at some stuff and very beautiful and full of character in its own unique way.  I suppose I never really appreciated this before. From my place on the other side of the ocean I have developed an appreciation of this far more than when I was actually in my own country because I’ve seen it with fresh and more beholden eyes.

It's almost like rediscovering your culture and identity from a different standpoint.

And it’s a much nicer way to view a place, flaws and all.

3 Appreciating your host country.

America is also really very good at some stuff and very beautiful and full of character in its own unique way. When I moved here I came to a country that I had really only known through movies and TV shows and I was anxious to de-construct the stereotypes and myths we Brits have of the USA, as well as to sometimes seek truth in some of the preconceptions.

I took it all in with new, wide eyes and an open mind, and from this I really began to appreciate and enjoy my host country, and ultimately started to learn and develop from it as a person.

By blogging about being an expat I’ve also encouraged Americans who read it to rediscover, or see with new eyes, aspects of their own county and culture and with this comes the ability to question and to keep experiencing and appreciating their own culture.

Again as an outsider looking in, being an expat in the USA with an open, non-judgmental focus is a much nicer way to view a place, flaws and all.

4 Being part of something.

You can be part of something new in your expat experience, or you can decide not to be.  You can embrace it or you can resist it. I decided not to fight against America, which as British expat you can sometimes do with a sense of ‘what they do here is wrong, and we do it better’. Instead I let America take me on a journey and through this I have become part of something. For me that is pretty special.

America allowed, and encouraged, me to do this and you just know you’ve developed a relationship with a place when sometimes you find yourself in sync with its culture, its thinking and its philosophy without losing your own culture and identity. And yet, at the same time, if you have a relationship with your host country, you can also freely challenge these things without ostracizing yourself, or just coming across as an expat who thinks that they might know better.

America and Americans have shown me that to be truly part of something you just have to take a leap of faith, and it’s by far the most rewarding leap I’ve ever taken.  Ever. I’ve made new and exciting  friendships; taken new and totally outside-of-the-box opportunities; and completely appreciated all the new and invigorating experiences they’ve offered me. For that I am so, so grateful.

Ultimately, all these experiences and opportunities are what makes an expat experience a great one. I have developed a close relationship with America, and, whilst still being a complete and utter Brit at heart, this has, at the end of the day, allowed me to change my perspective on how to view people, differences and the way we live our lives. My USA expat journey has helped me to see things differently, and, in the long run, for the better.

Thanks America, it's a privilege.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingClaire Bolden McGill is a British expat living in USA. Blog description: A little taste of America through my UK eyes.
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Contest Comments » There are 15 comments

VictoriaK wrote 10 years ago:

Claire, you should be the poster girl for "How to Be an Ex-Pat!" Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Jennette Miller wrote 10 years ago:

America (and Howard County) are fortunate to have you and your family among us. Your blogs, with their insights and adventures, are a delight to read. I wish our country had more people who could embrace differences with the attitude of "not wrong, just different."

Emma Kaufmann wrote 10 years ago:

Claire is a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll and is obsessed with wearing her Daisy Dukes even when it snows. She deserves to win this because she has a really open mind and is really excited by what the US has to offer her in terms of new experiences.

Wayne wrote 10 years ago:

Having an open mind, like yours, is a wonderful trait.

Tom wrote 10 years ago:

I appreciate the way you use humor to engage people on prickly subjects, which is all too important in an age of division and anger. Thank you for bringing your talents to our country and our community!

Robin wrote 10 years ago:

I always look forward to reading Claire's blogs. They are full of the interesting, funny or quirky snippets to brighten the day. Thanks Claire!

Kirsten wrote 10 years ago:

Claire's perspective on the differences of America & the UK is usually spot-on & makes me appreciate things I don't notice anymore about the US.

Chris Franey wrote 10 years ago:

I really enjoy reading Claire's blog. She has embraced our culture wholeheartedly and has experienced so much of our country! Her observations help me to appreciate the area where I live. She is lots of fun to hang out with!!

Sally wrote 10 years ago:

I've loved reading your blogs Claire, they have brought back so many memories of my two years in NY. Not only the difference in our two cultures, but my feelings about being an expat, the welcoming warm hearts of our US friends but also the lonely, homesickness feelings at the same time. Thanks Claire xx

Doug wrote 10 years ago:

Claire always has interesting insights and expresses them in a very funny way! Keep going girl!

Laurel wrote 10 years ago:

Claire's blog is always a great read.As a Brit, I find her 'window on America' fascinating and entertaining. The the way she embraces it all is fab!

Claire Melia-tompkins wrote 10 years ago:

Love this blog by Claire McGill. The quirky observations on life in the USA, plus her tales of getting involved in all things Maryland and her spot the difference between UK and USA is a wonder to read about and never fails to leave me smiling or thinking-depending on how serious the issue is she writes about.

Andy Kay wrote 10 years ago:

Claire and her blog "Desperate English Housewife in Washington" never fails to make me laugh. She is funny, interesting, witty and writes with a flair while gently poking fun at just about everything. As a longtime expat Brit, she reminds me of the differences between our two countries that I had forgotten about or taken for granted. Oh, and did I mention she makes me laugh - and that's usually a great way to start the day!

Mike Mcgill wrote 10 years ago:

Great blog, Claire, it is always great to read your blog because it gives us here in England,some wonderful insights in to American life. The USA is amazing place and you are giving us real details which we can not get from books. Keep it up.

Helen wrote 10 years ago:

Always an interesting, amusing! I like the way she approaches each subject with humour.

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