Being a Brit abroad

I’ve been living in a different country now for almost seven months and there is one thing that has struck me more than anything else I have encountered whilst I’ve been over here.

I am so bloody proud to be British.

British

Now, this may sound crazy and I am very aware of that. Especially post-general election, which we’re just not going to talk about because 1) that is not what this blog is for, and 2) it’s a bit of a sore spot with me…still! However, please bear with me and I shall attempt to elaborate on my point.

After seven months of travel and living in Australia it’s fair to say my friendship circles are officially international. I’ve shared dorms in hostels with people from all over the world, for the last four months I’ve been mingling with Australians and all the while I’ve been using the joys of Facebook and WhatsApp to stay in contact with my UK friends. I’ve loved learning about different cultures and ways of life from my new friends – I was unaware, for example, that many other European countries celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve! I maybe got a bit too into Australia’s national day, however I also attended an Anzac Day service, which – by the way – has to be the most efficient commemorative public holiday around because all the services are before sunrise!

I’ve had so many conversations about what it’s like to be British in a country such as Australia – a country that seems to be more interested in the monarchy than the whole of the UK put together is! In particular Princes Charles and Harry…why Australia, why?! These conversations often revolve around the empire that once was, whether or not Australia should be a republic (like I said, obsessed with the monarchy!) and how I deal with the “bloody pommies” comments. At moments such as those I tend to find myself reciting Hugh Grant’s speech from Love Actually…

“We may be a small country but we’re a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot. David Beckham’s left foot, come to that.”

(Seriously, can we not just have Hugh Grant as our Prime Minister…please?!)

I love my country. The amount of talent that emerges from such a small country is astonishing. Our sporting achievements have only increased over the years (let’s just ignore the cricket, yes?!). Our film industry is one of the best in the world, and our TV can’t be far behind. We gave the world the Spice Girls. We are so bonkers – we announce the birth of the latest royal with the words “Hear ye, hear ye” bellowed by a Town Crier who is really just a very loud man with a feather sticking out of his hat. We then announce the baby’s name on the official royal easel outside the palace because, well, why not?! In my humble opinion our sense of humour is the best – we have our own Twitter page dedicated to Very British Problems, which I can’t help but look through and fall a little bit more in love with my country after every tweet. Then there’s Britain’s Got Talent, which just fills my heart with joy for so many right reasons and just as many wrong ones. Today I awoke to this link sent to me by my brother:

If I’m ever required to explain the British sense of humour and attitudes I will just direct them to that.

Sadly we’re not a country famed for our patriotism, and it’s true we have a tendency to focus on the crap rather than rejoicing in the good and funny news. There is a lot to be unimpressed with – daft politicians, bad weather, peoples differing attitudes to immigration and a few months ago supermarkets had to be told to stop placing daffodils near the fruit and veg aisles because the people of the UK thought they were onions and poisoned themselves.

However, one of the things living in another country has taught me is that every country has problems. I was aware of this before, obviously, I had just never lived in a country with a politician silly enough to award Prince Philip with a Knighthood. I’ve learnt to embrace the faults of the UK lovingly in recent months, mocking them myself regularly too because if you can’t laugh at being associated with people who accidentally eat daffodils then what can you laugh at?! However I am finding that living in a country that’s not my own only makes me fiercely defensive of what we as Brits do have to be proud of (which is a lot, even if I haven’t done it the greatest justice in this post!) and determined to make it better upon my return.

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One response to “Being a Brit abroad

  1. Pingback: A sense of identity | The Naive Traveller·

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