A lot of the time, I get asked what it’s like to be American in London. If it makes people more interested in talking to me or finding out about me.
In a round about way, I usually answer “not really.”
In London, being American is not that unique. Just think, I live in a building that is predominantly Americans. I go to bars and clubs where the crowd is typically a mix of Brits, Italians, French, and Americans (although, I try to avoid being too near other Americans as much as possible.)
London is a city of diversity and although, occasionally, I’ll get the odd compliment on my “accent” in smaller stores or outer-borough locations, for the most part, I’m just another person in the crowd.
Being American and feeling “exotic” only ever really happens outside of London. It happens when I am staying with British friends or family.
It’s then that I notice the differences. It’s then that I have a tendency to stick out because sometimes, I laugh and have to ask what they’re talking about when they use certain words or phrases. (Like that time I was told a story about how my friend used to eat rubbers when she was little. I think I laughed until I cried for about ten minutes, until I explained to them that a “rubber” does not mean an eraser in American English.)
Sometimes I get laughed at (all in kindness) when I use certain words or phrases.
Don’t even get me started on aluminum versus aluminium. (By the way my British fam, even my Microsoft Word thinks that “aluminum” is an incorrect spelling.)
So all in all, the best places to go, if you want to feel like you stand out as an American in England, leave the cities. Check out other areas of England. See the country. Make friends. I am lucky enough to have my very own British family in England. (Maybe not by blood, but definitely by friendship and love.) And I will always love it when they “take the mick” out of some of my really obvious American-isms.