The first day my sister was visiting was the last day I wrote something of worth in here. I mentioned now being able to understand that feeling of embarrassment and childishness when your parents come visit you at work or something. What I failed to remember was that in almost all of those situations, the characters learn to deal with it in a mature way.
I think a better explanation of what I was feeling those first few days is that classic movie scene when the mother comes in when the kid is hanging out with his friends and shares some embarrassing story about how the kid acts when he or she isn’t being “cool” around friends. Except the “uncool” thing I was exposed as being was, well, being an American. The thing is, when you look back on those times your mom embarrassed you in front of your friends, you realize that you were completely overreacting and that you shouldn’t have been ashamed at all. Fortunately, since I’m adultish now, it only took a few days to go from embarrassment to realization that I was stupid.
Not only was I stupid for being ashamed that my sister and friends were “outing” me as an American, I was stupid for being ashamed of being an American. I remember hearing in my cross-cultural training class that the two most common reactions to Americans studying abroad is that they either become more or less American. I was on the “less” side, but so much so that I don’t even think I believed it. It took having other Americans around to hang out with for me to realize that most of the English things I did were not so much because I deep down wanted to do them, but because I thought they were what I was supposed to do to fit in. It was peer pressure on a national level.
Now, though, I don’t feel that pressure anymore. I’m sure it helps that I don’t have classes to rush to or work to get ready for, but I’m letting myself walk a little slower and I’m trying harder to write “realize” instead of “realise” and I’m working on getting rid of my weirdo mid-Atlantic accent I acquired. I’m American. I’m from California. I love it there. I’m excited to go back. I may be in England right now and I’ll do as the English do when necessary, but I’m not going to be the apologetic American anymore. And that’s a nice thing to know about yourself.