The French intern at my summer job learned English through British schools, and while he could passably converse with the rest of the Brits in the office, he found our American accents to be a rather big hindrance to comprehension. This amused me to no end.
I miss England sometimes. The company, too.
Perhaps it was the attention I received, not only as an American-accented Chinese (actually a minority for once) but also as an intern from abroad (of which I was the first). People were curious about me, about where I came from. They wanted to know whether everything they’d heard about New York City was true, and though I barely know the other side of my block, I had plenty of things to tell them about it. God, I had conversation topics. And each conversation, delightful in itself, was made all the better by hot British accents.
I was talking with Chris about my time there, since he is interested in studying abroad, and conveyed this sense of celebrity status. I would be singled out for being Asian, and pegged for an American once I opened my mouth. They’d ask almost immediately, “are you American?”
To the disappointment of some, I did not come back with a British accent, but Chris noticed that I was imitating a British accent when I quoted them. I hadn’t done it on purpose, I was simply relaying what was ingrained in my mind. The “are” was pronounced more like a gentle “ah,” and American used a “meh” in place of the “mare” sound.
When we imitate the British we make ourselves sound haughty, but when the British imitate us they make themselves sound like redneck retards. No joke. I also found this endlessly amusing. In fact, endlessly amusing would be a recurring theme while there, provoked by places like Poundland (as in currency, not weight) and conflicting concepts like suspenders. Everything there was different, and yet familiar enough to keep me insulated from the worst of culture shock.
Best of all? Net profit. Also, apparently I am the British definition of Filipino, as evidenced by their consistency in guessing my nationality.