Nothing To Write About Column (Published Nov 2008)

Hi. I’m Catie. Yeah, I’m American. Iowa. No, that’s Idaho. No, it’s right in the middle. You know where the Mississippi River is? No? Oh. Let’s see … yeah, kind of by … no, it’s not by New Orleans. Iowa. No, it’s not a city. It’s a state. Ohio is a different state. Yeah, I guess they kind of sound the same …

So far, living in England has been an excellent adventure. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my experience abroad, but after repeating the preceding conversation with all of my classmates, teachers, new friends, the lady at the shoe store, people in elevators, on trains, in the restroom … I’m thinking about having a T-shirt made up.

See, to many of the native inhabitants I’ve met, there are three options. Americans are from a) New York, b) California, or c) somewhere in the middle. Now imagine trying to explain to someone who thinks that Iowa is the one that looks like a mitten that you’re technically from two states and four cities, plus a few extra tacked on here and there with a river in between, but the river is just for looks because we have like three bridges. (Insert witty bridge-under-construction joke here.) I’ve started carrying in my wallet a map on which the Quad-Cities is circled to aid conversation. Only once did I try and explain the Sky Bridge.

The most exciting thing about being here is that people actually are interested in our “outsider” perspective. Because of this, our blog also is taking off, and we have become minor celebrities here on campus, which has been very interesting. We keep getting recognized as “those girls from that blog” (which gives me a warm homey glow, as I’m used to being “that girl from that column” in the good old QCA), but I fear that English people will start taking my word for things.

Let’s be honest: I’m weird. I should in no way be trusted with being a cultural ambassador. I have half of my fiction class believing that all Americans burst into show tunes whenever the mood strikes, and we all will drop whatever we’re doing immediately if the Sherlock Holmes episode of “Star Trek” comes on. True story: I made friends with a guy in my English class when I made the comment, “Hey, you’re wearing fingerless gloves (long, awkward pause) just like Fagin.” I am so cool.

I’m glad that I chose England for my study-abroad experience. Until now, the only experience I had had with English culture was reading books by Charles Dickens and about Harry Potter, and watching the good version of “The Office,” so finding out what life is really like on this side of the pond has been an adventure all its own. Plus, being from America makes me mysterious and exotic, thusly ensuring a talking point when initiating conversation with cute boys around campus. OK, who am I kidding? But I could initiate conversation. If, you know, I wasn’t busy reading Harry Potter.

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