A letter from a Bringing Up Brits reader
I wanted to share a message I got from the UK Yankee online forum. Jessica contacted me via this forum asking about Bringing Up Brits. She then bought the Kindle version and after reading, she sent me her story. Actually, Jessica and I have a fair bit in common in that we both taught overseas, both met our British husbands overseas and both of us are still living outside the USA.
I just finished reading your book and I enjoyed it a lot. Those are all things I think/worry about and I don’t even have kids yet (planning to in a few years).
I lived in South Korea for five years teaching English where I met my British husband. We then taught in China for a year before moving to Guernsey, Channel Islands where he is from. As you mentioned in your story, it felt like I was “closer to home” culturally compared to living in Asia for six years.
Guernsey is a bit different to the UK in some regards (no NHS or free nursery) but surgeries and GP referrals to specialists are free. I also believe a lot of the prenatal care is free, but am unsure about birth costs. Culturally Guernsey is similar to the UK and many Brits live over here. I do still experience (been here for one year) social anxiety similar to your experiences and often feel like I say things and get no response. I often just wonder if they didn’t hear me, couldn’t understand my accent, or I just said something ridiculous!
I work as a teaching assistant traveling around to different schools and not only find socializing challenging, but getting used to the UK education methods. I knew exactly what you meant when you described asking the teacher how they do addition/subtraction because I was clueless. This has left me lacking confidence that I would have had teaching in the US or abroad. I am trying to get a teaching credential here and I am always worried I won’t understand the terminology or be able to teach things the British way.
Anyway, I definitely felt I could relate to your situation even though I don’t have children yet; it is definitely on my mind a lot as I approach my thirties. I think it is good to consider these challenges before having children so it doesn’t come as a total shock. I do consider the pros and cons of birth and raising children in the US vs UK. I met an American over here who had a distressing story of her being unable to live in Guernsey (couldn’t get a job as a teacher after three years!) and her husband being unable to continue living in the states with paranoia people would steal the children. After they moved back to Guernsey the second time and she couldn’t find a job, she just recently moved back to the states with her two daughters and her husband refused to go. She didn’t want to split up her family, but felt she had no choice. I know things like this happen a lot and I really want my kids to grow up in a committed family environment regardless of location.
Sorry for the long message, but it felt nice to talk to someone who has gone through a similar experience. Best of luck with the new book!