Monday, April 11, 2011

Stranger in a strange land

It is weird living in another country. There, I said it. There are so many things you take for granted just knowing the culture and such. The other day I saw some teenagers being questioned and searched by police and it made me realize I don't know the laws here. Do I have the right to remain silent or to an attorney (barrister)? Because I keep up on the field of computers I know that the law here is that if you have your computer searched and you refuse to give a password then you can be arrested but what about other stuff? This has created a strong desire to stay under the radar even when I'm innocent. Basically I can understand the extra stress that immigrants feel in the U.S. Whereas a citizen gets a fine would I be sent home, wasting all the money I've put into living here? I can see how easy this could be abused by people in power. Police could cross the line and I'd never know it so wouldn't report it.
The other thing I'm trying to get used to is the culture of interaction. One thing that British people hate about American culture is the fake politeness. Especially telling people to have "Have a good day" that you don't know, or sharing personal information to soon. Also, shaking hands at the end of a conversation and not the start. Frankly no one touches anyone here when talking to them. I think I've freaked a few people out just by touching them on the arm.
The one good thing is that I think that I finally understand British humor. There is still a lot more formal traits in the culture here, and the desire to keep them in the culture. So not knowing the proper thing to do leads to awkwardness. British humor is to introduce these situations and then revel in the awkwardness.

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