I’ve always been a believer in jumping into host cultures and trying to become ‘local’, especially as it often means not getting ripped off or stared at. Over the years though after doing this in many countries I’ve started to wonder about me, am I still English/British/United Kindomish? According to my passport I haven’t lived in the UK for quite a while and have been trotting the globe. Now, I feel more at home abroad and like being ‘the weird English bloke/teacher’. a few questions spring to mind:
1)What have I picked up from other countries?
2)What is my ‘culture’ now?
3)Is this common in the EFL world?
4)How can I teach English culture when I don’t feel a part of it anymore?
Actually, I’ve never felt happy with the stereotyped ‘beer, footy, kebab’ culture seen TV, I always thought English culture has so much more to offer. When I grew up the European influence started and I found myself more at home in a cafe chomping on strangely named cakes or in an Italian eating with unpronounceable dishes but where everything seemed to require black pepper and parmesan. Now, I like to go to a tea house and have a British cuppa as I’m abroad. I guess distance does make the heart grow fonder. There is a lot of research to show that foreigners abroad assert their own culture more but apart from a drink and some odd biscuits I wouldn’t say I do.
I do feel at home now abroad, more than I did in the UK and I like teaching students ‘on their turf’. At the moment I’m adapting again to another context but have definitely retained things from the other countries. Whether this means I’m now ‘international’ I don’t know but I do wonder how other travelling EFLers feel, after all we are the ones taking English to the learners so they can connect from their own countries.