If there’s one place that still makes me feel like an ex-pat it’s my kids’ school. First there’s the grade system. My oldest is now in tenth grade thank goodness, so there’s less of the counting on fingers to figure out a kid’s age. In the UK, it’s “years” which are one ahead of grades - Year 1 is Kindergarten, Year 2 is First Grade, and so on.
Then there’s the annual school supplies list which asks for things like trapper-keepers. I thought it was zoology equipment at first! (For those not in the know, it’s a school binder with lots of things inside and a zip all the way round.) I used to phone friends for translations, but I now give my kids the lists and let them run around the store.
Being English, senior proms, home-comings, cheer-leading and science fairs are all new to me. I called recess, “playtime”, the principal was the “head” and math had an “s” at the end. We bought “sweets” at the “tuck shop”, and had “dinner ladies” serve us lunch. Fortunately, my kids are “bilingual” and understand my English words. They are just thankful that I have stopped calling erasers “rubbers”, at least in front of the principal.
This post was written by Toni, an expat from the north east of England that moved to the States in 1990. She now lives in Chicago with her husband, plus three children ranging from five to 15 years old. In her spare time she writes and blogs, and managed to get her first book published in 2006. "Rules, Britannia; An Insider's Guide to Life in the United Kingdom" (St. Martin's Press) is especially written for Americans moving to the UK.
Photo credit: amanky