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Owain [00:01:17] Good morning and welcome to another episode of the English Waffle. This morning, I'm here with a special guest who's flown all the way over the Atlantic from the other side of the Atlantic. And it's my sister, Laura. Why have you just come over from another country?
Laura [00:01:37] Purely to appear on the English Waffle.
Owain [00:01:39] Ah, well, that's flattering, but that's not really why you're here, is it?
Laura [00:01:44] No.
Owain [00:01:44] Oh.
Laura [00:01:46] Oh, no, we're we're over to see family, we...we come back once or twice a year. On this occasion, we've got a new nephew that we haven't met yet. He's he's four months old.
Owain [00:02:01] Nice.
Laura [00:02:02] So we we had to we had to come over and catch him while he's still in the in the cute baby stage.
Owain [00:02:07] Right.
Laura [00:02:09] And...and then just see all of the rest of you as well, I suppose.
Owain [00:02:14] OK, so let's just...to confirm, where exactly do you live now?
Laura [00:02:17] We live just outside of Boston. It's actually near the New England Patriots Stadium in the suburbs.
Owain [00:02:25] Oh nice. OK, so you're in the typical kind of American white picket fence, you know, the place we think of when we think of American films.
Laura [00:02:35] Yeah, it's, um. It's a little bit like that. There aren't there aren't many fences. They don't go in for fences as much as we do. Maybe, maybe because they have bigger gardens they're not they're not so anxious to contain that little patch of land that is their own.
Owain [00:02:52] Right. They got plenty of space, haven't they.
Laura [00:02:53] Exactly. And where, where we're living in in Walpole, it's a...it's a bit different to the films because it's it's very heavily forested. There are loads and loads of trees.
Owain [00:03:06] Right.
Laura [00:03:06] I read a statistic the other week that 60 or 70 percent of the land area of Massachusetts is actually covered in trees.
Owain [00:03:15] Wow. That's amazing.
Laura [00:03:15] It's it's really, really different to over here.
Owain [00:03:18] So...
Laura [00:03:18] It's what England was probably like...loooong ago.
Owain [00:03:21] Right. So you...can you, can you notice the difference? Are you breathing better Do you feel...feel like there's a...a lack of pollution and...?
Laura [00:03:32] Um, no. I mean, we're closer to a major international airport then we were. And I go...
Owain [00:03:37] Boston.
Laura [00:03:37] I go into Boston every day for work. So I'm still in the city part of the time.
Owain [00:03:43] Yeah, yeah.
Laura [00:03:44] But we do, we do get a lot of mosquitoes and ticks.
Owain [00:03:50] Right.
Owain [00:03:56] I mean, when you say mosquitoes and ticks, they're quite normal aren't they in...in various parts of the world?...Is...Does, does it cause you a problem?
Laura [00:04:03] Well, so...so the ticks I think partly there's this American concern over over health care they...they get very anxious about things. So the, the risk of anything is is exaggerated slightly....
Owain [00:04:18] OK.
Laura [00:04:18] ...over there, um, ticks are all over Europe as well. But they do they do carry Lyme disease. So you can get them in Scotland.
Owain [00:04:27] Oh really?
Laura [00:04:29] I think they're more in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. I don't know why.
Owain [00:04:31] You said they can carry Lyme disease.
Laura [00:04:33] Lyme disease.
Owain [00:04:35] What is that?
Laura [00:04:36] So Lyme disease is...I think is an infection of the brain, which makes you very ill.
Owain [00:04:45] Right. Ok. And just by walking around outside in the woods or in your garden, you can pick these things up.
Laura [00:04:53] Yeah, it's mostly on deer ticks. If you get a dog tick, which is about five or six millimetres long, they don't really carry it. They're actually easier to find because...cause they're bigger. The deer ticks're, 're less than half the size.
Owain [00:05:08] Wow.
Laura [00:05:08] We found a dog tick on...on Caity last, last May.
Owain [00:05:10] I bet that was fun.
Laura [00:05:13] Yeah. So Caity's our two year old and I was just, er...I was just brushing her hair before bed and found this lump and pushed the hair aside. And it was this little insect that had attached itself to the back of her head. Because they as you brush past, if you've got bare skin if you brush past long grass or leaves, they, they hide out in the bottom of the leaf.
Owain [00:05:39] Right, right.
Laura [00:05:39] And then...
Owain [00:05:40] Jump.
Laura [00:05:40] Jump. Well, they don't really jump. They just get brushed off. But then what I didn't know is once they're on your skin, they crawl up into, uh, into areas with, with...that are warm and dark with a good blood supply.
Owain [00:05:56] R...OK.
Laura [00:05:56] So if you've been out in the woods, you need you need to check your arm pits...
Owain [00:06:01] Scrub your...yeah...nooks and crannies.
Laura [00:06:01] Your groin and the back of your head.
Owain [00:06:06] Okay. Well, I mean, ticks and diseases aside wi...that hasn't been the entirety of your experience in the US. So, how long have you been there now?
Laura [00:06:16] It's coming up to three years, actually, it'll be three years.
Owain [00:06:19] Okay. So, great things about living in the U.S. What can you tell us?
Laura [00:06:23] There is so much going on for young families. They they have this this boundless enthusiasm that that they they're not embarrassed by.
Owain [00:06:33] Right.
Laura [00:06:34] There's this a little edge of cynicism to everything in British life, I f...I feel.
Owain [00:06:40] Oh ok. That's interesting.
Laura [00:06:41] Having lived away now, um, you know, there would be a certain amount of sneering, I think, at the Fourth of July parade or the Santa parade.
Owain [00:06:51] Right. Okay.
Laura [00:06:52] ...which um...So the the the Santa parade. They they have Santa in a car and a load of other people from the town in a car. They drive down the street. They throw sweets out onto the road and the children scurry around, picking up all the sweets.
Owain [00:07:09] Actually that sounds pretty similar to something they do in Spain, um, for the three King procession. Yeah.
Laura [00:07:15] Oh for the...Yeah.
Owain [00:07:15] Yeah, which is the same idea. It's interesting. So, so you feel that perhaps for English people or British people there's...they're a bit too earnest.
Laura [00:07:25] Yes.
Owain [00:07:25] Because there's a very interesting book by a woman called Kate Fox called Watching the English. And this is one of the rules that she highlights that the British abide by, and that is that you can't do anything in...too earnestly. You've got to always make, take...make fun of things and...be a bit cynical.
Laura [00:07:46] You can't be completely wholehearted.
Owain [00:07:48] Yeah, exactly.
Laura [00:07:49] Yeah.
Owain [00:07:50] Which, you know, we don't notice most the time, I think. But perhaps when you move abroad, it's something that stands out quite a bit.
Laura [00:07:56] Yeah, it's just by contrast. And it makes me feel like it's a really good place for a childhood.
Owain [00:08:04] Right.
Laura [00:08:04] In the in the States, because...
Owain [00:08:06] You're not knocked down by sarcasm and er...
Laura [00:08:08] Exactly. And it's just fun.
Owain [00:08:16] You're allowed to dream. Okay. So that's good. So, so good atmosphere for bringing children up. Very positive atmosphere. Any, any problems you've had while you've been out there apart from, you know, the wildlife?
Laura [00:08:30] So in...in the workplace, it's taken a little while to get used to. They are, although they dress more casually,...
Owain [00:08:38] Yeah.
Laura [00:08:38] ...they are actually more rigid and formal in their in their organizational structures.
Owain [00:08:44] Interesting. Ok.
Laura [00:08:46] So I've I've always been very vague about who my manager actually was. And it didn't really matter. And it wasn't this kind of linear reporting structure.
Owain [00:09:00] Right.
Laura [00:09:01] But when I went to the US, I had an assigned supervisor. Everything goes through him from...
Owain [00:09:06] Right.
Laura [00:09:08] ...expenses to training to timesheets and I find it a little bit stifling.
Owain [00:09:16] Would you say that they're a bit behind the times?
Laura [00:09:18] Yes.
Owain [00:09:19] Yeah. They just haven't, haven't moved on to modern working practices, in some ways.
Laura [00:09:24] Yeah. My office is quite unusual because we actually have an open plan office there. The norm is that you have a cellular off..., cellular office plan, people have their little own offices.
Owain [00:09:41] Right?
Laura [00:09:42] Before I moved over, we'd just started hot desking in the UK. So no one has an assigned desk. You have your docking station.
Owain [00:09:53] Docking station.
Laura [00:09:54] You bring your laptop in in the morning. You have a little locker...
Owain [00:09:56] Right.
Laura [00:09:57] ...for your things. And it means that you can be a bit more dynamic about who you're sitting with. You can you can be with whatever team you you want to work with at the time.
Owain [00:10:08] Yeah.
Laura [00:10:08] In the US, that is absolutely unheard of. People have...
Owain [00:10:12] Wow.
Laura [00:10:12] ...the the mountains of stuff at their desks and fixed seating that is familiar from a decade ago.
Owain [00:10:19] I suppose that's characteristic of the U.S., isn't it? It's one of the most advanced countries in the world but at the same time, one of the least developed in many ways.
Laura [00:10:27] In some in some ways I think they they might be less than happy to be described that way.
Owain [00:10:35] Yeah, well, I don't live there I'm okay, I don't know any Americans so....
Laura [00:10:41] Yes, you do.
Owain [00:10:42] Er, do I?
Laura [00:10:43] Don't you?
Owain [00:10:46] I don't think so.
Laura [00:10:46] Oh, anyway.
Owain [00:10:49] Anyway, so just to just to finish off, would you...? Are you planning on staying there for much longer or are you going...are you there for life or are you planning on moving somewhere else at some point?
Laura [00:11:00] Don't know. They gave us greencard.
Owain [00:11:02] Oh, does that mean you can stay there for for life?
Laura [00:11:04] So, that that means we're officially permanent residents, we're resident aliens.
Owain [00:11:08] OK.
Laura [00:11:10] It lasts for 10 years, at which point you can renew the green card or you can apply for citizenship. Our youngest is actually an American citizen 'cause she was born over there...
Owain [00:11:22] She was born there yeah.
Laura [00:11:24] But I'm not I'm not sure we'll stay that long. The the reasons are kind of familiar to to anyone who's living away from home, I think, with aging parents and family ties, you start to feel like maybe if you're going to be needed back home.
Owain [00:11:44] Right.
Laura [00:11:46] And the other thing for me is, is really about cultural identity. It's not. It's not despite the mockery that I have a problem with Americans, I think...I know some some wonderful Americans...It's just, I can't imagine my children being a different culture to me...
Owain [00:12:05] Yeah. Well and...
Laura [00:12:08] ...and not having the same...that common ground.
Owain [00:12:10] Well, that's a thing. You're not American. And it would would be, I mean, it does happen, but it would be a little unusual for you to have American kids given that you're, you're British.
Laura [00:12:20] Yeah.
Owain [00:12:22] And really the most comfortable thing is, is for you to come back and then to give them the rest of their education here in the UK.
Laura [00:12:28] Yeah, so that they have...they've had an experience of living abroad, but they, they still have common experience with us.
Owain [00:12:35] Yeah. Yeah. Have they started picking up the accent yet?
Laura [00:12:37] A little bit.
Owain [00:12:38] Yep.
Laura [00:12:38] There's the occasional word.
Owain [00:12:39] Yeah.
Laura [00:12:39] I think it's impressive.
Owain [00:12:41] I've heard you actually saying things like 'Did, did you do that already? Or something, something like that.
Laura [00:12:48] It's started creeping in.
Owain [00:12:49] Rather than 'Have you done that already?' Uh, which is something you'd probably hear over here. Although, I don't know. Things are changing.
Laura [00:12:58] 'Have you done it yet?'.
Owain [00:12:59] Ooh, sorry - 'yet'...yes sorry 'Have you done it yet?'.
Laura [00:13:02] Well, but I have to change the way I speak because my colleagues don't understand me.
Owain [00:13:06] Well, exactly. No. And that's part of moving to another country. I think it's. I think it's normal to adapt to your surroundings and to embrace the culture to a point. And you want to communicate, yeah.
Laura [00:13:18] Yeah.
Owain [00:13:19] Anyway final word. Anything else you want to say about the US? Sum, sum it up in three words before we finish. Sorry, that's a tough one, isn't it?
Laura [00:13:30] No, I can't.
Owain [00:13:31] Okay, that's three words. Well done. Thank you very much for coming Laura and um hopefully we'll have you on again sometime.
Laura [00:13:37] Okay.
White Picket Fence