Emma Barker

October 18, 2012

Mrs. Zuba

England vs. America

In have no family here. Sometimes I feel like I don't belong, especially during the holidays. Every year at Thanksgiving all of my friends tell me about their traditional family dinner with both sides of their huge family. They all sitting at an extended table, sitting elbow to elbow, sharing laughs, and repeating the same stories every year. My friends tell me when they were little they used to run outside and play kickball or soccer with their cousins. They tell me about grandma's famous pumpkin pie, and about their funny drunk uncles. This is not my family. We don't celebrate thanksgiving, and we never see each other on Christmas. I always try to see them at least once a year, and when we do everything's changed, however we have our own traditions.

Every year I arrive at my cousin's house in England I am surprised to see that they are almost the same height as me. I remember when they were born, and it makes me sad to think that time doesn't stop when I'm not with them. My whole family lives in England on both sides of my parents. On my mom's side there is my Aunts Penny and Glenys and my Uncles Marcus and Anthony, and finally my cousins Elliot and Emilia, Lucy, Ellie, and Elizabeth (aka Tizzy). On my dad's side my aunt Petta, and her multiple past husbands, and my cousins Alex and Molly. As well as my grandparents: Nonnie and Grandad, and Grandma. Unlike the original traditions families celebrate our own traditions. We always celebrate Christmas when we see each other in the summer. We make a big roast dinner, wear the traditional Christmas hats, and get small presents. Another tradition that we have been celebrating for many years now is our "summer birthdays" celebration. Everyone with a summer birthday gets to blow out candles and unwrap presents from the cousins. England is different from America because I have no family in America, and I've never known what it's like to have a family living close to me. I can't text or call my cousins whenever I want without the phone bill shooting up, I can't drive over to their houses to borrow eggs or bake cookies with them, and I can't go out to dinner with my grandparents every weekend. Because my family lives so far away, I notice the little things that I miss. However, missing these small "things" is not bad, it makes me treasure every minute I get to spend time with them.

My memories in both England and America are both very valuable to me, but they are both very different. My memories in England focus more around my family and very close friends that live there. Some of my fondest memories include making dances up to the songs from "Mama Mia" with my cousins, jumping on my cousins trampoline, and playing golf with my Grandad. However, the memories of people do not compare to the things I have seen in England. My biggest memory of England is whenever we go on walks or hikes we always stop at a pub afterwards for a drink and thick chips (French fries). All of the castles I've seen, all of the houses I've stayed at, all of the times I've toured inside London have implanted in my mind. Although I have seen so much in England already, I always see more and more when I go. This summer during the Olympics I had the privilege to see the triathlon in London. This is one of those memories that I will keep forever, and this is why England has become so important to me. My memories in America may be different and may not live up to the potential of seeing the Olympics, but they are still very important to me. Memories of my friends, concerts, sports, summer, my Cape Cod house, and even school. My life is in America so this is where my most fondest memories have been created.

The Lifestyle in England is very different from the lifestyle in America. After following my cousin who is a similar age to me, I realized that transportation, people, places, and even words are immensely different from home. Girls and boys my age don't need cars or their license, there is a bus stop around every corner. However, in America having a license is a necessity in the small town suburbs. Teenagers usually meet up at the park, or in town. To them "in town" is a huge shopping center, like an outside mall. I have also never seen a girl or boy our age dress up like a "slob" in England. Everyone there is wearing a perfect outfit, with the right amount of jewelry, and expensive shoes. Girls, and even boys, care so much about what they wear because they don't have the choice at school. All schools in England require their students to wear uniforms, so I believe outside of school is the only time they can express themselves with their clothing. This is very different from myself in America, I struggle everyday of the week to choose what to wear so on the weekends a common outfit for my friends and I is sweatpants. England also has many pubs. However their pubs are nothing like the Americanized "Piccadilly Pub." There is a pub around every corner owned by a local family. Living in England, my family knows exactly what are the best pubs to go to for Sunday brunch, and the worst. My life in England is very different from my life in America. For example, this past summer I went to England with just my Mom and we rented a small cottage with my cousins in a place called Northumberland. I was the only American for miles, and the only person that had a completely different accent. So therefore, I developed a small accent while I was there. The main reason why my life is so different from my life in England is in America, everything is about my friends or school, whereas while I'm in England my life is focused on spending quality time with my family.

Every year when the airplane touches down in England I feel a spark of joy inside me because I know I get to see my family, make new memories, and experience new places. Although my family is from England and I love visiting it, this is not my home. When it's time to pack up and head back to America, I can't help but smile. I miss my family every day when I'm home however, America is where I belong. My friends have become my family over the years and that's what pulls me back home. My life in both England and America is very important to me, however there is only one place I can call my home.