Thursday, March 13, 2008

Conversation with a Californian Undergraduate

CalUG: Where are you from, you have an accent?
Me: Edinburgh, Scotland, and I went to university in London.
CalUG: Oh WOW, I've always wanted to travel there! I want to do a year abroad in the UK!
Me: You should, it's a great experience, my cousin did a semester in Florence, and really enjoyed it, I did a year abroad too!
CalUG: Really, where did you go?
Me: Here.
CalUG:...*blank look*
Me: *waiting for it to sink in*
CalUG: Oooooh! Here is "abroad" for you!
Me: Yup, odd isn't it?

Actually she was bright and fun to talk to, some people I've had the same conversation with never get there themselves, and don't quite get it even when I point out that I was one of the UK students being exchanged for a US student, hence "exchange student". It was such a classic moment of watching her world view expand just a little bit. I'm used to people viewing my home town as a place to visit, and to go to university, it's a major holiday and student exchange destination. I'm used to thinking of "abroad" and "foreign" as relative terms, entirely subjective, it still surprises me when I realize that to a large majority they are absolute terms. Though I suppose that absolute definition of "other" does explain a lot about what goes on in the world.


K said...


It does rather depend on your viewpoint. And how hard you're concentrating. Once, when we were on holiday in Denmark, my dad had a conversation with an American traveller who complimented him on his excellent English.

I think he may possibly not have caught where Dad said he was from. Or so I hope.

Rosemary Grace said...

Scots, Danes, who can tell the difference?

Isabelle said...

Re your comment on my post, my house was in Milton Road East, along past the King's Manor Hotel - the railway was in a cutting, down from the house. But I suppose it was the same railway.