I was confused as to why my then manager was laughing as I shared my weekly updates with the team. “No one can understand your accent,” he, a fellow Brit, explained as I then realised that although everyone could speak English, my thick Souf Lundon accent wasn’t going to fly with my predominately German teammates. It seemed that moving abroad was going to take more adapting than I had anticipated.
I’ve now been living in Frankfurt for six years (woohoo!), and I am so used to life in Germany that there are things that I once complained about here that I now have to adapt to when home in London:
- Crossing the road
Much to my dismay, I feel I have lost the ability to cross the road without a green man or zebra crossing to help me along the way (like most Germans – I joke – kinda.) Ok, that’s dramatic, but I do suddenly feel uneasy when sprinting across the middle of a busy road in London. In Frankfurt this is a big no-no. But in London, even my grandma does it. I was shocked!
- Sunday shopping
When I remember that you can in fact take a cheeky trip to Sainsbury’s on a Sunday in the UK (wild, I know!), I can’t quite work out how I feel. Am I happy about this luxury? Or is it a shame that instead of relaxing, I’m trying to work out whether my tote bag is big enough for the New York Bakery Co bagels and Linda McCartney sausages, or if I should just spend the 20p on an orange plastic bag? Hmm…
A friend’s birthday meal once started at 8pm, so I arrived at the restaurant bang on 8 – very chuffed as I was determined to show the Germans that I am not always late. And guess what!? Everyone was seated before I even arrived. In Germany you can still be late if you are on time! Nightmare. I love the freedom of it being ok to be (reasonably) late in London, but I’ve realised that I’ve become very aware of lateness. Too aware. I’m trying to shake this German trait that I seem to have picked up over the last six years. Because not every day rush, sometimes just take time.
Talking of not rushing, whilst I was waiting on a few friends in London (for what I would say is an unreasonable amount of time), I got speaking to someone I’d recently met. He couldn’t seem to place my accent and asked “Where are you from again?” (again!), as I wondered if the sound ‘Croydon’ sounded different coming out of my mouth as it did going into his ears. “… But your accent, is like, different.” And he was right. Six years of living and working in Frankfurt, and my accent has changed, or let’s say it’s adapted. If I talk super quick and pronounce words as ‘mee-ing’ instead of meeting or ‘y’arigh’ instead of ‘you alright’, many people just can’t work out what I’m saying. So I guess that naturally, I’ve come to speak slower and adapt my accent and pronunciation – also because I’m never around people from London when in Frankfurt, so naturally this has an influence.
Anyway, after spending a few weeks back home, I can assure you that my London accent is far from lost. Whilst the way you speak is a huge part of your personality, I’d say it’s also a reflection of my growth and development during my six years in Frankfurt. Plus, it’s great for all parties if people leave a meeting knowing what was actually said 😉
Happy 6 years to me!!