21 Words That Have A Totally Different Meaning When You’re An American Ex-Pat In Britain

Home? WHICH ONE.

1. Visa.

ThinkStock / tpnagasima

What it used to mean: A type of credit card.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: The single most important (and expensive) piece of paper you own.

2. Vacation.

ABC / Via news.com.au

What it used to mean: Time off from work or school, usually spent relaxing.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: Time from work or school during which you spend thousands of pounds to travel back to America and spend 14 days in your family home, surrounded by relatives, all of the time, usually spent relaxing not at all.

Also: Sometimes, to mix things up, it’s actual family vacation. Yup.

3. Dinner.

Flickr / Via Flickr: alexkehr

What it used to mean: A meal after lunch, and before your next breakfast.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: Something you rarely have any more because you keep grabbing “a drink” after work and have developed a strange relationship with the man who works at your local kebab restaurant.

4. Beer.

Flickr / Via Flickr: rob_nguyen

What it used to mean: Miller Lite. Bud. Coors.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: A multifaceted invention that you soon learn fixes all, and can be found pretty much everywhere. It’s how you’ve bonded with British people, and also how you’ve gained weight.

5. Summer.

Flickr / Via Flickr: distillated

What it used to mean: The season after spring, and before autumn.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: A distant memory that you see in flashes, usually in mid-June and late July. It lasts for mere days and is celebrated with ice cream and BBQs.

6. Winter.

HBO

What it used to mean: The season before spring, and after autumn.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: The only constant in your life. In Britain it’s either really hot or winter. Winter is never coming, it’s always just HERE.

7. Home.

Thinkstock / can72

What it used to mean: The place where you live.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: The place where you live, the place where you lived, the place where you grew up, America, the U.K., where your family is, IT’S COMPLICATED.

Also: A song by Michael Bublê that tears you apart every time you hear it. #embarrassing

8. Target.

What it used to mean: The aim of an attack, or a round board you throw darts at. Also a shop you would occasionally visit.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: TARGET IS MECCA. The joy of your life. The best store in the world. The thing you miss most about America. YOU MISS IT SO.

9. WhatsApp.

Flickr / Via Flickr: janpersiel

What it used to mean: Slang: a fun way of asking somebody how they are.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: Literally the only (and most affordable) way you can get all of your family to communicate with one another, and the best invention ever.

10. Phone call.

Thinkstock / adrian brockwell

What it used to mean: Using a telephone to communicate with someone, usually lasting 15 minutes.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: A call made using a VoIP service, usually Facetime or Skype, that lasts at least 90 minutes in which you try to catch up and remember to tell your family members everything that’s happened to you in the last couple of weeks. You will forget something. The connection will get interrupted. Your grandma won’t be able to sort out the video on her phone, but it’s the thought that counts.

11. Thanksgiving.

What it used to mean: An American holiday spent eating turkey and pumpkin pie.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: An American holiday in which you hunt down all of the restaurants in London that are doing a Thanksgiving-style meal, or cook your own and introduce all of your British friends to foods like sweet potato casserole with marshmallows.

12. Christmas.

Universal Pictures

What it used to mean: A holiday celebrated on 25 December.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: A very expensive trip back home, or a day spent being miserable because you miss your family. (Although you do get Boxing Day and like an entire week off so it’s FINE.)

13. Drinks.

Thinkstock / IvanMikhaylov

What it used to mean: Beverages, perhaps of the alcoholic nature.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: An activity that lasts four to five hours in the evening although you were only going for “one”.

14. Refill.

Flickr / Via Flickr: xurde

What it used to mean: A top-up of your current beverage.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: YOUR GOD-GIVEN RIGHT TO FREE TOP-UP OF YOUR COCA-COLA THAT IS ROUTINELY DENIED IN THE U.K.

15. McDonald’s.

Flickr / Via Flickr: nyuhuhuu

What it used to mean: The cause of the obesity epidemic, a place you went sometimes if you were on a road trip.
What it means to an ex-pat: A little slice of home and a place you visit when you’re drunk (or when you’re in a country and the local food confuses you).

16. Starbucks.

Flickr / Via Flickr: mseckington

What it used to mean: A huge, commercial coffee chain.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: A place where you’ll find every American ex-pat that lives within a 2-mile radius, usually asking for an embarrassingly complicated drink or swooning over a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

17. Commute.

Flickr / Via Flickr: tompagenet

What it used to mean: Hoping in your car, and driving for no more than 30 minutes.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: An hour-long torture session usually spent cradled in the armpit of a suity man on the Central Line.

18. Health Care.

BBC / Via Scott Bryan

What it used to mean: A stressful but necessary thing that involved a lot of paperwork and money being taken out of your paycheck.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: THE ALMIGHTY NHS.

19. Customs.

Flickr / Via Flickr: celesteh

What it used to mean: Traditions that have been in the family or a culture for years.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: The horrifying process as part of BORDER CONTROL and IMMIGRATION at an airport that makes your blood run cold even though you have papers! And visas! You’re legit! Ohgodpleaseletmebackin.

20. “Where are you from?”

 

What it used to mean: A question you ask when you’re curious where someone grew up.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: A very confusing question that could mean either: “Where do you work?” or “Which country are you from?” or, when asked aggressively by a drunk man in a pub, a terrifying inquiry.

21. Homesick.

What it used to mean: You felt a bit sad in the middle of the night when spending the night at a friend’s house.
What it means when you’re an ex-pat: The feeling you get when you’ve not been home for 10 months and you won’t be able to afford it for another four. :( :( :(

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