Monday, 20 July 2009

Brits Abroad

I was reading "Not Waving but Drowning" blog and GG has been talking about British buying/selling properties in France, and it reminded me of the things that I find irritating about the British abroad.

As far as British holidaymakers are concerned I used to get exasperated at how they expect to be able to find everything here that they would find at home and how disgruntled they become when they can't. Now I don't get exasperated...I just avoid them.

Ex-pats are often not much better. There is a tendency to want to live surrounded by other ex-pats they create their own ghettos, where they can just speak English to each other and avoid the Turks...because they are too lazy to learn a little of the language and attempt to integrate. One English acquaintance who was living in Dalaman but hoping to move to Kusadasi around the time I was living in Selcuk, asked me to look out for suitable housing. Her words were "we'd like an apartment but we don't want Turkish neighbours" !!

I recall an English couple who had started a business in Goreme. Firstly, they really didn't know the area. They had previously had a partnership in a bar in Antalya with a Turkish man which hadn't worked out, and for some reason thought they could set up something similar in Goreme which was Chalk to Antalya's Cheese. They had to rely on the goodwill of Turkish people they met to help them out because their Turkish was non-existent. I remember them calling in for a coffee one day at the cafe where I was working. They were complaining bitterly that no-one in the Post Office could speak a word of English....I had to walk away before I said something rude...they were customers in the cafe after all, so I had to remain civil. The business failed incidentally...well to be more accurate it never actually got off the ground...which came as no surprise.

And talking of post offices, my English friends who live in Antalya (NOT the couple mentioned above) were telling me that they were in their local post office recently and an English man was having a great deal of trouble trying to make the assistant understand him. My friend offered to help, and it turned out that the English man was a Turkish post office, to buy his English road tax for his English car which was currently've guessed it...England....
Words fail me!


  1. Ah yes, the reason why we voluntarily exiled ourselves from the forum that dare not speak it´s name ha ha.
    Yes, I believe you. I find it both astonishing and infuriating.

    We get UK expats here too and I have to say that the Americans are far better at grasping the local lingo.

  2. Oh yes the forum that we no longer mention!

    I've just found your blog..I thought it was about time you made a start and it's great. Am looking forward more

    xxxx and ((( )))

  3. Something similar to the Pakistan and Indians in Britain, they all congregate together, I have never understood when you leave the country of your birth, why you would you want to live amongst them in another country.
    I will be back.

  4. That was thoroughly enjoyable read so I must, now, share something related from my past.
    I first had chance to find out about the 'Ugly Tourist' or 'Brits Abroad' my first visit to Skiathos, Greece. I was all of 25 and with my (then) boyfriend, Alistair (an upper-class twit from Harrow-on-the-Hill, all rather Old Etonian and Oxford, dear girl.)
    So we arrive for this two-week holiday, he had supposedly arranged the whole thing, and we get to the quay and he starts shouting, in very loud English, "I need a room for two! Hello? Can you hear me! Room for two near the quay!"
    "Uh, darling, this is Greece... people here speak Greek. Please don't shout, that's rude."
    "Bollocks to that, it's obvious you haven't travelled much, old girl. You see, everyone worldwide speaks English, you just have to force them into admitting it. Shout it in their faces loud enough and you'll see..."
    (No, seriously, he really said that. And no, I have no idea what I saw in him either.)
    I was appalled then and still am to this day how certain tourists, or ex-pats, regardless if Brit or Yank behave in a foreign land. Lord knows I see enough of it here in Central Brittany! :)

  5. Ann: I assume it's a sign of insecurity that foreigners abroad stick together...where's their sense of adventure? (Your last sentence sounds like Arnie Schwarzeneger..was it him who said that? hehe!)

    Hi Kitty...and welcome to my blog.

    Oh yes...I forgot to mention the "shout very loud in English" you've saved me the trouble! (Oh that old boyfriend sounds like a real horror!)

    I should have mentioned that the Turks also have a knack of trying to talk to foreigners in a language other than Turkish. If they happen to know some German they will speak to English people in German, assuming that any foreign language will be understood by any foreigner. Doesn't help if you tell them you can't speak German...they just continue...louder and slower..haha!

  6. There are good ex-pats, too. Here in Praia da Rocha (Algarve, Portugal), two of my best friends are British ex-pats who run a local bar. They've left England 10 years ago and never looked back. They've made many Portuguese friends, which literally cost them their customers from the British ex-pat community. Unfortunately, these two wonderful friends are the exception.
    The British tourists also tend to keep mostly to each other, and to seek out the British bars and fish & chip shops, rather than explore the local food.
    Only recently, a British tourist in Praia da Rocha could be overheard, wondering why there were so many Portuguese people in the Algarve...
    There are enough British ex-pats living in the Algarve to sustain a parallel economy of British businesses.
    As for the language issue, the fact is that the locals make it very easy for expats & tourists alike: almost everyone has at least a basic knowledge of the English language, and nobody sees it as an effort or an obligation to speak English. It has become completely natural.
    But then again, the Portuguese have a long history of moving towards other cultures. Centuries of tolerance and openness have left their mark.

  7. Hi astro. Yes of course there are exceptions and you have been lucky enough to find them. But they are rare. We have a handful of expat friends who I feel are like-minded, who want to integrate and open themselves up to the Turkish people and their culture.

    I have to admit that my Turkish is dreadful. I do try hard but I2m not good with languages. But I always make an effort and it's appreciated by the Turks.

  8. I hate most of the expats in our region - what is the point of moving to another country and then just wanting to mix with non-French. Most of them are just appalling

  9. Well hate is a strong word, but I admit to despising those who would arrive in a foreign country and eschew its virtues without a second thought.

    I think it is too easy to generalise, but as I am in that mood anyhow, most ex-pats are dreadful gossips, liars and slanderers.

    I've lost count of the number of times I've seen an English person having a go at a native for not understanding them - or not understanding English.

    Ayak, take care.

  10. FF: Unfortunately it's hard to find like-minded expats anywhere...but it is possible.

    TAF: Yes most of them are gossips, slanderers and liars. Why is that? Were they like that before they emigrated or did they change? Interesting.

  11. What happened to my post??.
    Please don't say I posted it somewhere else, said the witless one, though I don't think so, I only posted on yours this morning, I think ha!.

    I will write later, I will be back again, yes Arnie.

  12. Ann,

    ---lie starts---
    You posted it, and Linda deleted it
    ---lie ends---

    (I only said that because I'm an ex-pat)

  13. Ann..your post is still here...unless you posted another one?

    TAF: You've lost me now ??

  14. OK problem...just having a day where my sense of humour seems to have gone missing!

  15. Yes I posted another one yesterday, jeez confused or what, so wakey wakey Ann, that would be two I posted.

    TAF, so that's what happened, Ayak deleted, I'm an ex-pat, so I have to believe that.

    My post consisted of something alone the lines of, my sister lives in Dallas, somebody has to I suppose, she loves bingo, I abhor the game, when she was over a few years ago we went to the seaside place, Tramore, lo and behold, they had a bingo thingy place, she insisted, in we went, a brightly coloured board was in front of me, the bingo caller started, the number 33 came out, and I just fell about laughing, instead of 33, he said tirty tee, in such a thick Irish accent, I could not concentrate, and everyime the number 3 came out, the word tirty came with it, I was laughing so much, tears were falling down my face, I gave up and went outside, my sister was not amused with me, nothing new there, and every time I hear the word 3, I laugh, I suppose being an ex-pat, that behaviour is expected of me.

    All of my friends are Irish, I don't have an ex-pat amongst them.

    Did you find your sense of humour again Ayak.

  16. I swear some people leave their brains in the country they've left behind.


  17. Ann: Yes SOH recovered..yor story is very funny.

    GG: Yes I agree...if they had any to start with!

  18. Ann: My old M-I-L loved Bingo, so, on a holiday to the Isle of Wight (made famous because my heavily pregnant self (read huge arse) got stuck in the narrow cast-iron bathtub and hubby poured bath oil all over me, without telling me what it was, to help me get out, and I ended up covered in hives from waist down for the rest of the week [I'm allergic to Mineral Oil, which he knew, the lugnut]) so, I spent every evening playing this stupid game, to accompany her, since she wanted to go. So, to me, Bingo means hives, and I've never played it since, nor do I have plans to in future.
    Astro: Oh yes! We have many lovely ex-pats here, as well, agreed. Just, sadly, a few icky ones tend to paint the rest with a heavily-laden brush. Luckily, I've made many good friends here that are just that... friends, regardless of their origins.
    GG: Brains, yes... and maybe, their sense of propriety? I would never consider going up to someone in a foreign land and berate them for not knowing MY language, if I don't know at least SOME of theirs, *I* am the ignorant one, not them. But, I ran into that a lot, being in catering, people being rude to servers who didn't speak their Mother Tongue.
    Amagerican/Ayak: Ok, my curiosity is piqued... which forum? Don't say it out loud... just SPELL it. ;)

  19. Kitty: Nothing exciting. Amagerican and I first made each others acquaintance on a forum which is for visitors to a seaside resort here as well as ex-pats. We soon realised that we were like-minded souls as we both detested the narrow-minded, bigotted and prejudiced attitude that most of the members there possessed.

    I was very pleased to eventually meet up with Amagerican and his mum on one of their holidays here, and we've kept in touch ever since. Amagerican has just started blogging by the needs encouragement...something I was very pleased to receive from so many kind people when I first started a few months ago.

  20. Kitty it´s best not to open that can of worms ha ha.

  21. Thanks Ayak! You speak the truth.
    It really was beyond pale at times.

    I can´t imagine what it must be like to actually live with these people. I think I would go spare! :D

    It was such a pity we didn´t get to meet up in lovely Selcuk last year.


  22. Kitty, you win, yours was certainly worse than mine, much worse, not the getting stuck in the bath, though that was bad enough, nor hubby making things worse, but the fact you had to play bingo night after night, jeez, now that was torture of the worst degree.

    You think of hives when the word bingo is mentioned, I think of tirties, ( I even laughed when I wrote that ) though think hives might creep in now and again.

  23. I used to hang with the Brits here in Izmir but it was like a very mean-spirited soap-opera. Lots of drama and backstabbing and drinking. Almost every time they got together, somebody was bound to be in an argument or in tears.. or passed out. Every night drinking. At one Christmas party, two women got into it at a bar and one actually tried to strangle the other. The one with fingers around her neck was too worried about spilling her beer to fend her off. THAT IS NOT A JOKE.

    If they DIDN'T go out one night, it was something they used to confirm they didn't have an alcohol problem. And so often, they would sit at your table, made insults and then after three of four quick drinks, disappear without paying. But I finally left it all when I decided to stop smoking and reduce alcohol to a very low level. I just didn't fit in any more with that crowd.

  24. Hi Nomad. Gosh this is strange..going back to answer a comment on an old post!

    I the biggest problem with this type of ex-pat is that they continue to live as if they are on holiday. They don't actually live a normal life. I think perhaps we all do this a bit to start with until reality kicks in. Unfortunately those who just carry on tend to burn out eventually or become raging alcoholics.

    (thankyou for taking the time to read back over my blog xx)


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