Josefin Malmqvist

How to become English: lesson 1

No, don’t worry. I’m not trying to remove my ‘Swedishness’. I promise! That’s not what’s it about. I am and will always be Swedish. Rather, I like to think that when you move to a new country; may it be for a week or the rest of your life, voluntarily or not, you should try to accustom or at least learn about to their traditions, routines, culture etc. So as long as I’m in England I’m going to try my best to be English – as far as that is possible. I must admit I feel a bit like “My Fair Lady”, but instead of learning how to become a lady – that might be the next project – I’m learning how to become English…

You shouldn’t be able to live a life in a foreign country without learning the language, getting to know the culture, the people etc., as is possible to do in my hometown Malmö. (Yes, where you can live an entire life without speaking a word of Swedish as has been proven.) That does not have to do with leaving your heritage though, as a lot of people tend to argue! No! That is the benefit of living in a multicultural environment. Different food, religions, traditions and so on enrich our lives and our perception of things.

The education may involve:
– Learning the National Anthem. (I’ve learnt most of it)
– Learning how to enjoy “local” sport, which definitely is an important part of the cultural heritage in this country. (I watched most of the rugby matches during the world championship, especially when England and Wales were playing, and playing each other! And yes, it is most enjoyable!)
– Wrapping yourself in the flag (Me and the flag; see picture)
– Language (Doing my best; working on it)
– Enjoying their food culture. (?) Well…

Today I took a new step I’ve long feared in my becoming-English-education: food. Yes, that’s right. And for those of you wondering, yes Britain has a food culture. May it not resemble much of the finesse of la gastronomie française or the splendors of Italian cuisine, but it still has traditions. And no it’s not about once in a while enjoying a fine pub meal with ale as it’s written in the guide books, but rather hard core English “cooking”. And cooking here involves heating in a microwave. (Gulp) So, today was The Day to try baked beans. It might not sound that bad, but white beans in tomato sauce is not my idea of great food and I’ve been traumatized ever since my first trip alone to Britain, 11 years old. I was forced to eat baked beans on untoasted toast bread every day for a fortnight.

Well, today’s experience wasn’t that bad, but I’m still hoping not all English people eat baked beans, so that there’s still hope for me to be a bit English…