Since it’s nearing the end of my time here (and very significantly nearing the end of my time on my actual exchange program, which finishes tomorrow) I thought I’d run down a couple of the ridiculous phrases the Americans use. For posterity and for those people who, like I did when I was applying, obsessively google ‘The Mountbatten Institute’ and end up looking at some random girl’s blog.
Ridiculous Phrase #1 – “Can I get…”
“Can I get a coffee?”, “Can I get a bagel?”, “Can I get a sandwich?”. Certainly. Here are the ingredients, there are the utensils, the kitchen’s back there. It’s a bit unorthodox, but- oh. Oh, I’m sorry. You’re ordering? You want me to get it? You would like to have those things? That makes so much more sense. Maybe you should ask for that in the future…
Ridiculous Phrase #2 – Reach out
“Please reach out to me if you need further information”. My parents have already widely criticised me for this when they had the misfortune of receiving my out of office which asked them to reach out to my team if they had an urgent query.
It just sounds so… Desperate. For an entire year I’ve been told to reach out to people and I get a very clear mental image of stroking their face. And not in a kind of caressy way I’m making it sound, either. We’re talking stick your arm out wipe your hand down the front of their face with a bit of force, poking them in the eye on the way.
It’s the clingiest-sounding phrase. I’m so happy I never have to reach out to anyone ever again. I’ve never been uncomfortable with that level of neediness. I’m cold and English and the idea of reaching out is actually against my cultural identity.
Ridiculous Phrase #3 – Circle Back
“I’ll find out and then I’ll circle back with you.” Or you could just tell me… What, you have to find out the information and then dance about it? Oh wait. Circling back is a thing where people talk? Yeah. No it isn’t.
Ridiculous Phrase #4 – Speak to
“Nicola, you just spent a year living and working in a foreign country. Can you speak to that experience?” No I can’t. Because it is physically impossible. I can speak about it, if you really want. But you can’t speak to experiences. They just. Don’t. Listen.
These four things have been my bugbear this past year, and the cause of many an eye twitch. I write this here not to be provocative, but merely to express my wish that I be immediately slapped if I ever say any of these things in anyone’s presence. Please reach out to me for further inf-oh. Shit.