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My Unofficial Oath of Immigration || 35 Things I Do to Integrate

1. I can speak English. I also understand English, and quite a few of the accents, although getting the jokes is sometimes tricky. So, I use subtitles while watching ‘Have I got news for you’ or ‘Mock the week’.

2. I show interest in sports. I can’t call myself a footie gal, but I do watch snooker, and find curling rather amusing.

3. I love pets or animals in general. I would report anyone hurting or kicking their dog to RSPCA without a doubt. I adore watching birds, squirrels and even slugs which seem to be in plentiful number this year.

4. I love a good laugh. I don’t get upset being called ‘sneaky f***g Russian’ as a joke like Boris the Blade from Snatch, even though I am Lithuanian.

5. I absolutely love walks in the countryside.

6. I don’t despise tea with milk, and I always look forward to the occasional full English breakfast. I’ve even come to love custard and Yorkshire pudding. Marmite is still in the pipeline though.

7. I celebrate Easter, Christmas, Mother’s and Valentine’s Day, and of course it’s hard to complain about general Bank Holidays (except that there are not enough of them). I also post tens of Christmas cards, and I sign them all personally. I even send RSVPs to event/function organisers if I am asked to.

8. I remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and will send out ‘Thank You’ cards / emails / letters as appropriate after attending a meeting, an event, a reception or a dinner party. I will even send ‘Thank you’ cards to estate agents and solicitors if they did a good job. I try to give feedback and testimonials to the companies who performed well, and give feedback (or complain) if they didn’t.

9. I will wait in queues at the Post Office. I will even let someone go ahead of me if they are merely getting one letter sent, and I have a pile of packages of various sizes. I gave up the queue jumping technique a long time ago.

10. I say ‘sorry’ if someone bumps into me.

11. I return the shopping trolley to the appropriate place. I give a shout if someone has left their pound coin in the trolley.

12. I purchase train tickets before boarding the train. I don’t use the lavatory if the train is not moving. I switch off my mobile to not disturb the fellow passengers. I try not to speak on the phone if there are other people trapped in the same carriage. I help others with their luggage or prams.

13. While on the train, I give up my seat to pregnant women, elderly or disabled. I feel embarrassed if they thank me more than once.

14. I roll my eyes along with fellow passengers if loud kids are annoying everyone with their mobile music-blasting gadgets. Under no circumstances do I interfere with such behaviour.

15. I support local businesses (i.e. bakery, florist, and newsagent).

16. I donate money to charities, I will support friends who do things for charity, and I shop at charity shops. I donate bric-a-brac, books and clothes to my local charity store.

17. I love a bargain. Car boot sales make an excellent Sunday pastime.

18. I am a true DIY worshipper. I am not ashamed to admit that I know how to crochet or make a patchwork quilt.

19. I attend local community meetings. I have signed up for the local council online message board, and I report any nuisances or problems that I come across in the area. I watch out for my neighbours.

20. I will call Crimestoppers if I notice an individual matching the description of a suspect.

21. I recycle my rubbish, and I have a compost heap in my back garden. I pay the local council to remove my excess garden waste.

22. I mow the lawn, I plant flowers, and I don’t throw BBQ parties in the front garden.

23. I pay taxes, NI contributions, council tax, TV licence, insurance, and just about anything I cannot escape from paying. I do not claim any benefits and never have.

24. I love British drama, sitcoms, stand-up, and TV comedy shows like QI and Catherine Tate Show. To prove my love, I even went to London Studios to sit in the audience for ‘News Knight with Sir Trevor McDonald’. I laughed too.

25. I try to crack jokes. I mean, I have had some success in doing so, but it’s normally a bit hit and miss.

26. I follow current affairs. I can spot the difference between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This leads to the confession that I do vote.

27. I try not to use any comparison between ‘here, in Britain’ and ‘back in my country’. (Well, most of the time.)

28. I try not to show off the fact that I am fluent in three languages.

29. I have some British friends. I remember their birthdays. I try to pronounce their names correctly, and laugh when they can’t pronounce mine. I don’t disturb them at unsocial hours.

30. I don’t attempt to steal a married man (I feel disgusted by the likes of Katie Hopkins).

31. I won’t say no to a pint of shandy, a glass of sherry, or a bottle of wine. I will get a round of drinks when my turn comes.

32. I try not to stare at people, not to point fingers at them, not to touch them and not to hug them if they aren’t keen. I do not spit in public.

33. I return letters to the sender if the addressee no longer resides at my address. I never open any mail that is not in my name. I deliver the post to the appropriate door if the postman got it wrong.

34. I shower everyday. I roll my eyes if a fellow Eastern European standing next to me on the train hasn’t.

35. I love to moan. However, according to Kate Fox’s ‘Watching the English’, I am not allowed to whinge about the British weather as I am a mere immigrant. I can relate to a lot of things brought up by Grumpy Old Men / Women.

I can’t think of anything else that I should do to integrate better into this society. Any suggestions?

8 Responses

18 October, 2007, 8:30 am, Ruslanas said:

Sveiki atvyke i blogosfera! Dziugu kad atsirado dar vienas blogas Angliskai suisjes su Lietuva! Linkiu daug irasu, ir nepamirsti Tevynes 🙂

Aciu kad idejote mano bloga pas save, as padariau ta pati.

Iki maloniu!

Linkejimai

22 October, 2007, 1:15 am, Lina said:

Welcome on board! You need to be heard by native English speakers.

22 October, 2007, 10:38 am, Dominykas said:

Did you use to do these things ‘back in your country’? Are you going to do them if/when you decide to come back? Should the people ‘back in your country’ do them anyways to ‘integrate’ between themselves?…

Oh and you should excuse yourself BEFORE someone bumps into you.

13 December, 2007, 2:09 am, Edward R. Simaitis Cairns said:

I am astonished that we have so many ‘particularities’ when it comes to social integration! An enjoyable read, thanks!

24 April, 2008, 5:46 pm, Boak said:

What a thoughtful, intelligent and well-written article.

Sounds like you’ve got us bang on, although something about passive-aggressiveness would probably be accurate too (i.e. “I will get really angry if someone pushes in front of me but won’t say anything at all, except perhaps sigh with exasperation”)

The funny thing is that very few of these are actually significant if you look at them rationally – and some of these things are things we should be ashamed of (our suspicion of people who learn / speak foreign languages!)

But they’re exactly the kind of thing that moaning Daily Mail readers hit upon when they’re trying to come up with examples of why “this country isn’t like it used to be”.

Oh, and given that significant numbers of benefit fiddlers and tax dodgers are as British as vinegar on chips, you may want to reconsider number 23 🙂

25 October, 2008, 5:18 am, Michael from Mountains said:

Love your article and this site!
Great work!

I’m half-Lithuanian (my father’s parents immigrated from Lithuania around 1899 to the USA.) and half a mixture of British Isles (English, Scotch/Irish, Welsh) and French and German, with a touch of Native American thrown in for good measure! Some of those folks have been in North America since the 1600’s, and the Shawnee (Native Am.), of course, well before that.

Your efforts at blending in caused me to think of stories I’ve heard from the Lithuanian side of my family and from other families with recent immigrant pasts. All of the “Anglicazation” attempts, all of the teasing and outright prejudice. All of ethnic banding together. All of the prohibition by the family themselves of speaking Lithuanian (one of my Dad’s brothers tried this) in order to blend in and be more “American”. Most of it is gone today, but it had it’s impact.

I remember as a kid being teased about my Eastern European last name. My Lithuanian name was changed, like so many here in the States, to something different…it looks and sound Polish now. So, kids would tell “Pollack Jokes” to attempt to offend me. When I just laughed along or just showed no offense they were always disappointed.

Now in recent years we are seeing a new wave of Eastern European immigrants in the U.S. I’m always asking about home countries when I hear an accent and throwing out a few words that I might know in Polish, Russian, Slovenian or Lithuanian just to startle and delight the person! How can Americans gripe about immigrants. WE ARE a nation of immigrants. Except for my Shawnee Great/many Great/Grandmother, they were all immigrants whether they came here in 1660 or 1899.

I’ve also always laughed at any British person who complains about immigrants. I mean here they are just experiencing the just rewards of their former world-wide empire. When someone from one of their former colonies comes back to Mother England…? How can they complain? Also, who, in Europe are more mongrels, more of a mixture of ethnicities than the many-times-invaded British Isles? Celts, Normans, Norsemen, Angles, the list goes on and on! British history is absolutely fascinating because of it!

So! Hold your head high and understand that THEY have some adjusting to do to!

grins,

Michael From Mountains

27 October, 2008, 9:45 pm, Claire said:

Hello, just found your site and I am really enjoying it, but as a Brit living and working in Lithuania (Vilnius) do you have any hints for my intergration! I still stick out like a sore thumb – but this may be due to my inability to speak Lithuanian (although I am learning – but it’s a very difficult language and I’m completely baffled by cases)

27 October, 2008, 10:54 pm, admin said:

Thanks, everyone, for your time browsing around this site and leaving such thoughtful comments.

Time passes quickly and I’ve just realised that it’s been over a year since I posted this ‘Oath of Immigration’. Not a lot has changed though, I still speak English (which helps if you want to integrate, I must say) and I still enjoy good old fish n’ chips at our local.

Michael – thanks for sharing your story, and with regards to Polish jokes – we get them here, in the UK, too! I have a small collection of cartoons that were published in the UK’s press over the last couple of years and I don’t mind to share it. As long as we all agree that sometimes laughing at yourself is the best means of integrating.

Claire – well, depending on what sector you are working for (or the context you are living in), don’t decline any invitations to social/cultural events, even if you are going to be the only person who doesn’t speak Lithuanian. Lithuanians tend to do their best and really try to speak English, especially the younger generations, and even if you think it’s better to spend time with fellow expats, you might end up like many Lithuanians in the UK – isolated and restricted, and only capable to fully enjoy everyday life within their closed community.

I’d say go out exploring, see what happens, learn how to say ‘I don’t know any Lithuanian, but is that a problem?’ – in Lithuanian – and there will definitely be someone who will laugh and this might start a great conversation.

P.S. ‘I don’t know any Lithuanian, but is that a problem?’ in Lithuanian – Aš nekalbu lietuviškai, bet argi tai problema?

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