When Americans begin their questions with, “I know you might think this is a stupid question, but…” I can already feel myself bracing to conceal an instinctive eye roll. An Irish Sports Bar ‘Murphy’s’ is home to conversations which produce the best of these questions.
“Is there Facebook in England?”
“Do you have texting?”
“Do you have roads there?”
“Does England have water?”
And my personal favourite, “Are ‘England’ and ‘London’ considered interchangeable terms?” But perhaps we are not giving our transatlantic counterparts due credit, perhaps we should digress to look from the perspective Americans living in the state I am currently studying in, Illinois. If the United States of America was a very wide, fat face, Illinois would form its droopy right eye. It is the 25th largest of 50 states, by no means is considered a large state. Despite its relatively unexceptional size, Illinois is approximately 58,000sq miles, boasting an area 8,000sq miles larger than England. Yet England’s population is almost five times larger than Illinois’. In a country that small, with a population that big, I’m starting to think this brings to light some serious questions concerning England’s communication networks and infrastructure. Certainly, a nation this small doesn’t need facebook, a population this overcrowded would surely be so compact we would be rubbing shoulders with our top-friends at all times anyway. Yet even with such compact inhabitants, it’s becoming abundantly apparent that it is not England that has the denser population.
The more I realise England’s forgotten-about-down-the-back-of-the-sofa size, a sinking feeling of guilt penetrates my very British and overly sentimental heart. I begin to appreciate that there is much to see in England on its doorstep, in its back garden, even in its lounge, that is overlooked just because it’s all too easy to assume your own home isn’t nearly as interesting as someone else’s.