Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Monthly Archives: May 2014

On being the token Yank: “Are you British or Australian?” …um….




So I started doing a bit of creative writing teaching in the Singapore schools. So much fun. Love kids. Now I’m the token white person and the token Yank 🙂 Anyway, at the end of the lesson, this little girl comes up to me.  Here’s our dialogue:

“Miss Sarah, are you Australian or British?”

“I’m American. Which one did think I was?” I ask.

“Australian.” She smiles up at me.


“Because of how you talk.”

Nope, I’m this:

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(Side note: I DO NOT agree with the above meme, let me be clear. Let’s be real for a second, we all can be obnoxious in certain…situations, let’s just say. Except Canadians 😛 They’re so nice and polite. Do they even have an obnoxious chant? I guess maybe “Oh, Canada!…” I don’t know the rest, sorry Canada. I blame my mom for not teaching me.)

This is definitely not the first time someone from Singapore thought I was Australian after I talk. Not that there’s anything wrong being Australian of course. To be fair, I can’t recognize different Southeast Asian accents in English and most of the white people here are Australian so it’s a safe assumption. Maybe it’s because I wear flip flops a lot or maybe I just don’t look British. Who knows. Either way, it’s pretty amusing 🙂

Have you ever had an experience like this traveling abroad? Can you recognize different groups of people based on the way they look or dress? (hope I didn’t open a can of worms with that last question)

On being the token Yank: Things my British friends say (that I wish I could)



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So as I mentioned in my previous post, over in Singapore, I have loads of British friends and that’s who I hang out with the most. One of the most fun parts of this, for me, is learning the dialect differences–as there are many. My friends have also unknowingly been my research subjects! They’ve helped me write a bunch of my characters in my novel, which is set in the UK. Today I’m posting a list of some of the words my friends use that I find awesome but don’t feel I have the street cred to use. It would just sound weird if I said it. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of vocabulary differences, though perhaps some day……

Gutted (this is my favorite I think): like you’re devastated. Like “Arsenal lost and I was just gutted.”


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Knackered: tired/beat

Shattered: tired

Dodgy: sketchy, questionable

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Posh: upper class and likely snobby. Yeah, like Posh Spice, but I’m not sure why she was called Posh Spice. My friends don’t use it in a complimentary fashion, particularly when talking about posh Londoners. There’s also posh accents. I’d say that posh British people are what Americans might stereotypically think of all British people as being (which is obviously not true lol). We’d probably consider those old money Martha’s Vineyard types that play polo posh in the US.

 Posh at the Duke of York's theatre

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Wanker: idiot. Wank means to masturbate, so wanker would be one who masturbates, but this is used as a generally insulting term.


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Rubbish: garbage or crap. This can refer to actual garbage, like “Put it in the rubbish bin” or generally to desribe a situation or thing that is crap or no good, like “That’s rubbish.”

Chav: white trash. Also maybe like a poser, too.


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Bollocks: literally means balls, but is used in many ways. Used in isolation, I think it means like bullshit. Examples of uses in sentences: “Bollocks you do” “That’s a load of bollocks” “Made a bollocks out of it.” “Bollocksed it up.”  Also, that’s the dog’s bollocks, which apparently means it’s awesome.


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The loo: the bathroom. Example: I’m going to nip to the loo. I’m going to quickly go to the bathroom. I will say I’ve stopped calling it a bathroom and call it a toilet instead as, at least in public places, there is no bath in it

A few phrases I’d like to use:

  • Couldn’t be bothered
  • if you/do you fancy…: would you like to…
  • I’m keen to…: I’d like to….
  • I’m going to the cinema to see a film

Also, I’d like to use those little xx after text messages or other messages.  like “See you tonight! xx”

I’m sure I’ll have a follow up post to this.  Not sure what next post’s topic will be, but I’ll definitely do one about words I say my British friends don’t know 😛

Have you encountered words other people say that you either started using or wished you could use? Also, did I get any definitions wrong?

Non-writers just don’t understand…. Writer’s High


ImageHave you ever been so in the zone while writing that you looked at your clock and went, crap it’s been four hours? Yeah, I love those days when the words just flow and you can tell it’s amazing stuff flying out of your fingers. I like to call it the writer’s high. Now sometimes that flow gets interrupted by things like dinner plans or obligations to go out with friends….

Really though, I love them all but sometimes I want to be like NOOOO can’t leave, magic happening!

Does this ever happen to you?

On being the token Yank, an introduction



Image from though apparently the website got hacked.

(Holy crap that eagle is scary. Don’t mess with America or he’ll eat your soul! Seriously though, I’m a nice American, not a scary one)

My Husband: So I just got offered a position in Singapore. What do you think?

Me: Um…is that by China somewhere?

No, no it is not. Well, I mean kind of it is, I guess. Relatively speaking….

Anyway, many steps later, we’re living in the tiny island nation of Singapore (see map below). A few quick boring demographic notes about Singapore: 74% Chinese, 13% Malay, 9% Indian. There is also a sizable population of Westerners here as well, mostly brought in by companies to do specific jobs, and a large number of foreign domestic workers and foreign workers here to do construction jobs. Most people speak English (mostly the British variety, but mixed with American vocab) or Singlish (a mix of a variety of dialects including English, Hokkien, Tamil, Malay, and Cantonese).


Over here in Singapore I just don’t know many Americans, even though I’m sure there are plenty. I hang out mostly with English, Scottish, Australians and a few locals who also speak the British variety of English. Weird, right? Travel to the other side of the world to hang out with people from a different side of the world. It’s amazing how similar we seem when surrounded by Asians haha.

Anyway, being surrounded by people who are NOT Americans has taught me quite a lot about the United States. I was over here during the government shutdown. Try explaining that fiasco! Um, no actually President Obama can’t just restart the government…  It’s also helped with my writing tremendously. Stay tuned for all my random musings and observations on the topic.!

Next post topic: Things my British friends say that I wish I could

Have you ever experienced being the token______? What were some of the things that really struck you?

Autumn in Wisconsin


Autumn in Wisconsin

Taken at Mirror Lake State Park, Baraboo, Wisconsin, 45 minutes north of Madison. One of my favorite Fall pictures ever.