Student experiences differences in schooling, lifestyle between European, American cultures

Maddie Jewett, Features Editor

Junior Elliott Miller puzzles over a math problem at his desk.
It takes him a while to work it out, but once he finds the answer he sits back, relieved.
“Bob’s your uncle,” he says.
While most people might use phrases such as “ta-da” or “shazam,” this is not the case with Elliot.
He was born in Canterbury, England.
Elliott lived there until he was three years old, then he and his family moved to the U.S. for his dad’s job.
“The U.K. is basically like the U.S., but a European version, besides the fact that [the U.S.] is more isolated from the rest of the world,” he said. “In Europe, you could immediately get different cultures by driving a few miles. It’s kind of disappointing because I came here for the American dream and all that.”
He and his family first lived in Illinois, then moved to Kansas. In sixth grade, Elliott and his family went back to the U.K. for about three months to renew their visas.
Visas are cards that people who are not U.S. citizens get in order to live in the U.S. However, they expire after three years and have to be renewed.
Even after living here for 14 years, Elliott said being a citizen is not a priority to him.
“I don’t necessarily want to be a U.S. citizen,” he said. “Some people have the idea that ‘I’ve lived here for 14 years, shouldn’t it be my country as well?’ I’ve always almost rejected the idea of being part of the community.”
After living in the U.K. for part of his first year of middle school, Elliott said he misses the strictness of the schools in England.
“I miss the uniforms,” he said. “I think it’s a great idea for all schools. It unifies everyone and makes everything a lot easier to work by. Also, the teachers there aren’t necessarily your friends — they’re just there to teach you. I find that a lot more effective.”
While the enthusiasm here inspires him, Elliott said moving back to England after high school or for college is a possibility.
“I’d like to go back there to a very good engineering college and a very large engineering company,” he said. “However, if I get a scholarship here, then the decision would be slightly circumstantial. I’m planning on doing CAPS, and I’ve heard it’s a really good program.”
Elliott’s mother, Anne Miller, said living in the U.S. has given her son unique opportunities that he could not have experienced elsewhere.
“We’ve been very lucky because we’ve gotten to travel a lot with my husband’s job — 45 states, I believe,” she said. “[Elliott’s] been able to experience a lot of different people and a lot of different things.”
Elliot said everything in the U.S. is bigger than in England.
“In the U.K., the roads are smaller, and there are smaller cars,” he said. “I’ve always found it funny that back there a 7.4 liter is huge, but here it’s normal. That’s how I can relate to different countries — the style of cars.”
Anne said moving away from their family in England affected the way they raised their son.
“Raising him here, I’ve been totally on my own,” she said. “Obviously, I’ve got my husband, but there would have been a lot more family there. Also, the schools are different there, and he probably would have done extracurriculars in England.”
After the family renewed their visas and returned to the U.S., people began to bully Elliott.
This was in middle school, and he said the reason for it was that people saw him as different.
“I think there are two main reasons why I was bullied,” he said. “One, we were just learning more about the Revolutionary War, which was the Americans fighting the British Empire. I talked differently, and I think people almost kind of saw me as a past enemy. The other reason is just the fact that I was plain different. They couldn’t understand me. I had different ideas than other people, which I think kind of scared them.”
Elliott said being from a foreign country has become easier through the years.
“The situation was different even back in elementary and middle school,” he said. “No one really understood why I talked differently in elementary school. But then in middle school, I was outcasted because of where I came from, and the bullying escalated. However, when I went to high school, it was ironic because people were a lot more open to the fact of me being a foreigner.”