So, just when I thought I had a particularly Canadian voice, on two separate occasions in the last few weeks I’ve been told by UK natives that I sound Irish! Apparently, these 5-6 years living in London have softened my accent - unbeknownst to me…! I think I still sound the same as I always have, but our cultural surroundings do have a way of seeping in and shifting things around a little, especially when we’re not looking.

When I’m here in the UK, my Canadian-ness feels particularly distinct in relief against the local backdrop. I think most ex-pats would agree that a fundamental part of the experience of living abroad is the conundrum of national identity. Because I am so far away from what I have known growing up and living in Canada, it all seems that much sharper in my focus here.

I am much more sensitive to anything that sounds or looks even remotely familiar from “home”. I couldn’t resist wishing a fellow passenger Happy Canada Day this year when I saw him negotiating a busy London bus, a hockey stick in one hand and a bag stuffed full of goalie equipment in the other! Who knew there were professional hockey tryouts in London in July?!

The longer I spend in the British Isles, the more I am influenced by and take on British culture, developing a new perspective from which I approach my relationship with my cultural and national identity and the rest of the world.

Each time I return to the other side of the pond for a visit, I am increasingly aware of a slightly discombobulating sense of detachment that seems to have crept up on me. I’ve changed, but not in a way that I can articulate concretely – it’s just an awareness that I’m neither really “from” here nor there. I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently as I prepare for a trip back to visit family for Christmas – the first time in just over a year and a half. I am so looking forward to a white Christmas at home with family, but I am a little bit apprehensive about feeling like an outsider in my own country.

I was recently cast in a project that was a short day of filming, but it was the first bit of acting I have done in quite a long while. Prior to marrying one of the locals, I had been in the UK on short-term visas that didn’t allow me to work. Now that I am permitted to take on employment once again, I can get back into performing. It’s been a bit of a slow restart, so when this opportunity came along, I was so pleased to stretch my acting muscles even a little.

Because I had been out of the swing of things for some time, there was a lot of anticipation for the big day and uncertainty about how I would feel returning to performing. Would I be able to do it? Would I still enjoy it? In the same way that spending time away from one’s native country can lead to a feeling of subtle alienation, I had developed an acute sense of being on the fringes while only being able to peer into a very familiar world at a distance. Would I really be able to go home again?

I suppose this can happen anytime there is an extended period where the projects are fewer and further between than we might like, and perhaps this is compounded by the fact that as North American actors, we may already feel as if we’re on the outside looking in.

The filming was a really positive and lovely experience, and after a bit of readjustment, I was able to settle into things again, if a little changed from the last time I had done any acting. It was a homecoming of sorts - I felt welcome and everyone else thought I was meant to be there! As with the very best friendships and familial relationships, you can be apart for ages, and pick up right where you left off the last time you were together. It’s given me the confidence to carry on looking for acting work knowing that no matter how much time I spend away from it, ultimately, there is something undeniable that continues to draw me in to the glow of home.

So, as I think about making a trans-Atlantic trip, I wish you all the warmth of the Season and the very best success in the New Year!