Despite thinking the English language is the English language, wherever you are in the world, it’s not. British English is a whole different organism compared to American English.
For at least the first 5 years after I moved here, even to today, I hear words, turns of phrase, and cultural references that I have absolutely no idea what they mean. I’m in a constant state of “What did you say?” If I have to speak to a person I don’t know on the phone, I often have to close my eyes, in an effort to cut out visual stimulation, so I can focus on the words and accents.
I am getting better at recognising regional accents, but am nowhere near the skill of my husband, who can narrow down accents to a section of town. I couldn’t even do that in the States. My family in the States say they can tell that my accent is changing. I can’t, except for small turns of phrases like, “bits and bobs”or “you all right?”
I suppose it eventually seeps in. I still hear my nasally American accent when I speak, and I’m still the person in my rural village with the funny accent.