I seem to have, over the years, developed an ability to blend. Just like that awesome little self-camouflaging lizard.
People have asked me for a while now why I have an American accent. Now I've been to America three times in my life over the past 9 years and most recently in the January just gone, but I'm not from there, no family from there, and I don't really have any close friends with American accents. Plus I've never really been there for much longer than five weeks at a time.
My theory, though, is where my chameleon charm comes in - I pick up accents when I hear them for long enough.
This is mostly the case with European accents like various English ones, French and occasionally Irish - but very rarely Scottish (those ones are hard for me to drop into unintentionally). The American comes, jokingly pointed out to me by the parentals, by simply watching too much television. Now, as hilarious and kind of sad that is - it's probably true. I'd wager 95% of all the television shows I watch come from either Canada, America or the UK and so when that's what I hear I pick it up unintentionally.
I'm a pretty social person - I spend a lot of time with friends and family, but since I'm a second generation immigrant anyway I don't have a cornucopia of 'Australian' accents at home. I'm lucky I didn't pick up an Anglo-Indian twang instead. And its not as if where I'm from casts a huge source of 'Australian' accents - though when I'm overseas the people I meet seem to pick up that I'm from the Red Earth Island.
But a heavy influence of television isn't the only thing that impacts my malleable speech pathology; music, film and travelling does too. Usually accents don't transfer so much through song, but if you listen closely (especially in show tunes which I listen to a hell of a lot) you can hear the difference in the way that certain words like 'can't' are pronounced. In some cases it even changes the way the lyrics rhyme or not, and making an effort to sing them in the 'proper' (read: British/Australian way) isn't always easy. It's like learning by ear, and was one skill that helped me loads during high school French. Plus it still does when I'm travelling because it helps me to speak to the locals both in and out of English.
It is a bit of a burden sometimes, on the flip side, because I don't always know that I'm doing it.
One time when I was in high school, I met a friend who'd moved over from London - she and I became pretty close, but one day she mentioned that she didn't understand why I continued to imitate the way she spoke since it either made her angry or made her homesick. I had had no clue I was doing it at all. Similarly, the same will happen with the American accent because people will ask me where it comes from, however innocently, or accuse me of trying to be cool or 'americanised'. It's pretty embarrassing and sometimes hurts my feelings, which is why I'll always brush it off with the 'too much tv' line like it's no big deal that I was 'doing that thing again' and somebody caught me out.
There are good sides and bad sides to being the pseudo-linguistic chameleon that I am, not the least of which is making me blend in abroad all that much easier.
Unless, of course, I'm in India or Egypt. But that's a whole other story for another time.