I’m not perfect – I’ve never claimed to be. I am proud to be an American – I would never deny to be. Nevertheless, I am getting tired of the apparent lack of respect, and I would say pride, many of my fellow, typically youthful, Americans seem to have when traveling abroad. Without fail, on every single trip I have taken within Europe it seems a regular occurrence to run into at least a few groups of young-adult Americans acting foolish. It saddens me to think that these individuals seem to take their behavior so lightly, and that they feel being in another country somehow obligates them to give everyone around them a show on just how ill mannered Americans “really” are. So, here’s to you, my dear Ugly American friends:
When you’re walking around an Iberian capital city on St. Patrick’s Day toting a 3 foot tall, green top-hat and Guinness T-Shirt pretending to know the words of an Irish drinking song – I’ve seen you. When you’re with a small group of friends taking a tour of a historic European landmark, speaking loudly about how much of your parent’s money you’ve spent on alcohol during your trip – I’ve heard you. When you begin speaking loudly to your friends about how cultured you are, and in the same breath begin to explain how the last city you visited “was like, a completely different city” from the one you are in now – I’ve tweaked my brow trying to understand your point. When you talk about how your American driver’s license makes you God’s gift to the world of personal travel and go on to explain how badly everyone else drives because you “like to speed” – I shake my head in wonder. When you don’t even make an inkling of an effort to learn basic phrases like “hola” or “cuanto cuesta?” and resort to speaking louder and slower English in an attempt to communicate with the locals – I sigh. When you just never seem to learn and continue to perform the aforementioned acts repeatedly in every single city I’ve visited – I’m baffled, perplexed, embarrassed and resort to writing posts dedicated to you.
My recommendation is simple: Have some pride when you travel abroad. Recognize the opportunity you have to leave a positive impression of Americans to these people “you’re never going to see again.” And lastly, remember, you can still have fun and not act a fool. So please, next time you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit a new country, behave yourself. Because you never know who is watching, or listening, or cringing as a result of your actions. Thank you.
Your Friend Abroad, Matt