I am five months “vetted” into the backpackers’ community now and I’ve learned a few things- some life changing and some just plain hysterical. A concept I’ve come to fully grasp as of late is the view other countries have of us “Americana.”
There are a few lines you’re going to hear over and over and over again as an American traveler in today’s world.The image the world has made up of Americans is full of cliches and over generalizations- some based on merit and others…not so much.
I’ve been hit with it all.
At first you’ll respond earnest and honestly, then you’ll just start to laugh like I do- and maybe come up with a few smart ass lines (like the ones below).
So here is my “Public Service Announcement” to all of you non-American travelers out there:
Yes! We DO know you have gap year in your country. Color me jealous.
Oh and free health insurance too…Awesome!
And NO, we don’t actually think Trump will win the presidency.
Yes, we realize we speak in louder volumes than you. But to be fair, have you heard the Brits and Aussies? I mean come on!
And no, you’re right. We don’t have free education. (What’s funny is those same people say they want to come travel in America to go to school. Say what?!)
Yes I have an iPhone. No I didn’t pay as much as you for it. #SorryNotSorry
No, I don’t know why we use inches, feet and miles instead of meters and kilometers. I don’t make the rules!
Even more fun lies within the mundane daily conversations. Everywhere you go people ask where you’re from. Standard. Then you respond “America,” and they say with an excited hand gesture “Oh!! OBAMA!!” Or, “What do you think about those gun laws?”
To all the travelers (not from the USA) I’ve met and conversed with: thank you for teaching me how the world sees us and all the cliches that come with it.
And to my American traveler friends or soon to be travelers: get ready to debate all the topics your mother told you never to discuss over dinner.
Some of my favorite moments have been when I’ve surprised people from other countries- showing them I’m not what they think I am. Proving a generalization or stereotype wrong comes with endless satisfaction.
My motto: Be different. Be unexpected. And always continue to listen and learn.
Ps. Sorry I don’t have a picture of myself waving an American flag, because we don’t actually carry those things around.