(Note: this is meant to be a joke. If you don't have a sense of humour about silly things tourists do abroad, then this post isn't for you).
The other day, I went to The Laundromat Cafe with a Danish and French friend. The cafe is known for having American pancakes, which are something of a novelty in Europe. When we sat down at the table, the Dane pointed at the syrup and ketchup bottles and said, "Do you feel at home? Look at all these American things." I then launched into an explanation about how I tried not to be a "loud, obnoxious American" and that I like to think of myself as a Briticized American, having lived in London for ten months.
Two people sitting at the next table turned to me and said (with American accents), "And then you also need to be careful about how loud you talk about 'loud, obnoxious' Americans because you never know when two Americans are sitting at the table next to you."
I went on to explain that not all Americans were loud and obnoxious and that they clearly weren't "obnoxious Americans" or else I would have heard them the second I walked in the door. The three of us Americans continued to converse off and on until they left the cafe. My Danish and French friends were amused and the one pointed out that it was obvious that the three of us Americans were Americans because we were, "very friendly and continued to talk to the people sitting at the table beside us and that no Dane or Parisian would do that." Okay, okay, yes I will always be an American, but I try not be an "obnoxious American."
In case you, on the other hand, would like to stand out as an obnoxious American, here are some tips for you.
1) Be Loud
Anywhere and everywhere. If you can't find the forks at a restuarant, don't calmly look or politely ask. Be like my mom and just go up to the counter and shout, "forks anywhere!?"
2) Be Geographically Illiterate
The following statements were said by a Canadian, but I've heard Americans say similar things. "So you're from Czechoslovakia?" "No, Czech Republic." "Oh, well my wife and I really want to go to Budapest! That's your capital right?" "No, our capital is Prague." "Prague. Hmm. Never heard of it."
3) Ask Stupid Questions
The following statements I've overheard asked by Americans abroad: (At the Colosseum in Rome) "This is where the first Olympics were held, right?" and "What is the Italian word for 'pizza?'" and, my personal favourite, "Do they speak English in England?"
4) Wear Clothing Representing Your Favourite Sports Team or College
Thanks for informing us where you're from.
5) Take a Million Photos of Everything
Okay, I'm guilty of this one.
6) Don't Learn Any Words in the Local Language
Just go around to people without any greeting in the local language and just shout, "forks anywhere!? Do you speak English!?"
7) Skip the Local Cuisine and Just Eat at McDonalds*
Good luck with that in Iceland. There are however, Taco Bell-KFC combo drive-thru's and Subways everywhere.
*At least the McDonalds I slept in in Prague had surprisingly posh tea and Parisian McDonalds have macarons.
8) Struggle With Walking
Okay, I struggle with walking. Okay, I really struggle with walking. But at least I walk, rather than take the bus or tube merely one stop!
9) Ask for Everything in Dollars
Don't download a handy conversion app or try to learn the local currency. Just beg people to tell you how much it is in dollars.
10) Struggle to Distinguish Accents
There is a great difference between all the accents of the world. If you'd like to offend as many people as people ask North Irish people if they're Irish, Australians if they're Scottish, etc.
Do you like my self-deprecating humour? See how Briticized I am!? What other traits did I miss that could be added to the list?
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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