When you go somewhere you may think it’s you who’s supposed to get the cultural experience, but what happens is the locals (rightfully) treat it a two way street. This is why I’ve posted earlier that it’s sometimes advantageous to speak English to a local because they want to practice.
In Asia, more than Europe, I’ve had people tell me, not in so many words, “Be American Goddamnit!” Drink Coke. Go eat at McDonald’s. Be a giant. They have their own stereotypes and perceptions and they want to see me fulfill them, or at least address them. Or they think what I want more than anything is all the stereotypical American stuff.
On the other hand, as an American overseas, you’re trying to assimilate the local culture and in many ways leave behind those traditionally American mores. But by doing this you’re depriving the locals of very Americanness they want to see (maybe for sheer amusement!).
2 comments on “Be American Goddamnit!”
in the czech republic, when we tried to use our Czech, they could immediately hear we were English speakers and would start trying all their English on us. We gave whole “lessons” in Taxi rides to the drivers.
In Thailand, I had ladies ogling and grabbing at my chest (it is larger than the average Thai girl’s chest). They would also openly discuss the color of my skin. One of my friends had a whole gaggle of Thai ladies explode into a full-fledged heckling conversation about her arm hair. None too shy, the Thai.
i’m from the UK and went on a gap year of the US, and the amount on American people I met who had no idea what a gap year was, or if they did, considered it ridiculous is unbeliveable, so man, I take my hat off to you. My gap year was the best thing I ever did, I hope it was for you too. Rock on!