Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't You DARE ...

... Claim to be Canadian when backpacking abroad! Ever!

What a chickenshit move to deny one's own citizenship. Move up there if you like it so much. They're quite good at dealing with "take care of me" liberals like you. The US economy can just replace you with three Mexicans and a Pakistani and STILL have money left over.

OK, maybe thats a little harsh.

My main objection to the practice is this: when Americans travel abroad, we become the face of the nation to hundred of people wherever we go. The US has an image problem right now and you, the broke college kid travelling Europe on 5 (ok 100) Euros a day, are one of our best remedies. Go out there and do what you do best: be yourself. Go laugh and have fun. Walk with self-confidence. Try the language ... and the food ... and then make a point to reach out and talk to locals about both things wherever you go. Swap email addresses with someone on the train ... and someone else in a bar. Show pictures of your girlfriend and roommates. Talk about basketball. You (and, more importantly, THEY) will be amazed at how much common ground there is in the foundations of the human experience.

Ahem, well one change: be more humble. Give thanks and compliments liberally. Give opinions conservatively. Reserve judgement. Agree that the US has issues and follow up that we're constantly working on them.

It seems that most people abroad have three simultaneous yet conflicting images in their head when they think of Americans:

  • Gee-Dubya: The warmongering cowboy cariacature propigated in the irri-tainment media
  • Brangelina: The idealistic image of the young and attractive, carefree, optimistic, and friendly, wealthy (and yes, perhaps materialistic and naive) "normal Americans" as propigated by Hollywood.
  • Rosie O'Donnell: Fat, self-centered, and obnoxious
So when they see an actual living American in their midst, they test these stereotypes against your actions. By being yourself - adventurous, interesting, fun, educated - you open the door to a fourth option ... one locals can't help but like.

No comments: