Quick Thoughts on Americans Abroad

By Nick Fawell

Maybe it’s just paranoia but I feel like people here in London are treating me different because I’m American. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s negative treatment. Sometimes I feel the Brits are extra helpful with giving me directions or helping out in other ways because they can sense where I come from.

It’s no shock that Americans stick out the way they do either.

The biggest thing is the shoes.

They say you can always tell Americans because of the Nike and Adidas sneakers they don around the city. It’s true. And I’m no exception.

A bunch of us Americans were out at a pub in central London one night and the bartender asked me, “There’s a lot Americans here tonight, eh?”

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“Do we stick out that much?” I asked, hoping the answer would be “Nah, not really.”

“Like a sore thumb,” he said, a coy smirk having crept onto his face.

There’s nothing wrong with being identified as a foreigner, though – even if you’re American. The problem is when people in other countries identify you as an American because of disrespectful behavior. And that is certainly the case for a lot of countries – including England.

Americans can be too loud. You see it on the public transportation, in restaurants, museums and many other places.

It’s really unfortunate and I want to just say to the Brits, “Hey, Americans really aren’t loud and obnoxious.” Of course right as I’m thinking that I see an American woman screaming at the guards to the National Gallery because they won’t let her bring her dog inside the building to appreciate the Monet landscapes. So much for assimilation…

Before I arrived in London in September, I received numerous e-mails warning me to not dress like an American and to try to assimilate into the culture as much as possible. It sounded like a good idea at first, but now I’m not so sure. How are we going to get rid of this reputation that Americans have if we’re trying to hide the fact that we’re American?

There’s nothing wrong with letting people know you’re American. Just make sure once they know it, they don’t see any obnoxious behavior. Kill them with kindness instead … with your Nike sneakers on.