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Last week, expat Laura of Gringation Cancun wrote an article titled, The Ugly Americans, airing out her annoyances with encountering America-bashing in her adopted residence of Mexico. I encounter the “Ugly American” stereotype too when I travel.
In the travel world, stereotypes exist. I get it.
The Spanish and French are an easy-going crew, the Japanese are shy but snap-happy photographers and Germans, are supposedly the worst complainers of the tourist bunch. Sometimes these stereotypes can be playful jest or bitchy complaints among globe-trotters. Sometimes, it’s just plain offensive as a slap in the face.
Ironically, the insensitive America-bashing didn’t come from my encounters with Laotians. Shockingly, it came from the criticisms of many fellow travelers, who were airing their “observations” about the overly cautious American travel style, our pushy domineering government, our heinous acts of war crime upon Laos and apparently,…everyone else.
So what if Americans are overly cautious travelers?
What if we practice health safety by religiously going to the travel doctor and getting the “recommended” travel shots before leaving to travel?
Does taking precaution as to where to lay our head to avoid bed bugs, mean we “miss out on the joys and freedom of experiencing travel”?
And remind me again, what country has not been a criminal to some variable colonization for the sake of greed or self-interest?
I won’t apologize for being American.
I’m not fiercely patriotic, but our nation boasts democracy and free speech and choice, so that those governed under it have a right to the American Dream. A nation historically composed of immigrants, many labored towards that vision and it’s become the proud motto of our lifestyle.
Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.
Still, the ‘Ugly American’ concept is often scapegoat rival countries love most: loud, money-hungry, workaholics, conservative and uptight, health-concerned, self-interested, uncultured, brash, unintelligent, self-righteous,…
Is America, a country that travelers love to hate?
What I found in the barbed-fenced minds of my fellow travel community was disappointing. British, Canadian, European or American… I thought on the road, we were all just “international”. But perhaps as competing western nations, someone must be underdog.
Then I crossed paths with Wardell, a freelance designer from Los Angeles. He was your non-stereotypical American traveler; he’d spent big chunks of his life taking nomadic treks abroad, volunteering for archeological digs and random ventures of the sort. He shared enlightened me to his simple theory.
“You always hate, what you secretly love most and the world hates that they’re actually in love with us “, he put frankly.
If America is so ugly, can you remind me …
• Why is the U.S. dollar is the most accepted currency worldwide (not the Euro, Yen or British pound)?
• Why is the leading global language English, with the targeted pronunciation being American ?
(The first two are pretty mind-boggling– Americans aren’t considered big “international travelers”!)
• Why is we are the “Big Brother” (the”policeman” country aiding others), when we’re the youngest nation of the superpower family?
• Why is it so many people from other countries want to move to live in America (legally or illegally)?
(and did you know– as an ambitious self-interested country, America ranked 6th on the 2010 World Giving Index? 60% of Americans donated to charity last year, despite the fact we were in an economic recession)!
How do you feel about travel stereotypes and what are some funny ones you’ve heard?
Photo credit: whoinvented.org