The American Abroad - How to polish up the image?

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by PADDY, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. matei

    matei Practically Family

    Messages:
    995
    Location:
    England
    This is a very interesting thread indeed.

    I've been in many different countries, and as another poster pointed out, there are rude people everywhere. Everyone is basically the same.

    In my experience, most people from the US generally try to make a good impression. I've only run into a handful of rude tourists from the US. They certainly made up for the rest though! ;) To be honest, I'd say that I've encountered more ill-behaved tourists from the UK than the US.

    Most of the time I'll hear people complaining that "this is different back home" or "that is cheaper back home" - or the general price of things... but hey - we all do that.

    I think that some of the issues with Americans getting a bad rap abroad is that some of them are just so ill informed about the world outside their borders. This isn't isolated to the US however. I've met people from the USSR and even the UK who barely knew who their neighbouring countries were. I think it is a "big country" syndrome.

    Regarding much maligned France... Paris is probably my fave city in the world. Every time we've been there, people have been very nice. We've had complete strangers come up to us and offer to help with directions. Even Parisian waiters, who have a certain reputation, have been fine.
     
  2. Jack Scorpion

    Jack Scorpion One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,097
    Location:
    Hollywoodland
    Well, in Russia, whenever I saw an American in public (easy to tell -- we love hand gestures and Russians don't), I felt very embarassed for my people. Couldn't they gesticulate and express themselves just a little bit less in a foreign public! I hated it ... and all the while, I did the same; it's our nature. I didn't see any American tourists particularly rude though.

    Russian folk are pretty rude in public (but so darn sweet in private!), so I got the third degree pretty much everywhere I went, even though I did speak decent Russian. But that's a whole different story. You don't go to Moscow to smile on the street.
     
  3. matei

    matei Practically Family

    Messages:
    995
    Location:
    England
    Another problem people abroad encounter is that they judge the host culture by their standards.

    What might seem the height of rudeness to you may be perfectly acceptable in the country you are visiting.

    As long as you remember where you are and keep an open mind, you won't be disappointed. The same applies to dealing with people.
     
  4. BellyTank

    BellyTank I'll Lock Up


    Ooops! Did you say that out loud..?

    I can't really believe that any American could be serious in saying, or even believing that.

    Especially given the events of the last few years.

    I believe that the so-called "Ugly..." thing is more to do with the actual and apparent actions of Americans abroad and their treatment of the "rest of The World" as some kind of theme-park. That and a general ignorance of the rest of the World and its goings-on and of course the belief that America and Americans is/are somehow superior- rather than just different.

    However- tourists who draw attention to themselves by speaking very loudly and uttering nonsense are always ugly, no matter where they're from.

    This is purely an observation from what I have seen and heard.

    I don't personally hold to the "Ugly ..." concept- there are ignorant and stupid tourists everywhere- the "good" tourists blend in- the bad ones wear big, white running shoes, stonewashed jeans sitting too high and ugly print polo shirts. They are also surprised when they step off the cruise ship on Sunday and see that everything in the Town is closed.

    I have many American friends, both here and in America.

    I like Americans but I wouldn't want to be one...

    (The phrase comes from a 1958 novel, which ironically contrasted the work of one decent man with cascading American blunders in Southeast Asia.)
     
  5. Miss Crisplock

    Miss Crisplock A-List Customer

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Ah. What exactly isthe correct jeans height for international travel?

    Since I have yet to find high waisted jeans, and there are a plethora of low waisted jeans, is wearing clothing at waist level what you find objectionable in tourists?
     
  6. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,353
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    Equal Opportunity Ugliness

    I have to smile at two things.

    1. Loud, boorish behavior is what Americans objected to when the third wave of European immigrants came here in the early 20th century.

    2. Friends who have been to Europe have commented on how Europeans criticized America and how we do things (e.g., comments from some French people on how we work too many hours).
     
  7. Been there seen that. I'll enjoy the French countryside. You can have Paris. Now Switzerland---that is a nice place to see. The people are wonderful and the sights are excellent as well. If there just wasn't so much snow. :p

    Regards,

    J
     
  8. BellyTank

    BellyTank I'll Lock Up

    No.

    I was referring to Men with hiked-up jeans-

    There is not a 'correct' height as far as I know- but I know what looks ugly.

    B
    T
     
  9. You're kidding me. You mean you've never seen "mom" jeans? Saturday Night Live did a wonderful parody of them. High-waisted, roomy in the hips, and tapering down to narrow ankles.

    .
     
  10. Miss Crisplock

    Miss Crisplock A-List Customer

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Nope. I don't hang out with too many soccer Moms.

    Since I am high waisted, should I now eshew all international travel?
     
  11. Only if you hide packets of moisturizer in the waistband ... lol

    .
     
  12. The_Edge

    The_Edge One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    225
    Location:
    WA USA
    Yes I did and it was not a mistake.

    Believe it. This American is absolutely serious.
     
  13. Miss Crisplock

    Miss Crisplock A-List Customer

    Messages:
    448
    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Ah, well then I am in luck! Generous always am with samples of skin care products I shall have no trouble traveling Europe as shall be stocked with products, and picking more up along the way. Who knew it was this simple?

    Moisturizer, Mssr?
     
  14. Daisy Buchanan

    Daisy Buchanan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,332
    Location:
    BOSTON! LETS GO PATRIOTS!!!
    I hear from my mom that Switzerland is one of the best places to visit. She lived there during her summers when she was a teen, she even attended finishing school there! Oh,, the stories I've heard about the skiing and chocolate and the beauty of both th people and the country. I can't wait to go there. But, I've got this big trip to Italia planned, leaving in four weeks, yahoo. So when I get back from that I'll start making arrangements for another trip, possibly to Switzerland. MMMM, lot's of chocolates.
     
  15. Daisy Buchanan

    Daisy Buchanan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,332
    Location:
    BOSTON! LETS GO PATRIOTS!!!
    LL Bean still makes ladies jeans like this
    www.llbean.com
    Sadly, as great a store as they are, there woman's clothes can be kind of frumpy.
     
  16. Daisy Buchanan

    Daisy Buchanan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,332
    Location:
    BOSTON! LETS GO PATRIOTS!!!
    Now I'm getting confused, and think you might be able to help me. For my trip to Italy, I was planning on bringing light weight tweed trouser, a few of them, a couple of pretty fall like dresses with long sleeves and tights and tweed skirts past the knee with tight sweaters or turtlenecks. I was planning on finding a good pair of walking shoes to wear with these outfits, so I would be comfortable all day. Since I'm really not bringing a lot, I have room for a few more things. Should I bring a pair of designer jeans to wear with a blouse or tight sweater and boots? I just don't want to stick out like a sore thumb. I want to blend in and go about my buisiness.. Any wardrobe suggesstions for a gal going to Italy in the begining of November. I know comfort is most important, and i'm gonna have to spend some cash on walking shoes and boots that look as cool as they can be. I'm not planning on doing th vintage dress while I'm there. That's just going to be too much energy, and wer're not going to have the time to do my hair in pincurls and fingerwaves. I'm really just trying to put together a few outfits that I can mix and match, and maybe I should bring a pair of my fancy jeans, if they still fit!
    ANY HELP is greatly appreciated:)
     
  17. Curt Chiarelli

    Curt Chiarelli One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    175
    Location:
    California

    I find many of my fellow countrymen obnoxious here on their own home turf, so why should I find it surprising if they conduct themselves like braying asses elsewhere in the world?

    Some of you may well consider me a quisling for making this statement, trotting out the tired, old "America, love it or leave it" jingoism, but consider my personal experiences and observations and the fact that a society is best served by her critics than those who are complacent with her flaws:

    - How many times have I been to an expensive restaurant and seen a good proportion of the patrons unshaven - and, in some cases, unwashed - dressed in baggy T-shirts, cargo shorts and flip-flops, their cell phones sounding and their insufferable brats howling and screaming and running amuck, disturbing the other guests during their meals?

    - How many times have I seen adults belch and fart proudly in public areas? (And we're not talking about an accident with an embarrassed attempt at concealment - they do it boldly at full gale-force quickly followed by a spasm of laughter because they think it the epitome of wit.)

    - How many times have I witnessed people damaging private property as a source of amusement? A recent incident is very telling: some pre-teen kids were winging stones at my Mercedes Benz, using it for target practice. Their mother was out in front of her home watching while this was going on, idly chatting away on her cell phone as if her kids were doing nothing wrong.

    - How many times have I witnessed children demonstrating extreme disrespect towards parents, teachers or police officers without any disciplinanry action taken? One teenage girl I witnessed at a shopping mall repeatedly and off-handedly referred to her mother (who was present) as a "stupid c**t". The mother did nothing to discipline this petulent brat, preferring to just ignore the insult than assert herself and make a public fuss.

    - While watching the movie, "The Libertine" at the local cineplex, two people were openly rutting like beasts in clear view of the other audience members without any attempt to muffle their cries or moans. Most of the other audience members chose to ignore this. I chose not to and began walking out to the lobby to get a refund. The guy even had the nerve to call out after me as I got up to leave, "Hey dude, newsflash: it's a free country!" My response? "NOT WHEN I'M PAYING FOR THE PRICE OF THE TICKET, PAL!" When I explained to the assistant manager why I wanted a refund she chirped, "Cool. Well, come again soon to the Rohnert Park Pacific 16 Theatre!"

    I could go on for pages with other horrifying examples of just how low the standards of our society have sunk in the past 35 years. It should be duly noted that these incidents took place in middle-class neighbourhoods.

    And here's the damnable part of it all: our fellow citizens accept or tolerate this loutish, disrespectful conduct because a confrontation with these idiots with an outrageous sense of entitlement would be a perceived violation of their civil rights :)rage: yeah, right!). However, our national arrogance dictates that other peoples in other nations will be just as willing to suffer this particular brand of jackassery. And that, my friends, is where we're dead wrong.
     
  18. matei

    matei Practically Family

    Messages:
    995
    Location:
    England
    Ah well... people getting it on in the cinema, passing wind in public and generally acting like cavemen is something I've encountered in every country I've ever lived in or visited. You can't avoid it. I think there is a general lack of values and morals plaguing Western society.

    I've seen it in the US and I've encountered it in Europe. I think that more people need to be politically "incorrect" and let these people know that boorish, uncivilised behaviour is not welcome. If they don't like it - go back where they came from. Don't be afraid to speak up people!

    I recently had an otherwise pleasant train journey almost ruined by some people visiting from Poland, who decided to share their Polish rap with the rest of the wagon via the tinny speaker in their mobile. This was accompanied by loads of swearing, yelling and jumping around. After about 5 minutes, I couldn't take it any more. I asked them to stop, whereas they pretended not to speak English and started insulting me in Polish. Unfortunately for them, Polish is very close to Russian, and I speak Russian. I understood every word. I asked a second time - not so politely - in Russian. I got my point across, and they stopped. I got lots of dirty looks, but at least my wife and I no longer subjected to the music of .50 Centsky and Eminemski.

    If more people would speak up, perhaps the "ugly" tourists - regardless of where they might be from - would think twice about acting like fools.
     
  19. Elaina

    Elaina One Too Many

    Eh then you get things like the lovely family I had today.

    Son and I went to the store so he could spend his allowance he saved up to buy this one item. We get to the store and went to park. I own an older, and ugly, car. This guy in a beamer sees me pulling in, and whips through the spot behind it and takes the ones I'm almost in, and he and his wife smirk at me.

    So, we park in the spot he vacated. Now, this isn't a close spot, kind of middish. Family exits car, talkng about how much money they have and how great it is to take parking spots like that. It's a rush.

    Son and I gather up to go inside, and hear all this. My windows are down (I'm a smoker, and it's a nice night) so it's crystal clear.

    My son asks if this is a good reason to act that way. I tell him no. He then asks if money makes you act differently. I reply no and tell him that some people are so unhappy that they have to try to ruin other people's day. He watches them for a moment, and asks me if money makes it okay to not have manners. I tell him no again. He shakes his head and says "well they suck." So he opens the door, and the woman rushes to pass before he can get out and sighs loudly and tells him to move. I get out and bristle (because this is my baby, and you don't mess with my baby) and before I can say a word my son pops out, closes the door and tells her "I'm sorry you're in such a hurry that you have to be all grumpy and mean". She turns red and says "you have a rude <expletive deleted> brat." I replied "That's okay, you have debt to your eyeballs, a husband that has to prove his masculinity by being a jerk and the manners of a goat. I think I got the better end of the deal."

    On the way in, my son asks me what's wrong with people. What do you tell them? "People suck" is about all I can say.

    Elaina
     
  20. Curt Chiarelli

    Curt Chiarelli One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    175
    Location:
    California

    While it's true that boorishness is hardly a purely American trait I do think that we've helped to disseminate and glamourize it throughout the world. Take the rap music you and your wife were being tormented by. Although the lyrics were in Polish, the origins of the "music" were certainly American.

    Paris, London and New York have long ceased to be the primary cultural movers, shakers and trendsetters in the world. Almost everyone now seems to take their cues from Los Angeles, via the medium of movies, television, music videos and, now, video games.
     

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