Ways to Spot Americans Abroad

Let’s face it. Americans have quite the reputation abroad. It’s not our fault really… as one of the leaders of the Western world, our culture has seeped into our peers’ lives since birth. That being said, there are little ways you can tell Americans apart from other tourists (and Canadians!) by picking up on the following notes. Are these good or bad notes? Y’all decide.

How to Spot an American:

1. If you hear someone say ohmigosh, that’s so CUTE, or awesome… in a really high pitched squeal too. Same goes for OHMIGOSH, that’s SO funny! without actually laughing at all… they’re American.

2. Starbucks in hand. In whatever country you go, Starbucks will be the unofficial American embassy. Also, if you’re walking in the street, and see a group of girls wide-eye a Starbucks as they make a dash for said Starbucks… they’re American.

3. Their volume: Americans have NO CHILL when it comes to how loudly they’re speaking. And the loudest are usually talking about the most mudane things, like the girl who proudly exclaimed, “I ONLY SPENT €50 DURING THE PUB CRAWL LAST NIGHT. THAT’S GOOD, RIGHT!?”

4. Their volume: We Americans take up a little bit more space than the average European. I’m not being mean, it’s simply a fact that we’re a little heftier. I mean, who can deny Chick-Fil-A AND Whataburger?

5. Ask lots of questions. This includes always asking how old a building is, and then proceeding to chuckle when it’s older than 1776. Which we love to note “is older than America!”

6. Baseball caps. NOOOOOOO, STOPPPPPP. And North Face / Columbia jackets. And white socks. Europeans wear black socks. I don’t know why.

7. Riding boots. American girls usually prefer riding boots. You wouldn’t think this makes us stand out, but it does. You’ll get asked multiple times, “Where ya horse at?” Politely chuckle each time; they think they’re being clever. Europeans tend to go for the ankle boot, and French girls exclusively wear black ones year-round.

8. Happy and smiling. We’re controversially friendlier than other nationalities. I say controversially because our genuine kindness is sometimes interpreted as facetious or an invasion of their privacy.

9. Needy for good customer service. In America, the customer is always right. You can get a new dish if our other one wasn’t prepared right, substitutions, and free ketchup packets. This isn’t the case in other parts of the world, and if someone is making a fuss about the lack of customer service… there’s a good chance they’re American.

10. Referring to Europe as an entity, like one would refer to America when it comes to generalizations. OMG I’m just SOOO European since I’ve studied abroad. I walk to Target now, and have an espresso every morning. Um… no. Life in Scotland is very different than life in Greece. It’s a fact that the cultures within Europe can be very different, so why cluster them up as one entity? note: I sometimes still make this faux pas

11. Being smug about European ancestry. OHMIGOD. You’re Polish!? My grandma was Polish! … *blank stares* “You are not Polish. You are American.” -Real Polish girl with strong Polish accent. (This really happened to Alex when we were in Scotland this past summer…. She was so sad after the shade-filled encounter)

12. Caring too much about the royal family in England. I fangirled so hard when Princess Charlotte was born. A group of Brits checked into the hostel the day after, and I asked them how they felt about the new addition to the royal family… they responded, “FEK THAT FAMILY.” #OhOkay

13. Talking about distance in time. I’m from Houston, but my *actual* suburb is like 15 mins outside of proper Houston. Or, You should totally try going to Venice when you get to Milan- it’s only three hours away!

14. Oversharing. ALL THE TIME. Minute one: name, where we’re from. Minute three: family history of diseases, tears may happen… by minute five you’re being welcomed to our home if you’re ever in the “greater Chicago area.”

15. Confidence. We give firm handshakes and are taught it’s polite to maintain good eye-contact. What do they expect!?




4 thoughts on “Ways to Spot Americans Abroad

    1. Thanks, girl!
      We definitely overshare- especially those of us coming from the south! I had some reverse culture shock when I came home this summer and hears millions of details from people I had just met. I wasn’t used to it anymore!!

  1. I have learned to give a firm handshake and try to make an appropriate amount of eye contact. On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I shook the hand of our handsome pilot on our private plane and he had the most gentle warm hand shake, I felt that mine was too strong. Who can win? I think I’ll just be myself and let others ponder my uniqueness.

  2. This is really funny, thanks for sharing! Yeah sometimes we make fun of American tourists for the things you mentioned, but honestly most of the time we actually quite enjoy bumping into American tourists in Europe because they are always so bubbly and easy-going. There’s never a dull-moment with them!

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