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An American Footprint

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

The perception of arrogance we get from being "those Americans"


Funny Map
America

I write this with full knowledge and anticipation of blowback from my fellow Americans. I apologize if you are offended. Imagine how the rest of the world sees us. Then read.


“The rest of the world may think Americans eat a lot of burgers, have huge shopping malls and are ruled by an arrogant government. And yet the "Ugly American," it would seem, isn't all bad. Americans are also seen from afar as generous tippers, friendly, uncomplicated, rich and the standard bearers of freedom, equality, creativity and technological power..” CNN.com

AN AMERICAN FOOTPRINT A Perception Of Arrogance.


Elections bullshit
America

America the beautiful, let freedom ring, praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.

The pride one feels at the sight of the Arlington National Cemetery, The Lincoln Memorial or the National September 11 Memorial is something you can't get anywhere else. It’s that tear welling up at the National Anthem feeling. Pride. Love of country. We are a strong, and tenacious people with a record for leading the fights and conquering our hurdles.

Is this how the world sees us too? Traveling has led me to the conclusion that Americans like me are a type. Not, however, the type we think we are. Go to Italy, (my favorite travel playground) and they think we are mostly spoiled, self-centered, and destructive. Go to France, and they feel like we are all cowboys with a new gun. Go to Russia, and they feel we are party animals with too much indulgence. No matter where I ask, almost all of the world thinks we are arrogant.

Not everyone feels the same about us. They all have different perceptions. I decided a long time ago that I would start asking the locals as I travel and the answers were surprising.

A mix of 50% arrogant and entitled and 50% "we love America" and all agreed we are the best tippers.

But the destruction was the one thing almost all of them agreed on. In the beginning, I couldn't understand why. Until I googled it. The perception was correct.


Broken History
Lisbon

It was a tourist who broke an early seventeenth-century statue of Saint Michael in Lisbon at Lisbon’s National Museum of Ancient Art in 2016 by trying to get a selfie. The museum's curator said that it was broken beyond repair. This is the main reason you are not allowed to bring backpacks or large purses into museums today.

In May 2016, just after midnight at Lisbon’s Rossio train station, a 24-year-old tourist climbed up onto the steps where a 126-year-old statue was in an enclave, knocking it down and shattering it. The locals loved this statue and even today, if you think you are going to take a picture (or worse, a selfie) in front of the still-empty enclave the locals will probably knock you off your enclave!


Milan statue broken
Italy

In March 2014, an American international student visiting the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, climbed onto the statue The Drunken Satyr, breaking its leg off. Looking at the destruction, arrogance is the word I would use to describe the ignorance in such an act.

Photo by Nicola Vaglia.


British History ruined
England

At the Prittlewell Priory Museum in Southend, Essex, a couple placed their child in an 800-year-old sarcophagus to get a picture. the sarcophagus broke through and was irreparably damaged. (parenting at its finest).

photo courtesy of BBC.com


I can tell you personally, from my own eyes, that I have seen many Americans being complete blockheads while traveling in other countries. I always cringe when I hear one say “No habla englishie?” or “Don't you have anything normal to eat”? My husband and I have spoken with many locals of many countries and they all are very surprised to find out that we are not Canadians. (Canadians seem to have much better travel manners).


I guess my point is this. Try to imagine that the same person or statue or fountain is in your front yard. Some tourist from (example) Africa, comes into your yard. They are climbing up onto your statue that you know is a thousand years old! To take a selfie!? How bat-shit crazy would that make you?

My advice is to let go of the arrogance, ego, and pride, and immerse yourself into the local life. My favorite time during traveling is when I realize nobody knows I am not from here. Give yourself a few hours a week before your trip and YouTube a bunch of language lessons for travel. you will be shocked at the way a scowling cashier's face changes to a smile when you tell her "thank you" in her own language. If you love to travel as much as I do, respect the country you are in.

UPDATE;

As I wandered through Europe last summer, I asked well over 100 people what they think of Americans. I did get a few snubs and "walk-offs", but for the most part, it depended on where I was. The bigger metropolitan areas still gave me the impression that we were the spoiled and entitled gun-toting crazies they hear about on the mainstream media (which is a whole different article to come!) But, when we were in little towns and villages we always got a resounding "Americans!" and a smile! They loved us and treated us with the utmost respect and curiosity.

Not everyone will agree with my opinions on this matter. But I have been traveling full-time for over 2 years now, and I am still learning new things every day.


"BEYOND EXPLORATION, TRAVELING ENHANCES OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD, OTHER CULTURES, AND WAYS OF LIFE, AND HELPS US BECOME BETTER GLOBAL CITIZENS."

Veronica Stoddart




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