Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How do we look to them?

If I asked you, "What do people from other countries notice most about us when they visit the U.S?" What would you guess? My own guesses would be that we're rude, loud, rich, and stupid. That we're trying to control the world. That we're so stupid we believe what the (government, news media, people who are really in control, choose one) tell us.

As you probably know, I'm an inveterate traveler and I've had a lot of opportunity to hear what others think of us. You might be surprised. I'm especially amused by comments I've heard from foreigners who've actually visited and aren't just repeating what their own media (or ours) have told them.

Here are some real-life examples.

From an Australian I met in South Africa: "Your restaurants serve too bloody much food! They bring you a plate that a normal person couldn't eat in a week."

From a Chinese girl: " I love your blue sky."

From a Turkish man: "I hate to drive in America. It's boring! Why do you obey the traffic laws? We don't."

From a young German man: "Americans are fatter." This, after puzzling for some time over the question, How are Americans different from Germans?

From a teacher leading a group of Hawaiian school kids from Hampton, Virginia to Washington, D.C.(Okay, I know Hawaii is in the U.S. but the Eastern seaboard is a looong way from Hawaii.)

"Nevermind the history. They're only interested in two things. Your squirrels and your lightning-bugs."

I love that! It puts us in our place. We're neither the best, or the worst, or the richest, or the ugliest. We, like they, run the gamut. And you'd be surprised to hear what they notice when they visit.

I'd love to know what you've heard from foreign visitors to our shores. It might make an interesting book.