Where’s your American? By: Chris

To my surprise, this happened twice in Paris. Someone came up to us, then in full speed French, asked me for directions. So this brings me to my point. When we travel, we are always so afraid to look like tourists. As if they don’t belong or like everyone is not a tourist at some point. So what made me so camouflaged? I’d like to thank my tailor, for shirts that actually fit. Unlike in America, people in other parts of the world like to wear garments which aren’t part tent. Thank you Louis for the jacket, which seems to be the common style in Paris or really thanks to whoever left it at your house. Finally, thank you Marie Therese, because of you I knew they were asking for directions and can somewhat navigate France with confidence. In truth, I’m most commonly taken for an Australian, both in Thailand and again this morning in Nice, France. We just tell them we are southern, so that’s why we are nice. Btw: it’s always the Aussies who help us carry the stroller up the stairs in Bangkok.

But how good is all this blending. There is a line which is considerate and rude but I feel we only need to stay on the right side of that, not necessarily try and fully become a part of the culture. After all, will you ever? As I’m constantly called “foreigner” in Thailand, I’d say no. Although maybe my skin tone betrays me there. There’s nothing wrong with a little national pride. I’ve been to six countries now and can say each has things I loved, while I feel like if I had stayed much longer, those things might have gone stale for me and then the novelty would be gone.

I’ve heard it said 1000 times,”America is the best country in the world.” Though this is usually said so boldly and proud by someone who has never left the USA. I truly believe that there is greatness in the US but after seeing a pattern 6 times, can I say that a non-American would tire of our good points? Probably. I also see in the people of all countries a love for their homeland, as it is what they are, who they are, what formed them. In the same way that we overlook our own faults, we can overlook those of our nation. So will I say that America is the best, what truly make one “the best?” Is it the best for me… for sure. But that by no means implies that the world is not worth exploring. Integrate that good so you can be better. So maybe I need to gear up American style so there is no doubt where I’m from. Maybe dawn an American flag shirt….. Which I have seen abroad mores times than at home and no, none of them were Americans.

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