The Ugly American
     I am not perfect, and I am an American. But I did make a hell of an effort to not step on any toes when I was a guest in Europe. I learned that there are just a few things that will set you apart from the other Ugly Americans. It's true: many Europeans really don't like Americans. They have good reason: some are sore simply because America is the superpower and you gotta hate the big man. But many Europeans dislike Americans because of insensitive, rude Americnas that come throwing their weight around in Europe.
     So I made this little compilation of things I found that put me in a better light as far as the locals viewed me. And just a month after I got back I got an email from an acquaintance from college who brought these lessons home.
     First, my thoughts, then the email:

  • Keep the camera in the bag unless you are using it.
  • Keep the map in your pocket until you need it.
  • When you use your map, duck into a doorway where you don't stand out.
  • When you arrive in a place such as a restaurant, look at the menu outside. Many languages have an English and local version. Either way, figure out exactly what you want, in their language, before you go in.
  • Ideally, figour out what you want by reading a menu at a touristy place, then duck around a corner to a hole-in-the-wall and order in their language. You'll get better food and better service.
  • Once you go inside, wait. Watch how the locals order, see where they pay, look at how much they tip, if they tip.
  • Pay with cash and use exact change wherever possible.
  • Total the bill in your head and calculate the change before you pay.
  • Even if you hear a local speak English, ask if they do, in their laguage, just so they know you aren't assuming.
  • If nothing else, learn 'hello' 'goodbye' 'please' and 'thank you' in their language and pronounce them right.
  • Try not to look rich.
  • Fanny packs are for losers.
  • You don't need to wear a sunglass case on your belt.
  • you don't need a shirt that says what country or city you visited. Even your fellow Americans will think you are a sucker. OK, enough of that. Here is an example of what I would think is an Ugly American. I've changed the names to protect the accused, but everything else is true.
  • "Hey Mates,
    "Greetings from London!!! Yes Yes Yes I've been here for the past 3 days and all I gotta say is London is da bomb!!! Anywayz, let me just tell you what happened from the last email.
    So, after we got on one of those 2 story red buses to Westminister where our hotel was suppose to be, we got off and started looking for it. But dudes, this hotel was like no where near the bus stop like the hotel peeps said it was, so we ended up walking around the city for an hour and a half looking for the damn hotel. We must have asked like 20 people where it was, but no one knew. Damn these brits! In any case, frustrated and hungry, my uncle and I just got a cab. When we finally arrived, the hotel from the outside looked decent. We checked in, got our keys, and after climbing 5 flights of stairs since this place didn't have an elevator, we walked into the room to find 2 dumpy ass beds, tilted and not to mention.. had a big ass hole in the middle (I wonder?????). My uncle and I looked at eachother and said, "F**K it!! We're leaving". So we just left our hotel sayonara, and walked up the block to this fine fine establishment called the "Best Western"!! Woo hoo!!
    "In any case, after we settled in and after a fine ass english lunch at KFC, we checked out Pickadilli?! Circus, Oxford Circus (and no it's not a zoo!! They're Squares with shops and stuff), Buckingham palace where we checked out the changing of the guards, etc. So, I guess all that sorta made up for all the crap that happened that morning. It was fun. Yesterday, we went on a historic London tour where we checked out the parliment building, big ben, and tower of london. We walked around so much that |I got like two blisters on my feet. It's Sunday today and it's our last day to check out the city, do last minute shopping, etc before we leave for Paris tomorrow. I'll keep you guys posted. IN any case, I'm doing good and having a blast!
    "Okie Dokes, well I gotta get going. This internet thing is suckin' up all my dough. I'll keep you guys posted once I settle down in France. Take care and ttylaterz. Miss ya guys lots!
    Ugly American"