An American Abroad

The Ugly Americans

Oh I know what you’re thinking.  This won’t be me. This is a tired stereotype of how American’s use to look when traveling anywhere, but I know I’m not going to have this problem.

You’re right, you probably won’t have that problem. That problem being middle aged with bulky camera’s hanging down from your neck, dressed in “vintage” vacation clothes that went out years ago (well at least that goes for the guy, but I don’t care if it’s a vacation or not, that woman shouldn’t leave the house dressed like that period.) and yes, I’m confident that you are worlds ahead of these fashion “trends” and hanging paraphernalia. The classic ugly American may still venture out in the forms of older relatives you rather not be seen with in public, but not you. You’re too smart to fall into those old traps.

^ Explicit content, cover your ears

Meet Dom. Dom’s the new Ugly American, and Dom here represents the real traps that you may fall into during your escapades through Europe, and in particular, Paris.


Dom, like the Ugly American, is ignorant. As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, we tend to treat foreign counties like Disney Lands, as if they were created and exist for our entertainment. Take language barriers for example. In France, the French, speak… French. Ugly American’s understand this concept, but still seem to get frustrated when they actually encounter this dilemmas in the real world. After all as our friend Dom reminds us, “People that don’t speak Engish are less human then I am.” They also tend to rely too heavily on the notion that “Well they all took English in school, they should all know it. It’s important to know English!”

How’s those Spanish classes you took in High/Jr/Middle/Elementary School treating ya? (That’s different!) It’s not different.

To be fair, there are a good amount of Parisians that understand a decent enough amount of English and can hold a simple conversation (As the age group gets older, these odds diminish), but if you come across a group of Parisians that can’t understand you, that’s not their problem. And when you feel the urge to kick and scream over it, take a second and recall how many times back in the good old U.S. that you heard somebody bellow out “Well they’re in America, they should learn American!” The truth is I knew very little French including none when I first touched down in Charles de Gaulle Airport, and I managed fine. It goes without saying that the more French you know the better you will be ( I still said it), but if you stumble across times where the language barrier is too hard to cross, be humble about it. Accept that you’re in somebody else’s backyard and can’t explain how you got there, and do you best to move along. If you feel like this could be too much to handle for you, then look at study abroad programs in Britain. Just stay away from Wales. Nobody knows what the hell they’re saying.

Oh and yes, I said “…learn American”. On purpose. Hopefully it paints a picture of how intelligent I think those people are.

Dom also wants to know where the Italian dressing is. You may also want to know where a lot of your creature comforts are that you are use to back at home, or why are they so different/so expensive. A little story you ask? Sure. I was picking up sushi at La Grande Epicerie (best supermarket sushi you’ll ever have, by the way) and passed by a floor display of Oreo’s. I haven’t had Oreo’s in forever, including back before I left the states. But seeing those delicious sandwich cookies of sugar made me slightly home sick, and considered picking up a package. Triple Double stuffed?! Is that even legal in the states?? (Apparently they’ve been sold here the entire time. Not the point) I’m in. So I pick up my Oreo’s, my sushi, and whatever else I had at the time and checked out. I remember the price being rather steep, but I blamed in on the sushi. Getting back to my room, I took a glace at the receipt.

Oreo’s. 10.00 Euro.

WHAT? That’s like 14 dollars I just spend on Oreo’s?! Who the hell is running this country?? And don’t even try to dunk them in milk. Have you seen this stuff? Where’s the fresh milk anyway? There’s no fresh milk anywhere? I’m not drinkin’ this boxed crap.

Oh, see what I did there? I got all bend out of shape because in France, most milk is boxed instead of fresh because they have no real tradition of drinking milk by itself or putting it in coffee, and Oreo’s are imported, causing the price to be skyrocketed. Oh yeah, and that coffee I mentioned? In the morning, it’s served in a bowl. The Ugly American isn’t gonna have any of that, but if you come to another country expecting certain things to not be the same as you find in your home kitchen, you’ll live and might actually learn to like a new thing or two.  Hey, at least they have Red Bull.

Dom also thinks he could have just seen the iPhone Tower in Vegas rather then fly to Paris twice. There’s little life lessons about studying abroad to be taken out of this one. Dom’s just an idiot.

A bientot!

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