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How non-Americans can spot Americans

This article was on Yahoo this morning. Comments, anyone?

Posted by
13542 posts

1 Yup
2. Russians are louder
3. New York caps are popular everywhere these days, but college caps, nope.

4. The waiter may have been offended, but he took the tip too.
5. Yup
6. ehhhh, maybe
7. I always say Texas. But I think that’s different.
8. Again, she didn’t seem to mind.
9. Probably, but not me
10. Guilty

I took this horrible old flat cap (aka: ivy cap, crook cap, driving cap, cabbie cap) to Budapest with me a few weeks ago. I blended in perfectly. Proof was two ticket spot checks on the trams. Each time the guard checked everyone around me, but not me; I looked too much like a Hungarian pensioner. They ride for free. I kept wearing it for that reason alone.

Posted by
2600 posts

Easy, they always have oversized day bags from REI.

Posted by
13542 posts

The REI identifies RS people. Otherwise its just oversized and from Walmart.

Posted by
454 posts

I always say California but we are like our own country, many people all over the world have said back to me “ohhh! California!!!!” Then ask me about Hollywood, surfing, etc. I love it.

Posted by
5262 posts

Good list. I usually wear white socks at home (I'm retired) but have learned to take brown socks to Europe. They help me blend in (hah!).

Thanks for the hat idea, James, I have one of those in my closet that I never wear any more. I always thought it was called a "burglar's cap." Read too many comic books, I guess.

Posted by
2560 posts

Funny! That full Indiana Jones look is a dead giveaway in Paris!

Posted by
165 posts

Is funny when found we are from US…..how people in various countries have assumed we are from California. When we say no they will then say… Texas? Ohio is not on that list…LOL.

Posted by
18302 posts

11."They're always asking for extra ice in their drinks."

I would never ask for ice in beer or wine. Are there any other drinks? Coffee with ice?

14."They ask things like 'what is that in degrees Fahrenheit?' 'How many miles?' and 'That's two pounds'???"

So, a lot of Americans don't understand SI units. And a lot of EUropeans don't understand our units. But we are so much more considerate. Whenever a distance, weight, temperature, currency is shown in the paper, we often show the same thing in European units for them. Do they do that for us? * think we are more considerate than they are.

Americans abroad dress like they're doing some hard core exploring in
the Amazon...even when they're just visiting a European city.

Like carrying huge day packs just to visit town. Someone said it's because they don't have cars to carry extra stuff. But plenty of times I've gone into downtown Denver by public transportation WITHOUT a day pack. I never need one at home, why should I use on just because I'm in Europe?

19."When they cross the street, they expect cars to stop for them. In my country, a car will run you down without the driver thinking
twice."

Don't try that in this country. In California if a pedestrian is even thinking of stepping off the curb, you'd better stop for him or get a ticket.

20."They ask for ketchup no matter what they're eating."

I don't put ketchup on anything, not even fries. I got converted to mayo on fries a long time ago in Europe.

21."Everyone else is freezing outside and then there's that American walking around in shorts as if it's nothing."

I've worn shorts in Germany, but only in the summer. Here in Denver I think there are people who wear shorts year round. I finally decided to put mine away a week ago, and the next day I was at the Dr's. office and someone was wearing shorts.

Posted by
1348 posts

About #7... we often meet Americans in Europe and they almost always open conversation with "so what part of the States are you from?". We reply "Canada, actually", and often get wide eyed silence in response.

Posted by
18302 posts

Canada is a part of the United States. You just don't know it.

7."When Americans introduce themselves they never say they're from the US.

How many European introduce themselves as being from "Western Europe" (similar population for the US)?

Only five western European countries have more people than California. Only six EU countries have more people than NY City.

You probably wouldn't complain if someone said they were from Denmark, but Denmark has fewer people than Colorado.

Posted by
492 posts

I do enjoy that people from the US have a reputation for being overly friendly. This stereotype of the American being someone far too eager to strike up conversations with strangers is one I can live with, and certainly one that applies to me. Here in the US, it's a middle-aged "dad" trait (have you all seen those Progressive "turning in to your parents" commercials? One of the signs you're turning in to your parents is trying too hard to make idle chit chat with strangers in the store, or trying to crack silly jokes with cashiers and retail workers and such... guilty as charged!).

Posted by
4462 posts

This one makes me laugh the most! I’ve never understood the khaki vest and pants combo with all of the pockets! I saw some people who were talking about heading to Paris with those outfits and always wondered if they went clothes shopping on Day 2!

17."The way they dress. For some reason Americans abroad dress like they're doing some hard core exploring in the Amazon...even when they're just visiting a European city."

Posted by
3685 posts

Jean, you said, "I’ve never understood the khaki vest and pants combo with all of the pockets!" And ... "I saw some people who were talking about heading to Paris with those outfits and always wondered if they went clothes shopping on Day 2!"

That was in response to "For some reason Americans abroad dress like they're doing some hard core exploring in the Amazon ... even when they're just visiting a European city."

If it was in early June of 2012, they had not done any clothes shopping when they sat down next to us at a small Italian restaurant on a side street near Saint-Sulpice in Paris. The two of them, male and female, were dressed exactly alike, all in swishy beige safari style clothing with hats that matched.

They must've been freezing. Unless it was long underwear, they had nothing on that looked warm. It was cold in Paris that June. We didn't talk much. They were in a big hurry to eat and go somewhere else.

Full disclosure: My footwear would probably be odd to most Europeans. I always wear lace-up ankle boots these days. The possibility of tripping or turning an ankle, falling and breaking something was not on my radar when I lived in Nuremberg about 40 (yikes!) years ago. I dressed for work like a normal person back then and my hiking boots were only used for hiking. 😉

Posted by
4462 posts

Lo, yes! I forgot about the hats, too! 😉

Posted by
14908 posts

I went to the Art Institute of Chicago this summer and the loudest people in the galleries were speaking French.

I learned quickly that it's rude to enter a shop in France and not say "bon jour, madame/monsieur" first thing.

In Spain I had to ask for drinks without ice.

I bet Chicagoans and New Yorkers don't expect cars to stop for them - and they jaywalk (the people, not the cars). Stopping for pedestrians and (pedestrians waiting for lights) is a West Coast thing.

If I'm asked where I grew up (American accent, Israeli citizen) and I say the US and the next question is where.

Posted by
3685 posts

My favorite "where are you from" conversation happened in Inverness. I was buying tickets for the public bus that makes its way through residential neighborhoods before terminating at the Culloden Battlefield.

The woman selling me the tickets noticed my American accent and asked that inevitable question. I said Tucson and before I could get Arizona out of my mouth, she said, "I love Tucson!" It turned out that she visited her sister here every year and even was a member of the Desert Museum, as we are.

Small world indeed.

Posted by
11246 posts

I'm proud to say I don't do any of them.

NY Yankee baseball caps are popular in Europe. The one way you can tell it's a European wearing the cap and not an American....the color. The caps I have seen in Europe are red. No real NY Yankee fan would wear a red cap. It should be dark/navy blue.

I will admit to striking up conversations with some of the people working at reception in my hotels if their English is good.

I learn the local tipping policies and follow them.

When asked where I am from, I start by saying America. I'll give more details if asked.

Posted by
5618 posts

I wonder whether anybody wearing safari clothes in Europe are either on their way to/from Africa, and just traveling light, without an urban outfit?

Dead giveaway: U.S. passport.

Posted by
2713 posts

I know a guy from Buffalo who says he’s from “about 2 hours outside of Toronto”. Which is technically true, but the fact that he wants to hide being American by implying he lives in Canada is both funny and sad. I tell him to just say he’s from New York, but he’s convinced he will be better liked this way…

As for the other points, I wish I were able to strike up conversations with random people! That sometimes makes for good experiences, but I tend to be pleasant but not chatty.

Posted by
6635 posts

Hey, what happened to all those people who usually chime in and say "people don't care how you're dressed" "wear whatever you're comfortable in", or "nobody judges you on your clothing". The conversation usually trends one way or the other.

". . . those Progressive "turning in to your parents" commercials. . . "

Around here, we've been calling that, "having a Dr Rick moment". So what's wrong with having a paper airline ticket?

Posted by
1266 posts

The title of the article is "Non-Americans Are Revealing The Ways They Can “Spot An American Tourist From A Mile Away” — And I’m Both Laughing And Crying". Take a step back and recognize the article is written/edited with "comments" designed to solicit a reaction. Is there any positive intent/message within the article?
I think not.
Many of the comments responding to the article, even the OP, fall into a negative spiral of defending American travel traits or pointing a finger at Non-Americans and saying they also contribute to flawed travel habits.
Why should we respond to a land mine designed to gather Yahoo more clicks?
The RS forum is filled with people who value RS travel traits and character. Let's follow Rick's example and NOT respond to the negative. Regardless of how we choose to travel may our traits be of positive influence upon the people and places visited.
Be well, Safe Travels and Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by
1821 posts

They left out the biggest giveaway of all FAT! Americans in general are fatter than Europeans but that might be to controversial for the article.

Posted by
1016 posts

They left out the biggest giveaway of all FAT!

In general, can't argue with this, but I was in Venice for 10 days in October, and I noticed plenty of hefty German speakers there. It surprised me because, as noted, larger tourists tend to speak American English.

Posted by
52 posts

I don't go anywhere without my LSU cap and will wear it proudly in Europe. I often hear a "Go Tigers!!!".

And will say that I am from "just outside of New Orleans".

A friend of mine was visiting Venice and wasn't staying on the island. While waiting for the bus, a lady walked up with an LSU cap on. He told her that he liked her cap and gave her a "Go Tigers!!!". With a puzzled look she inquired about his comment and said that she had no idea what he was talking about. He pointed to her hat and said "I like your hat". She removed her hat, looked at it and said "I have no idea who this is, my company makes them". She was from China and on vacation after a conference in Munich. So maybe you can't just assume anymore.

Posted by
1889 posts

Thank you Chani for keeping the favorite theme of emma from london alive -- don't make overgeneralizations about either Europeans or Americans

In this case the topic of pedestrian/driver relations -- yes, on the west coast it still mystifies me that some portion of drivers will stop at an intersection if I've stepped off the curb, even when they have the green light.
It's baffllingly stupid to do that, and even though I grew up under east coast ways of doing things,
I still to this day wonder if the CA drivers who do this [stop at a green light] have ever been on foot or if they spend all their time in cars only -- have you never noticed that normal people (pedestrians) are trying to get a head start on crossing the street behind your car because there's a gap in the traffic they want to use to get across, and by slowing or stopping your car at the intersection you are making it harder for the normal people to get across? Cheese and crackers, CA Drivers! When you have the right of way, take it, so that the rest of us can get on with our day. Makes me bonkers.

Posted by
270 posts

I always say I’m from Austin, most people know that’s in Texas. I never have I said from America.

Posted by
4250 posts

We were told to cross a street in Rome "with purpose". Or we'd get run over, or if we waited for a break in traffic we'd be waiting forever. In Poland if you put a foot in the street at an uncontrolled intersection, the traffic comes to a stop.

When I travel, the loudest people are speaking Russian or Chinese.

When I took my daughters to Vienna, one of them ordered weinerschnitzel at a more well known place, the waiter immediately asked if she'd prefer french fries, and if she'd like ketchup. She was grateful. Both girls were speaking German, but immediately, he knew we were from the U.S.

Posted by
695 posts

I didn't find the Yahoo article, but am imagining one of the questions asks "where are you from?" or something similar. While living in two different Latin American countries for 9 years total I learned that those folks also consider themselves American. So I had to teach myself to answer that question with "North American" (that narrows it down a bit) or simply "the United States." Is this a big deal? Probably not, just sharing a life experience.

Posted by
2466 posts

We were asked if we were British in a cafe on the island of korčula. Being from Brooklyn I was surprised, never have I been mistaken for a a Brit. The group asking were Germans. About striking up conversations, my husband speaks a few languages and speaks to everyone he encounters, in any country - taxi drivers, tour guides, waiters, salespeople. They go on and on, sometimes laughing, sometimes serious. Hardly ever is he rebuked. Many people are curious about America just as we are about Europe.

Posted by
5547 posts

As a non-American, to answer the question posed:

Footwear, particularly for older people. Very white trainers (sneakers) on pensioners, particularly men = American

Ladies over 40 wearing capri trousers.

Men tucking polo shirts into belted trousers.

Hair cuts and ladies over 40 wearing their hair long, not a short crop.

Ladies jewellery

Wanting to talk to people on public transport.

I don’t think the bags are a giveaway as many people use backpacks instead of briefcases in cities these days. No one could care if you are from Texas, California, America or Canada - or know the difference!

Posted by
3 posts

Re: "Where are you from?"
I assume the question comes after I have spoken at least one sentence, and therefore the person knows from my accent I am North American. Therefore, I will say "Midwest US," and then "Wisconsin," and then "150 miles north of Chicago."
Sometimes the response is, "Oh, a cheesehead," or "Oh, I lived in Oconomowoc." And with the correct pronunciation!
Yes, small world.

Posted by
23 posts

I assume the question comes after I have spoken at least one sentence, and therefore the person knows from my accent I am North American.

This is exactly why I typically lead with what state I'm from (Kentucky - and not ashamed of that in the least, as implied by a previous poster), instead of saying "the US." In most cases they've already gathered that much just from hearing my accent.

Posted by
1348 posts

I wonder, do any Canadians lead with their province when asked where they are from? I am willing to guess not many. When asked, I lead with Canada. If they ask where in Canada, I never say Ontario. I either just say Toronto (which I'm not), or "90 minutes away from Toronto". Most who get past the Canada part seem to know of Toronto and Vancouver.

Are Canadian provinces known even half as well as American states?

Posted by
1817 posts

"Canada is a part of the United States. You just don't know it."

Ooo....fightin' talk...... ;))

Never, my friend, never.

When talking about who are the loudest travelers, it's not Americans ; twice I have come across tour groups of middle aged Israeli ladies who were unbelievably loud, rude and disrespectful...once to waitstaff in Turkey, and once kicking up a ruckus in a teeny church near Orvieto.
The lone priest inside was rooted to the spot in horror.
I actually told them to be quiet and show some respect in the church.

Posted by
94 posts

Does it matter? No...

But some of these responses do seem to reinforce the mixture of ignorance and arrogance that can be seen as a stereotype of American travellers.

I think you'd find that many non-Americans (including those that have seen some of the world), wouldn't confidently know that Austin is in Texas, let alone what or where Tuscon is.

Unless the question was 'Where in the US are you from'?, I would find it an odd assumption that stating someones home city in the US would be sufficient to a non-american (excluding LA, NY, a few others). Same with giving your state or airport acronym.

Maybe I'm jealous as I 'm lucky if someone knows Australia...let alone NZ! :)

Posted by
1557 posts

I’ve met many Europeans who only give the name of the city or town they live in. None of this matters,of course.
As long as people are respectful and not obnoxious, live and let live! There are loudmouths and obnoxious people in every culture.

Posted by
1016 posts

In 2019, a young man and I were both waiting for the sun to start to set to get some shots of the Roman Forum. We asked each other where we were from--he, Germany, me US--and we both followed up with where in the respective country. Seems a pretty universal question, and I always start with US, and, if asked, give more detail. Besides LA, San Diego seems to be fairly well known in Western Europe--handy for me--I just say I'm from between them.

BTW, he tried to teach me the German equivalent of, if memory serves, the term "f-stop." It was a real tongue-twister!

Posted by
5262 posts

I was in a London cafe a few years ago. A family sat down nearby, wearing Seattle Seahawks jerseys. The Hawks were playing in London that weekend. I assumed they were diehard fans who had made the trip to see the game. As I was leaving I stopped by their table and said something about being neighbors. They gave me blank stares, and after a moment the dad said "Ve are from Germany." Oops, my mistake.

Gave me new respect for the Seahawks' international appeal. (This was when they were winning.)

Posted by
2987 posts

Hair cuts and ladies over 40 wearing their hair long, not a short crop.

Um, this is associated with women over 65, but 40? Jesus christ, I'm not a senior citizen. Nor have I seen women over 40 wearing their hair old lady style in the UK, for that matter. How bizarre.

Anyway some of this is accurate but the loudest tourists are Aussies. They put Americans to shame.

Posted by
166 posts

The discussion of where we identify ourselves as being from makes me wonder if we view our primary identity as being from our city/state more than as being an American. For example, Rick has talked about how people view themselves as Catalonian first and Spanish second. Given how geographically big America is, maybe we have stronger regional identities than national.

I did a study abroad during college. I liked to guess where people were from. Generally speaking, Americans are fairly easy to spot. The only people i ever confused for Americans would be Germans sometimes. Maybe it makes sense given how many Americans have German ancestry.

Posted by
2319 posts

I wonder, do any Canadians lead with their province when asked where
they are from?

When asked, my standard line is that I'm from Calgary in Canada. Most don't know where it is but occasionally it brings up a conversation about the Stampede or Banff.

*I'll give the same response if an American asks. Most don't know where it is until I say we're a 3 hour drive north of Montana. But on my one and only RS tour, every American on the tour knew where Calgary was and around half had been there.

Posted by
2319 posts

But some of these responses do seem to reinforce the mixture of
ignorance and arrogance that can be seen as a stereotype of American
travellers.

I think you'd find that many non-Americans (including those that have
seen some of the world), wouldn't confidently know that Austin is in
Texas, let alone what or where Tuscon is.

I wonder if our Austin, Texas friend knows that there are 22 Austin's in the US?

Posted by
8112 posts

Oh no! My hair is long and I am over 60. Seriously? I have never heard of this, so it must be a UK thing. No one ever thinks I am American until I speak German and even then they don't know. They just know I am not German. As to the white sneakers, please visit your local shoe store like Foot Lockers in Germany, France, Spain, etc, and see the 100s of blinding white sneakers. This has not been a clue for probably decades.

Seniors wearing parachute pants, polo shirts tucked into gathered waistbands, certain hair cuts on men, and the "tourist" clutch on any purse or bag in fears that it might be stolen.

It is the walk mostly, it is just different. I can't explain it.

In restaurants? It is the switching hands while cutting and eating that does it. Or holding the silverware in your fist, or using your thumb to scoop food on your fork.

Posted by
4250 posts

@Allan, if its any consolation, few Europeans seem to know where Minnesota is. We typically respond with "we are from the U.S." If we are asked further, we'll say "Minnesota". Every once and a while someone knows of Minnesota, if not, when pressed further, we say, "near the border with Canada". Once a person said, "oh, I know, Minnesota, in Canada. I thought you said, U.S."

We've encountered international travelers quite frequently at national parks. We seem to most often see Germans, French and Chinese. There seems to be a typical route through the U.S. NYC, sometimes D.C. often Disneyworld, infrequently Chicago, then big jump to a grand circle of Utah, Colorado national parks, maybe Yellowstone on to LA and possibly San Francisco. We've ended up talking with travelers quite often, especially Germans who are needing directions since my children speak German. Its safe to say that few that we talk to have an inkling where Minnesota is. Some have heard of Minnesota's "Mall of America", which is about the last thing we think Minnesota should be known for.

Posted by
3685 posts

Okay, I can't let this slide by. It's TuCson, not TuScon. Many people, especially those who've been to Italy, make that mistake because of Tuscany.

The history of the name is as follows:

"The name of the city of Tucson derives from that given to Sentinel Mountain by [Tohono O’odham] Indians, Ts-iuk-shan, referring to the fact that the base of the mountain is darker than its summit. ... Tu-uk-so-on [also] means "black base.”.... Indians customarily name locations for nearby landmarks, hence the name of the now-vanished Indian community at the base of Sentinel Mountain. Spanish pronunciation yielded Tuqui Son or the current Tucson."

Source:
Granger, Byrd H. Arizona's Names: X Marks the Place. [Tucson, Ariz.?] : Falconer Pub. Co. c1983. Page 630.

The "black base" is all about the extinct volcano here, hence a very significant landmark to the native peoples of our area.

Fortunately, there is only one Tucson and Google will redirect to the correct spelling. If you insist on clicking on Tuscon, you will get something entirely different from a city name.

When I was traveling in my younger days, as a native Texan, my response to the "where are you from" question was always Texas. I never met anyone anywhere who hadn't heard of Texas or didn't know that it's in the United States.

As for there being lots of Austins, any fan of Formula 1 racing in the world will assume that it's the town in Texas where the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is.

Posted by
5858 posts

Like Jules M, we say we are from the US, if pressed further, then Iowa. If it registers recognition from the person, we will give the town, if not, we say the middle of the country, occasionally if they press, we say it is near Chicago (well several hundred miles, but close enough)

As for the article, some context.

The person writing it did all the work of looking at a Thread on Reddit, probably the r/AskReddit sub, or one dedicated to travel. Someone asked the question, and responses are from any anonymous person, may not be a Non-American, could be from anywhere in the world, no clue as to how they encounter "Americans" (work in travel, see Americans on the street, in movies and TV, who knows) and likely, respondents are in the 15 to 30 age range. Posters also get "upvotes" for clever, funny, or even outrageous comments...also downvotes if the community does not like what they are saying. This concludes my Dr. Rick lecture in case you were unfamiliar with Reddit (as noted by a couple comments above) Basically, this is not some well thought out poll or even a well thought out article with curated sources.

Posted by
1117 posts

This can be a fun kind of question as long as we're not being judgemental one way or the other. Which works fine because most of the things I would spot an American by work both ways.

  • Tennis shoes and white socks vs. brown or black street shoes.
  • The hairdo. For older men, think Ronald Reagan. For women... well... a hairdo making them two inches taller.
  • A clear giveaway for women: the makeup.
  • For the women: blouses tucked into their pants. (Or have they stopped doing that?)
  • The fearlessness in talking to strangers or talking in public is totally true. I have had American visitors at a somewhat larger public event, and I asked them to please stand up and tell everybody where they are from etc.. I knew I could do this with them without embarrassing them, and they spoke freely and without hesitation. I could never have done this with German visitors unless I knew them very well. Many would have disappeared under their chairs had they been asked something like that in public.

Having said that, of course these are stereotypes or on-the-average statements. Obviously, there are shy Americans or heavily made up Europeans. But as long as these observations are just friendly and taken with a grain of salt, I have no issues with that.

Posted by
4690 posts

I think that the American interest in European ancestry is hard for Europeans to understand. Saying that your great-great grandfather was from some village in Germany is weird to people over here, for the most part.

Posted by
4665 posts

I think that the American interest in European ancestry is hard for Europeans to understand. Saying that your great-great grandfather was from some village in Germany is weird to people over here, for the most part.

Yes, just like Joe Biden insisting he's Irish. At what point do you just accept that you're the nationality that you're born? My grandparents were Polish and Irish and whilst I acknowledge those roots I don't consider myself anything other than English.

Posted by
1117 posts

No, that's not it. Many Germans dabble in genealogy too, so that's not what's weird to us.

What sounds weird to us is that Americans tend to describe their ancestry by saying "I am German", not "My grandmother was from Germany". And then, when we start talking German to them, they don't understand a word. :D

Posted by
2466 posts

Just chiming in on sports clothing. My husband wears his Rijeka Soccer club baseball cap and jacket whenever we travel and at home. I can’t tell you how many Croatian people stop him to talk, in every country we have visited. Also, What’s wrong with women wearing capris. Better then the man capris which seem to be very popular among all ages of Europeans.

Posted by
1277 posts

Like Paul, I live in iowa, and the "near Chicago " seems to be the anchor that folks need. Sadly, I have meet plenty of U.S. citizens who giggle and confess something like "I always get Iowa-Illinois-indiana-ohio confused 😕"
And yes, regionalism is a whole thing..... I could make a long list of the ways the lives of my friends in Texas and Mississippi are entirely different.

And yes, the obsession that many folks have with their European heritage is hard to nail down. I must confess I thought my DNA origin test would show 90% German and 10% Irish.... my latent Irish heritage was horrified when it came back 69% English. Bloody landlords.

Posted by
2319 posts

Not just genealogy, but our fascination with how old things are. I include myself in that group. More than once in England when I asked how old a building was I got strange 'who cares' looks from locals. I have to explain that the oldest standing structure in my home town was built between 1876 and 1881, and even that is pretty rare.

Posted by
5547 posts

My hair comment was a generalisation, but watching American tv, a much higher proportion of older ladies have long hair compared with the U.K. and places such as Spain, France and Portugal where I holiday regularly.

Again, a much higher proportion of older American men I see in London wear new “very white” trainers compared to U.K. men of the same age.

Posted by
6635 posts

Again, a much higher proportion of older American men I see in London wear new “very white” trainers compared to U.K. men of the same age.

Well, some of us older American men like to look our best when traveling 🙂.

Posted by
3304 posts

I think a great deal of what has been said here is bumpf. However, the one sure give away that a person is American Is the use of cutlery. How or why that became standard is buried deep in the past, but we all do it. (Can’t remember if Canadians do.) The switching of utensils really makes no sense; but after years of doing it, it’s quite hard to change.

Posted by
279 posts

For a few people on here who have indicated that it is hard to understand why some Americans identify themselves with their European ancestry, I can offer a theory.

Many Americans of European descent are not that far removed (relatively speaking) from ancestors who came to America from Germany, Poland, Ireland, etc,, and those immigrants tended to live and work together in areas or neighborhoods where cultural, linguistic and other shared connections helped them forge the only sense of community they had in a new place. For example, my great grandfather was a Polish immigrant who never learned English and lived his entire life here among the large Polish communities in Chicago and Milwaukee. A few generations later, the family's traditional roots in Poland are lost to me but the fact that there was a pride and community that sustained my ancestors here is something I'm actually proud of.

In a sense it has nothing to do with the village in Europe they came from, in my view. It has much more to do with the experiences in America that many immigrants faced and the need to rely upon their own community to help them make their way. For some of us, that resonates even today many years after our ancestors arrived here from Europe.

Posted by
2600 posts

I think that the American interest in European ancestry is hard for Europeans to understand. Saying that your great-great grandfather was from some village in Germany is weird to people over here, for the most part.

Having lived in the USA for a few years, I was shocked when I first saw some American friends of mine "gift" a genealogy test for her birthday, you would definitely not see that in Europe lol, that's way too personal!

In Europe I think the thought of a Genealogy Test is a big red flag, first a private company has access to all your personal ancestry info. More importantly, let's just say its a rather precarious enterprise to go digging around into your family history if you're a European, especially with all the turmoil of the early 20th century. Best to keep the skeletons in the closet and let sleeping dogs lie.

On the other hand, most Americans can safely be detached from whatever results their genealogy research comes up with, like "what happened in Europe stays in Europe".

Posted by
592 posts

I think Jennifer, Jo and others have identified some of the differences in clothing, appearance, habits, etc. While it may not always be easy to identify individual Americans, it is simpler when they are in a group. Stand outside the Abbey in Bath and watch passengers get off coaches. Fifty Americans will look quite different from fifty French, of fifty British visitors. In Britain, we can easily identify a North American accent, so if we ask where you came from, we want to know more than "USA". Don't forget that many of us have visited America, or have family members living there. These may be concentrated in particular cities or states, but we may be interested if you come from somewhere we know.

Posted by
2466 posts

Bob, so true. We were in a beer garden in Munich and the German couple sitting next to us said, excuse me, I hear you speaking English, would you mind talking to me, I would like to practice my English. We said, sure, go for it. He asked where we were from in America. He had been to Texas for a few months for work. I told him I had a brother who lived in Texas and that was all he needed. He told us all about his experiences - driving, food, work - and it was a lovely conversation. So, some Europeans do start conversations with strangers and that is a good thing.

Posted by
204 posts

I try to blend it to the country I am visiting and will try to speak their language (thank you, please, good morning, etc...) and will ask them how to say things in their language ... I think it shows some respect to them and their country ... and in turn they are seem to be friendlier and more helpful ... I want to leave an impression that not all Americans are ugly ...

When asked where I'm from, I always say Texas (sometimes I add United States .. and may also add born in New York City) ... many years ago had someone reply, as their eyes opened wide, "Do you know JR?" ...

Never wore shorts in Europe, usually a light weight khaki or jeans ... will wear sneakers (tennis shoes or whatever term you prefer ... and never new whities) and white socks which weren't really visible ... now it's either light-weight sneakers when it's warmer and dry or water-proof hiking shoes when it's cooler and possibly wet ... with merino wool cushioned socks ... those combinations worked great when we did a couple of 12 mile walking trips around both Rome and Paris ...

Love the Progressive airport commercial ... guilty of all except asking the gate agent when does she think it will depart ... as a non-rev, we just show up, watch the board and wait (hope) for our name to be called ...

Posted by
1117 posts

I want to leave an impression that not all Americans are ugly ...

That is something I have been wondering about. I have heard people of different nationalities say that same sentence, so there seem to be different "ugly" people around... or rather, people who look upon themselves as being ugly. Not sure where this self-deprecating tendency comes from, but Americans don't seem to have the exclusive rights to that. :-)

As a matter of fact, I don't believe that's how other people stereotypically see Americans at all. If we are looking for stereotypes, it would rather be the overly friendly, ever-smiling American whose smile may be looked upon as being insincere. I am aware that it isn't; Americans simply express their enthusiasm on a different scale than Europeans do.

There is something I do find "ugly", and that is the attitude "God speaks my language", and expecting everyone else to speak it too. Americans I am afraid are notorious for their lack of knowledge of foreign languages, but Germans certainly are not immune either. I must admit that it does annoy me when Americans walk into a store on Heidelberg's main street and address the salesperson in English without so much as an attempt of a "guten Tag". No one expects them to be fluent, and of course the sales staff speak English, but that is just bad style. I have seen this behavior from Germans too in other countries, and it annoys me even more because it makes me feel ashamed for my own people.

Posted by
2987 posts

We were in a beer garden in Munich and the German couple sitting next to us said, excuse me, I hear you speaking English, would you mind talking to me, I would like to practice my English. We said, sure, go for it. He asked where we were from in America. He had been to Texas for a few months for work. I told him I had a brother who lived in Texas and that was all he needed.

This happens constantly. It's quite charming, really - a German will overhear me speaking English and will ask where in the States we come from, to which I say "California" or "San Francisco" because these get delighted reactions. Their eyes take on this dreamy look, and it's either, "I have always wanted to go to California," or I will hear about the trip they took to San Francisco in 1973. It's quite a romantic ideal to a lot of Europeans (and maybe Germans in particular? I've never had an Irish person react this way!)

Othertimes it's "I have a sister in New Mexico" and that is seen as a great bond between us, which is quite cute as well. Germans aren't always the most outgoing but it's clear that for many that have some connection with the US - even if it was a vacation 40 years ago - really relish the opportunity to have a chat about it with an American.

As for the other subject, it is awful that so many Americans (not the people on this board, obviously) won't make an effort to greet people in their native language when traveling or learn to say "Do you speak English?" in the native language. I am convinced that my fellow military-affiliated Americans who complain about the snobby Europeans have experienced this due to making no effort language-wise. I am poor at languages, I will never be fluent in German, let alone French, but I make the effort and never expect anyone I'm interacting with to speak English, and I seem to have had a lot fewer encounters with "snobby Europeans" as a result - who'd have thought it?

Also while many people are made to learn English in school, perhaps like me they aren't good at languages, or they are immigrants from another country and are already bilingual but not, God forbid, trilingual - and expecting them to speak English can bring up a lot of anxiety. Someone may have taken calculus in high school, but if you put them on the spot and forced them to calculus on demand, I think the feeling of anxiety and resentment would be similar! But unfortunately some of my peers seem to think that all Europeans are capable of speaking English and simply choose not to to make their lives difficult. It's an ugly attitude.

Posted by
204 posts

That is something I have been wondering about. I have heard people of different nationalities say that same sentence, so there seem to be different "ugly" people around... or rather, people who look upon themselves as being ugly. Not sure where this self-deprecating tendency comes from, but Americans don't seem to have the exclusive rights to that. :-)

I agree ... I think all have their 'ugly' tourists, each with probably a slightly different definition of what ugly is ... sad part is, many probably don't even realize they are being ugly ... or worse, don't care. They are under the opinion you should be thankful I am here feeding your tourism coffers and if you don't like it, I'll go somewhere else (customer is always right syndrome) ... that chaps my hide to no end.

As a matter of fact, I don't believe that's how other people stereotypically see Americans at all. If we are looking for stereotypes, it would rather be the overly friendly, ever-smiling American whose smile may be looked upon as being insincere. I am aware that it isn't; Americans simply express their enthusiasm on a different scale than Europeans do.

It's like anything else ... you don't hear about the good nearly as much as you hear about the bad ... I've read many travel articles about travelling abroad that will say don't be the ugly American ... and I've seen/heard American tourists who think their host country should be just like their country and get upset (ugly) when it is not ... had breakfast at Il Pirata in Vernazza in 2016 and this sign was in the window (ok, I admit I had to go back to my pictures to look up some specifics and copy the wording, but I remembered the sign and it being in one of the Cinque Terra towns, which I'll take as a victory ... and pardon the caps, this is exactly what it says) ... WE DO NOT SERVE EGGS!!! PLEASE, DON'T ASK. THIS IS Italy! EAT OUR FOOD! ... and I did and it was AWESOME!

There is something I do find "ugly", and that is the attitude "God speaks my language", and expecting everyone else to speak it too. Americans I am afraid are notorious for their lack of knowledge of foreign languages, but Germans certainly are not immune either. I must admit that it does annoy me when Americans walk into a store on Heidelberg's main street and address the salesperson in English without so much as an attempt of a "guten Tag". No one expects them to be fluent, and of course the sales staff speak English, but that is just bad style. I have seen this behavior from Germans too in other countries, and it annoys me even more because it makes me feel ashamed for my own people.

I don't work with nor am I exposed to many foreign speaking tourists so I can't speak to that so will take your word for it ... but seeing how English is the most common language (evidenced by English being the language used for commercial aviation worldwide), foreign tourists can probably converse easier over here than Americans can over there, especially since (I'm guessing) most students in other countries take English in school (required?)... when I went to school in the 70's, high school offered a few languages (Spanish, French and German being the most common), with more being offered in college ... did I remember anything from my 2 semesters of French 40 years prior when we went travelled around France in 2017? ... not really (except the cuss words of course :-) ), but I tried ... when I travel, I'll start by trying to say hello in the country's language and then ask if they speak English ... if they don't, we'll all figure it out as we go ... if they do, I try to communicate in their language as best I can and ask "did I say that right?" ... yeah, I'll forget how to say it later but to me, that personal interaction with someone from a foreign land in their language is all part of the fun of travelling.

Posted by
14908 posts

I always assumed the term "the ugly American" was a legacy of the book by that name from 1958 and the subsequent movie.

Israelis abroad assume no one else speaks Hebrew. They are often surprised and all too frequently embarrassed when the find out someone else does too.

Several years ago, I was crossing the border from Israel to Jordan. There was a long line of Asian women in the ladies' speaking Chinese among themselves. I asked one of them where they were from - the surprising answer was New Jersey.

Posted by
5618 posts

Tennis shoes and white socks vs. brown or black street shoes

Does anybody wear white socks with brown or black street shoes? Well, Cliff Claven on Cheers did, but anybody else?

Posted by
5858 posts

Having lived in the USA for a few years, I was shocked when I first saw some American friends of mine "gift" a genealogy test for her birthday, you would definitely not see that in Europe lol, that's way too personal

Interestingly, while I am far from a "conspiracy believer" I do marvel that millions gave away their DNA information to determine their ancestry, that is now part of a database frequently used to identify criminals. We have had no less than a half dozen old crimes (we are talking from the 80's) from our region "solved" using these tests. Some, they had little other evidence than a match on Ancestry.com or other sites. On one hand good, on the other very scary.

Posted by
1117 posts

I would see this less as a difference in believing conspiracy theories but as a difference in how you want your private data handled. I think Europeans, as a rule, tend to be more protective of their data privacy. We don't want our DNA in the hands of some company who might eventually sell it to insurances or pass it on to government agencies.

On a side note, old crimes being solved might be considered a good thing, but I would expect that it is much more common that these DNA tests lead you to find out things you maybe didn't want to know. Like that you have a sister you never knew about. Or that your father isn't your father.

Posted by
204 posts

Never had any real interest other than pure curiosity in doing the ancestry.com thing (not that I have anything to fear from any past transgression but you never know if the gum wad you tossed that day was taken as evidence later at the scene of a crime ... I'm too old to do time ... and too pretty haha) ... I'm happy knowing my all grandparents came from Ireland and Germany so I claim that as my heritage ... and I also know I am a descendent of an Irish king (along with probably millions of others) so I'm good ... so if we ever meet, just call me Prince ... no wait, that's taken ... Your Highness will work just fine :-)

Posted by
18302 posts

What's wrong with people here? Why don't they speak English?

Of course they speak English. Everyone in Europe speaks English (along with 5 or 6 other "second" languages). They just didn't hear you (or maybe they are ignoring you). Speak up so they can hear you.

Posted by
14908 posts

Ask any Brit, they'll tell you Americans are incapable of speaking English. . . or spelling it for that mattre :-)

Posted by
60 posts

The Americans are the ones pretending to not be Americans. Having been fortunate enough to have had a checkered past , it is reflected in my "n'er do well" appearance . Hence some French people approach speaking to me in their native language . Realizing they have been fooled , they embark upon a tirade of obscenities. The joy this brings is immeasurable . ....twopffenig

Posted by
60 posts

God bless the seamy side and the underbelly of the City...twopffenig

Posted by
4690 posts

@steve - never said I didn’t understand the fascination with ancestry. In fact, I have an active ancestry account with massive family trees and DNA results. My grandfather was born in a small village in Austria (I am also a quarter Belorussian, a quarter Swiss and a quarter Texan). I sought ought long lost relatives in the Austrian village and it took me two years to convince the families that I wasn’t up to something. I also frequently tell Austrians about my grandfather in conversation and they almost always are confused.

Posted by
18302 posts

Ask any Brit, they'll tell you Americans are incapable of speaking English.

"There are even places where English completely disappears. Why, in American they haven't used it for years."

I almost agree, except the language should really be called American, since there are many times more us as than there are English. Like it or not, American has become the linque franca of the world, particularly the Internet. English is a minor dialect of the American language.

Posted by
1889 posts

But Lee, the presenters on the American broadcasts of DW News and France24 that I see speak English primarily, not American, and most of the signage for international visitors in the French and German and Spanish airports that I've been through is in British English, not in American English -- I agree with you that there are far more speakers of American than of British English, but it does not follow (so far) that American has become the lingua franca --
and in the next few decades the number of American English speakers will be eclipsed by the number of Chinese speakers of English and Nigerian speakers of English and probably Indian speakers of English, so 'American' will be about 5th on the overall list. It's already been true for a few years that more people in China are learning English than in the USA.

(And the major American automobile manufacturers sell more cars in China than in the USA, and I think a lot of cultural products like movie tickets and small electronic devices are also chasing the Asian markets more than the Americans -- our (American) disposable income has been redistributed to the 0.1% so keeping the consumer economy going is more dependent on places with a rising middle class, not a collapsing one like ours.)

Posted by
8112 posts

Pretty sure all of the people in Australia, New Zealand, India, S. Africa, Canada, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. will be surprised to learn that their English is only a subset of American.

Posted by
203 posts

I agree with the last two comments about global English(es). I absolutely do not think American English has the upper-hand in the world of international Englishes. Moreover, I really strongly agree that no native-speaker variety of English is actually globally dominant anymore. There are much more of us who speak it as a second language than those of you who speak it as a first, and we get by just fine with our various Euro-English variants and so on.

I imagine that this must be weird for English native-speakers (that is, to be native speakers, but not be really fully in control of the development of the language, such as it is). But it is the reality outside of the Anglo-sphere, where very often you have large groups of non-native English-speakers using the language among themselves, without any real input from native-speakers about what "correct" looks like in that context. "Brussels English" from the EU bureaucratic context is just one example of this.

Posted by
592 posts

I always understood that there were more English speakers in India than in any other country. One of the most precise English speakers I know was born and brought up in India, and is of mixed ancestry.

Posted by
3685 posts

Here are some worldwide language statistics from Berlitz dated 31 May 2021: https://www.berlitz.com/en-uy/blog/most-spoken-languages-world

I remember being in the bar of the "tourist" hotel in Moscow in the early 80's. I was surprised to hear so much English being spoken, considering the very diverse clientele. But if that Japanese guy and that Swedish guy wanted to talk, English was their common language.

Posted by
1765 posts

Maybe I'm jealous as I 'm lucky if someone knows Australia...let alone NZ! :)

And I'd be happy to listen to true kiwi once in a while here in Bavaria and to refresh my memories of my academic exchange year way back in the 80s! Anyway: I wouldn't be at a loss if someone told me they were from Dunedin or Invercargill or even St Bathans (in the latter case I'd say the owner of the pub was a good friend of mine. ;)

Posted by
1219 posts

"Hey, what happened to all those people who usually chime in and say "people don't care how you're dressed" - Never fear, Stan. I'm the man to save your day, leading the charge on my big white stead. It's true, noone really gives a flip how you dress. For me, the only bothersome thing about clothes is when fat old Russians take them off in a German spa.

"I know a guy from Buffalo who says he’s from “about 2 hours outside of Toronto” - I don't know about you, Mira, but I'm totally against this kind of cultural appropriation. Next thing you know we'll be having chic Italians wearing white socks and sandals, or an Estonian owning an 'authentic' fish and chip shop, with mushy peas on the menu to boot. Where will it all end?

"NY Yankee baseball caps are popular in Europe. The one way you can tell it's a European wearing the cap and not an American....the color." - Frank, my Welsh uncle and his friend, who lived in Mansfield, England, both wore deep blue NYY caps when visiting mainland Europe. They even tried the accent, Joe Pesci-like, and they could amuse you to no end: definitely no worse an attempt than Dick Van Dyke's Cockney perversion.

Languages evolve over time, for better or worse, and changes spread more quickly nowadays. As a youth/young man I lived on and off in England over a period of several years. People mimicked my "no problem", which is a common phrase over there now. "Tell me about it" is another one, though I don't recall hearing that phrase in Canada as a young man. I "dove" into the pool made people laugh at the time.

Posted by
3659 posts

I wonder, do any Canadians lead with their province when asked where they are from?

No, it literally never happens. Even after a long conversation where it’s clearly established by accent that both parties are North American, the answer to, “Where are you from” is always just the frustrating “Canada.” An American in the same situation always responds with a city or state. When I’ve recognized the speaker is Canadian by accent/speech, I’ve learned to jump to, “Where in Canada are you from”? in order to get a useful reply.

I’ve asked many Canadians why this happens and never got a satisfactory answer, and clearly they have never heard the question before.

Posted by
1117 posts

Let me venture a guess: I assume that many Canadians have become quite modest in their expectations and are happy if people at least realize that there is more to North America than the United States. Being considerate people, they don't want to ask too much of the other person. :-)

Posted by
2319 posts

Just for Tom I'll repost my answer from last week.

When asked, my standard line is that I'm from Calgary in Canada. Most
don't know where it is but occasionally it brings up a conversation
about the Stampede or Banff.

I do this so people won't automatically assume I'm from Toronto. Kill me now if someone were to think I keep a Leafs jersey in my closet.

Anna, you're correct. There are a lot of benefits of living next door to our friends to the south, but it can be frustrating that so little is known about us compared to the US. I remember our RS guide in France in a conversation saying that Canadians and Americans were both called Americans because we're all the same to Europeans. I hope that's not really true.

Posted by
3659 posts

Most don't know where it is

Is this really true? I would just answer “Calgary” since everyone should know where that is. Or say “Where the Fargo shows are filmed.”

Anna:

Imagine a German, Italian, and Spaniard all answering “Europe” to that question. Not very useful.

Posted by
1117 posts

I remember our RS guide in France in a conversation saying that
Canadians and Americans were both called Americans because we're all
the same to Europeans. I hope that's not really true.

What a silly thing to say. Well, I guess a Canadian could certainly add to the confusion by saying "I'm American".

And now I'm only waiting for the Mexicans to chime in. :-)

Imagine a German, Italian, and Spaniard all answering “Europe” to that
question. Not very useful.

@Tom, I was trying to give a possible explanation. Not saying it's useful.

But then, would it sound useful to the average American if I told them I was born in Schleswig-Holstein? Or would any one of us know the city of Fuzhou (six times the size of Calgary) a Chinese visitor might name as their place of origin?

I have learned to give people a break for not knowing things about the other side of the planet. During my first visits to the United States as a kid, I can't count the number of times I was asked "Are you from East or West Germany?", which, to anyone knowing the political situation, was quite a stupid question. But then, what stupid questions would I have asked had I met someone from Korea? I probably didn't even know there was a North and a South Korea back then.

P.S. I was also asked many other stupid questions, like "Do you have TV in Germany?", but that's a different story. :D

Posted by
94 posts

Perhaps it's a little daft to have Americans commenting on what non-Americans know or think :)

FYI - Calgary is not known by almost everyone.

FYI - Fargo likely won't help clarify

Posted by
1117 posts

FYI - Calgary is not known by almost everyone.

FYI - Fargo likely won't help clarify

Very true. :D

(Fargo? Isn't that a bank?)

Posted by
2266 posts

Yes, concur with the "USA travelers are fat". Few Europeans that I know are fat. US tourists are fat, mostly.

The ice thing is a US thing that we don't participate in. I wear socks with my sandals, but usually a patterned dark sock.

My main tell is my big camera, and my hat with many many many pins.

Of late, the loudest, most self-absorbed, least pleasant, least observant groups are Chinese. I almost got knocked over by a Chinese group running around playfully in a souvenir shop. I just ignored them, and bulled through.

Posted by
1117 posts

Yes, concur with the "USA travelers are fat". Few Europeans that I
know are fat. US tourists are fat, mostly.

In light of the original question - "How non-Americans can spot Americans" - I'll have to say: No. "Fat" is definitely not what we spot Americans by. And most certainly there are fat Europeans. The one visible difference is that the United States seem to have more of the extremes. We have many people who are moderately fat. What we don't have as much is cases of really extreme obesity.

Obesity, in many regions, is a lower class phenomenon. I would assume that lower class people, on the average, simply do not have the means to travel as much, so you won't see them as tourists all over the world.

Posted by
6 posts

No matter where I travel to as soon as I open my mouth they know I'm a Nu Yawker. lol.

Posted by
1117 posts

Use Money belts....

Oh! Now I get why you say we can spot Americans because they look fat! :D

Posted by
5559 posts

50 years ago on the streets of Germany, my 501's + black Chuck Taylor Converse tennies garnered some intense, sustained stares, the sort of stares you might get if 2 or 3 skunks were clinging to your shoelaces, or your unbuttoned button-fly were flapping in the breeze.

I'm not sure what their reactions would be if I dressed like that now.

Posted by
321 posts

This whole thing about Canadians identifying as being from Canada is (in my opinion) very situational. It seems to me that many Canadians assume that Europeans and US citizens won't have a clue where they are from if they tell you so the stock answer is, Canada or a province if they don't live in one of the big cities.
This is (from my experience) more likely if they are from a Western province or from up North in the East. Case in point, if I told someone that I'm from Lethbridge, who (except a hockey fanatic) would know where that is. Outside of Calgary would or simply Canada would be more likely.
Over here on the East side, if I said Chicoutimi no one (except a hockey buff) would have a clue. Maybe the answer would be outside of QC but more likely you would simply hear Quebec since there is a desire to identify as independent in this French speaking area.
Folks between Toronto and Ottawa almost always respond with Ontario since folks outside of that area have no clue that Brantford is not Toronto and Nepean or Kanata is not Ottawa.
It's been my experience that if you can let a Canadian know that you are actually familiar with their provinces they are far more likely to tell you where they are from. And as has been noted, not all Canadians are Leafs (or Canadians) fans.

Posted by
3659 posts

I haven’t noticed a difference in the “Canada” reply in people from Toronto or Vancouver so I don’t think it’s a fear of ignorance of hometown that’s inspiring the short reply.

I have relatives connections in Winnipeg and Vancouver along with lots of trips around Canada so am frustrated with the simple “Canada” reply. Also “Canada” can mean a 3 day drive from my house or several hours.

Personally I stopped treating everyone like a 10 year old and just say where I am from. If they ask for details I’ll move to the “near Chicago” reply (there must be 75 million Americans saying that). Sometimes the exchange turns into a geography lesson.

Just stating facts: I know where Lethbridge is, and where Fuzhou and Schleswig-Holstein are (anyone who’d taken a European history class should know the latter).

Posted by
8768 posts

Speaking of geography lessons, when we are traveling and if people ask, we tell them we are from California. If they ask where in California, we tell them Sacramento. It always amazes me how many Europeans know that Sacramento is the capital of California. Sadly the same can’t be said for many Americans. I believe that most think that L.A. is the capital.

Posted by
4665 posts

It always amazes me how many Europeans know that Sacramento is the capital of California.

My eldest son could name all the US states by the age of 13 and quite a few state capitals and by that age had visited 12 different states. When he was younger he had a map of the US on his wall and I used to test him on his knowledge at bedtime. He also had a globe and we used to play identify the capital city so he's grown up being interested in travel and geography. Obviously not every kid in Europe has an extensive knowledge of geography but I suspect the knowledge of the US is significantly influenced by Film and TV.

Posted by
1348 posts

In my experience, nobody in Ontario says Ontario.

Next time I'm in Europe, if asked, I will say Ontario -- and report back.

Posted by
11 posts

Happy to say my family and I were mistaken for Germans while at a Paris cafe two months ago. I guess our disguises worked!

Posted by
2600 posts

On World Geography, I am honestly shocked by how lacking American education is on this, especially considering they are a world superpower! This one always gets me lol - Can You Name a Country? from Jimmy Kimmel

I guess it may not be a recent development though, as per my favourite American author Mark Twain...

"God created war so that Americans would learn geography"

from his humorous take on a travel guide Innocents Abroad (a must read)!

Posted by
1117 posts

It always amazes me how many Europeans know that Sacramento is the
capital of California.

Not sure how many Europeans know that Sacramento is the capital, but at least many know Sacramento, which is more than can be said about Calgary, I am afraid.

As far as Germans go, this may at least partly be due to a folk song which mentions Sacramento (or the Sacramento river).

Posted by
3659 posts

Calgary hosted an Olympic Games (1988?) and is the gateway to Banff which is an international tourist destination. There are flights from Europe and Japan nonstop to Calgary.

Posted by
1117 posts

So you are trying to convince us that all Europeans must know Calgary? :-)

Posted by
3659 posts

I think you should know Calgary. I comes up regularly in coverage of the energy industry also, in print news anyway.

Carlos: I doubt from experience that the average European knows North American geography as well as the other way round (despite the video), but no solid data. Europe does have a more helpful coastline I will admit.

Posted by
2600 posts

Carlos: I doubt from experience that the average European knows North American geography as well as the other way round (despite the video), but no solid data.

Here ya go lol!! European on US geo VS American on European geo - European DESTROYS American at Geography Video

It's all in good fun, not trying to make any serious arguments here 😄

Posted by
1117 posts

This seems to be turning into some kind of a contest now. It's not quite clear to me though if we are competing for the best or the worst knowledge of the other continent, respectively? ;-)

P.S. @Tom: I do know Calgary (in spite of the fact that I have never been to Banff, I never watch any Olympic Games, and I don't know the series "Fargo"). But I'll say quite honestly that I could not pinpoint it on a map. And I doubt that whatever I may know is representative of what the average European may know. Either way.

Posted by
3659 posts

Anna: That's a great trip for you: Victoria, Vancouver, BC national parks, Canadian Rockies, Drumheller, and Calgary. It will fill in a spot on the globe for you, and it is quite a nice trip.

The Fargo comment, while true, is just a joke, and a reference to the remarkably large Canadian filming locations industry.

Posted by
959 posts

I'm sure here in the US we could do the same type of list for "European" visitors. Ask anyone who lives in a destination state like California or Florida.
Reading the list it struck me more what I don't do then what I do but maybe that comes with more experience traveling.
I say I'm from the US not America. I was instructed by a friend from Winnipeg that although I live in USA not all of America is US so I went with it and now say I'm from the US.

Codfish .... LOL! I always tell my husband I want to look German when I travel with comfy shoes:)

Posted by
1102 posts

When I respond that I'm from New Orleans, the conversation almost always takes off dramatically. Everyone wants to go to New Orleans, has been to New Orleans, knows someone who's been to New Orleans, loves "jazz music," has heard about Mardi Gras, or (the one I really don't want to hear) asks if the city is getting better after the hurricane (Katrina was in 2005). I also have learned that when in Europe, generally folks will only recognize the name of my city if I pronounce it "New Ore LEENS" (which, as we all know, is the pronunciation only used by tourists and in music when the lyricist needs to rhyme.) If I say "New ORE lens" (as locals do, y'all), then I get a quizzical look. But overall, I've had some great conversations with local folks in a family trattoria in Rome, on a bus in Tuscany, and over crepes in Amsterdam (among other places). No matter where, my home city is always a conversation starter.

Posted by
1117 posts

I also have learned that when in Europe, generally folks will only
recognize the name of my city if I pronounce it "New Ore LEENS"
(which, as we all know, is the pronunciation only used by tourists and
in music when the lyricist needs to rhyme.) If I say "New ORE lens"
(as locals do, y'all), then I get a quizzical look.

Not since Katrina. Ever since the town has been in the news so much with that, it has been hammered into us that it's "New ORE lens". You won't find a news person who dares say "New Ore LEENS" on the radio or on TV.

I must admit that I have had my doubts about that. I listen to old (American) radio shows occasionally (old = waaay before Katrina), and they consistently pronounce it "New Ore LEENS". Maybe those are not locals speaking. But it shows that not only Europeans were more familiar with that pronunciation.

Posted by
5478 posts

I lived in Germany for four years, working for the US Army. This was back in the late 80's early 90's.

There were several things that you could tell Americans from other nationalities.

1) The shoes were always a way, German's those days didn't wear athletic shoes that much in public.
2) Haircuts, the style of the way hair was cut for men was very different for Germans than Americans.
3) These days, when traveling in other European countries, the differences are not as significant, but still there. Still, I remember running across a Ukrainian back in 2014 that was wearing a University of Georgia Bulldogs sweat shirt, not far different from mine. Our guide told us that used clothing was shipped to Ukraine and was popular because it was cheap.
4) Italians and Spanish tend to dress up more and with more stylish clothes.

Posted by
27722 posts

I haven't read all - sorry if its a dup.

I can tell Americans and non-Europeans by their glasses frames.

Or more specifically I can often tell continental Europeans by their glasses frames. and Americans by process of elimination when adding in the shorts, sneakers, money belt worn outside, and ball cap.

Posted by
3685 posts

Okay, Nigel, I'll bite.

I wear glasses all the time, with progressive, no-line bifocal, transitions lenses. My favorite frames are Ray-Bans. They're not the traditional Wayfarer shape. One pair is round black. One is octagonal tortoise shell. Both are plastic, not metal.

So what's different about American, Continental and non-European glasses frames, especially compared to what is worn elsewhere?

I've just been looking online at frames for the new glasses I'll get next month, so yours is a timely comment for me. Would I be obviously American in these or these or these? 🤔

Posted by
1117 posts

Fashions change quickly, so I am not up to date on the fashions for glasses on both sides of the Atlantic. But it's true, for a long time I could easily tell Europeans and Americans apart by their glasses, especially on women.

I myself got some new glasses once, moderately fashionable by European standards, with some color. On our next visit our US friends looked at me and said "That's quite a statement."

Some of my American friends still wear glasses like these to this day. When I see people wearing glasses like that, it's a pretty safe bet they're American tourists. But then, retro style glasses may be fashionable again, maybe I just haven't caught on...

Posted by
195 posts

My husband often (but not 24/7!) wears a ball cap with the mascot of his alma mater; no letters, just the embroidered mascot. It's often a conversation starter by fellow travelers and locals. He LOVES to talk to locals wherever we travel, and loves to learn a bit of the local language. We're guilty of wearing small daypacks - you're out all day, you need a secure place to stow your phone, passport, small purchases, bottle of water, an umbrella or rain jacket, scarf, TP/tissues, sanitizer etc. We are rarely around the corner from our accommodations and the daypack makes sense. So do comfortable walking shoes, but we do try to look "stylish" rather than "on a safari".

Posted by
1118 posts

I've noticed that wheneve I am in Europe and I overhear American travelers, they are often either talking about "In America..." or their flight experience. Strange, no? I don't like for some reason when people refer to the USA as "America"---feels so old timey. And last week as I was going into the Galeries Lafayette on the Champs-Elysees I overheard a couple pondering whether or not they celebrate Thanksgiving in Paris (not France, but Paris).