An ugly American abroad?

While looking around various travel blogs last week I came across a post on the Huffington Post titled, "7 Signs You're an Ugly American". Naturally, I had to click. Some points I understand or even agree with, others baffle me a bit.  

The 'Ugly American' stereotype, for those unaware, refers to the terrible attitude of all Americans abroad. Ethnocentrism being one of the most prominent. The general idea is that the "Ugly American" seems to expect the country they visit to be the same as the USA or accommodate their home lifestyle.
According to the article the 7 signs are:
  1. Attire
  2. English only
  3. Complaining about portions
  4. Demanding to know the price in dollars
  5. Excessive patriotism
  6. Trying to recreate America abroad
  7. Over packing
I'm only going to touch on a couple of them for today.

The wardrobe staples of the 'Ugly American'

Personally, I do not dress in "white sneakers, a fanny pack ... and a Canadian flag patch sewn onto your backpack." The fake-Canadian claim is new to me, do people really do this? I am Canadian, so I'm not sure... In fact, most Americans I see while traveling no longer seem to meet the attire criteria. This point seems a bit out of date, or perhaps applies to older travelers.

English only

Here is an interesting one. I think it is nice to learn phrases in the language, but I wouldn't say everyone will be thrilled by your effort. I would say opinion on this matter depends partially on where you go.
For example, on separate instances, my friends and I have been to France:

Situation 1: My friends do know several French phrases  and studied French in school. They spoke French whilst there. They came back and were left with the impression that French people are rude. I've heard this from other people I know that traveled there and tried to speak French.

Situation 2: My brother and I went, do not speak French. We used English and felt the complete opposite. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. I've heard the same from others that behaved as we did. I was not rude about the fact that I could only communicate in English. I didn't expect everyone to be able to speak English either. However, we were able to work it out so that even when speaking with a person who spoke very little English we were able to understand each other. Be polite, that's the biggest thing and don't get frustrated. Thank the person even if you get no where in understanding each other.

In terms of studying abroad, I really do want to be fluent in Korean. So, I will be trying to speak in Korean as much as possible.

Trying to recreate America abroad

This could be the biggest offense and the heart of the stereotype. Flexibility and traveling abroad go hand-in-hand for me. Part of what excites me about going somewhere new is not just learning about, but experiencing the culture. I genuinely want to know what it would be like if I lived there. You miss so much if you try to stick to your usual routines.

The number one question I hear the most since announcing I would be studying abroad in Seoul next semester is without a doubt, "what will you eat in South Korea?" Let me think... Korean food? Food is part of the culture and I want to try it!

I will be doing a couple of posts with packing tips, one for shorter vacations and one for longer stays (like studying abroad). Also there will be one on fashion for both the airport/flight. 

After reading the post on the Huffington Post do you find yourself unknowingly guilty of any Ugly American signs?


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