It may have been the blonde hair, fair skin, straight teeth, flip flops or my selfie stick, but somehow I have “I’m an American” painted across my forehead. I have learned in the short amount of time spent in London thus far that Americans are very easily spotted here, maybe because of a mild tourist distaste or because they just do not fancy Americans in general? Nonetheless, trying to disguise where you are from is a difficult task.
What makes you an American in the typical Londoner’s eye? For starters, the classic “dontchaknow” Minnesota accent is a dead give away. Even if you begin to fake a British accent, the Midwestern American language will always show through (believe me I’ve tried… and failed). We were walking through the crowded, constantly moving streets of Piccadilly- the Times Square of London- and above the noise we hear a group of about ten people shouting down from a 3 story building “Welcome to Britain!!” followed by heaps of laughter. Despite the mild embarrassment we couldn’t help but to laugh along with them because of how blatantly obvious it was to everyone that we are from America. Even without them hearing our accents, the giant, flashing “AMERICAN” sign above our heads follows us everywhere. It’s not only the young Europeans who pick up on this, but the elderly do as well. One of our voluntary tour guides at Westminster Abbey saw our group and said, “You all must be from America… very healthy and fit looking”. What a complimentary stereotype!
The main reason others notice this so easily is because we don’t catch up on their cultural customs right away… like saying hello for example. It’s not just a simple handshake and smile. I met an Australian and he asked for my name so I replied “Becca” and held out my hand for a handshake but then he leaned closer… I figured he didn’t hear what I said so I repeated my name and he started laughing. At this point I was very confused, maybe he was just a jerk laughing at my name? Nope. He was expecting a kiss on the cheek, their type of hello. My face flooded with heat from the slight humiliation followed with a sheepish “Oh… sorry I’m from America.”
Is the reason they may not be so fond of us because we are Americans or typical tourists? It’s pretty comical how many people carry around selfie sticks to these tourist attractions. At Warwick castle I spotted six selfie sticks. Yes, I repeat six of them and I was the seventh. It’s becoming a trend apparently. Even at the house where Shakespeare grew up in Stratford upon Avon there was a sign of three circles with X’s in the middle of them, all meaning no photography. The disturbing part was that the first picture was a standard hand held camera, the second was a picture of an iPhone, and the third was a picture of a selfie stick. I laughed to myself and thought, “What has our generation come to?” Bloody Americans.