Friday, May 6, 2011

Ignorant American



There's something I've been stewing over for the past several weeks, and I suppose I'd better just get it out there to hear what the rest of you think. People keep telling me to, essentially, "watch out" when I go to the UK because people over there will be expecting me to be an ignorant American. I've been advised from multiple friends that I should read up on our government, the UK government, the UK history, and various other histories and current events. Which, sure, I'm actually very interested in history and I'd like to be more in touch with what's happening in the world; but seriously, are people in the UK going to be just waiting for me to make some mistake and then jump on me for being an idiot American? Seriously?

I feel like this is a crazy myth we like to spread around in the States because it makes us feel like some kind of stupid-tumor on the Earth, and we really like hating on ourselves over here (or at least the liberals I know who were threatening to move to Canada when Bush was elected for a second term). It's silly, I think, because there are ignorant fatheads in every country, no matter where you go. Perhaps there's a higher density of them in the States, but we can't help it that we have a Bible Belt, guys (kidding! kidding... kinda).

Anyway I'm just curious if you awesome UK readers have ever come across Americans and quizzed them on like... current events and American history in order to gauge their intelligence. Somehow I doubt it (because who would actually do that outside of an epic douchebag?), and I think my friends are fearmongering, but you never know! I've only been a tourist in Germany and Italy, and they didn't speak English so if they were dissing me I couldn't have known.




I'm wearing: Target skirt and tights, F21 belt, H&M t-shirt and necklace.


Ugh what am I doing with my tummy in that photo, I don't know why I picked this picture last night. And now I feel obligated to post it because otherwise I'd only have three photos in this post. Ugh, blogworld problems!

This was yesterday's I'm-super-greasy-and-tired-and-can't-be-arsed outfit. Notice the pushed-aside bangs... they're staying there by the power of their own greasiness.

This weekend I have absolutely no plans whatsoever, and it makes me infinitely happy. I'm tired of going places and doing things all the time! Although I'm hoping I'll at least be able to fit in a shopping trip somewhere amidst all the vegetating. Somebody needs a spring jacket.

33 comments:

Loren said...

I think American tourists sometimes get a bad name because it is only stupid American tourists that get noticed. The good tourists just walk around and you know look at things...
I am from Kentucky which is almost worse because I'm pretty sure people think we are the dumbest state. (which might be true we have a Creationist MUSEUM like it is some kind of science...) Even when I travel to other parts of the country people ask things like 'Do you guys wear shoes?' The answer is of course 'Only when we have to.'

Kellie W. said...

Weirdly enough, one of my biggest fears about moving to England someday is that people will think I'm a stupid American. But at the same time, if someone is going to quiz me on my British intelligence, then they're obviously a massive asshole anyway. Though I would probably brush up on general British knowledge just to avoid awkwardness. I'm pretty sure my knowledge of British television qualifies me as at least 15% British, though, so I'm basically good to go.

April, Everyday Forgotten said...

Seriously? I've never heard of that before (I live in the UK) but then again, I live in a small town so I wouldnt know what it's like in London? But if I was in london and met an american, I definately wouldnt start questionning them on their intellegence and history haha - thats just strangeee! I think the majority of people would just wanna know what it is you're doing over here (didnt mean for that to sound rude in anyway haha!) out of curiosity! :) I know I would...

SomethingDutch said...

For me, it's the "tourist" mindset that really is a catalyst for those kinds of quizzes or makings for feeling of inferiority.

If you are a traveler and live in that mindset, you'll find more respect for yourself and from others. Also, in general, there are good people everywhere, and when I was in the UK nobody jumped on me for being from the States, or anywhere I've been, really.

Americans abroad and left-leaning tend to somewhat toe the line between self-loathing and being informed, critical individuals, don't you think?

Kerry said...

As much as I'm loathe to admit it, there is a little snobbishness towards Americans in some parts of the UK; however, it's mostly just good natured banter. The same can be said for us London folk in the USA though. When I first moved here, Americans asked me all kinds of strange questions. For example, was I English or British? Where did I learn to speak English ... (this after I had answered that I was from England). Did I meet the Queen on a regular basis in London? Did I take afternoon tea every day? There are tons of preconceptions either way. London is a very, very multicultural destination and we are so used to meeting people from other cultures, I'm almost certain you won't come across anything other than a little teasing or banter.

Amanda said...

I've never been to the UK, so I can't speak from any sort of experience. But I think there is an overall view in the world that Americans are arrogant. So I think anywhere you go, people will have at you a little bit because as humans, don't we all like to bring people we think are arrogant back down to Earth?

Lydia said...

Highly doubt anyone's going to quiz you on any of that shit. Sounds like hogwash to me. I say go and have a good time, and bullocks to the rest!

The Daily Fashionista said...

I met some couchsurfers who were from Manchester a couple of months ago who were doing a US roadtrip for the fun of it. We had a lot of fun just chit chatting about the differences in culture. They found is hilarious that my husband keeps his job for the health benefits!!! There was this one asshole who was making fun of their accent and asked if they would go out and smoke a fag with him. He was a douche, and a typical idiot american...lol.

I think you'll be fine. You're well versed in the internets so I can't imagine you'd be any different in real life. You'll be witty, fun and charismatic!

Rose said...

Oh, no worries, you'll be fine! I mean, you're basically socially literate, right? And...well, you're from Portland, so already that makes you 1/8th British. The thing is, all those stupid Americans that go abroad and attract negative attention with their lack of social and political and self awareness are the same stupid Americans that make us roll our eyes in our hometown.

M & Em said...

I'm sure you'll be fine. :) I love your blog name by the way! You look adorable.

xoxo
Em

Midwest Mayhem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Midwest Mayhem said...

I've only been in the airport in London, so I can't speak for England personally, but I have studied and traveled abroad and lived in a hippie commune with many foreign exchange students...and I've never been "quized" or accused of being an ignorant American.

One thing I noticed when traveling through Europe is simply how far away we are from so much of the world. Traveling through Europe is like traveling through the states here, so they have a better understanding of what is going on in their neighboring countries. I feel that foreigners are quicker to bring up topics of politics, art, and philosophy whereas when most Americans meet people they usually stick to TV shows and sports.

From reading your blog I can see that you're a smart lady and I don't thing you'll have any problem, especially with being so enthusiastic about the country you'll be moving to!

Every country has ignorant people, I think we just throw the term around more for whatever reason.

Rai said...

Whaaat? I live in Wales and there's a fair few American and Canadian students on campus and about, but no-one thinks they're stupid! I think it's the minority saying that :p

Sophie said...

I live in a communter town about 25mins away from central London so I am always popping into the big city :) I have never heard anyone ask an American about our history, why would that even come up? I think your friends are just playing with you. You will not be quizzed on England. London is so multi-cultural, honestly you can sit on the tube and not hear one English accent. Thats why it's such a great place.
You may however endure a little light banter. People are always taking the micky out of everyone about where they come from. It happens in the UK too, I get teased about being a "Essex girl". The county has a huge stereotype, people expect me to be blonde, wear white shoes and a mini skirt and have too much fake tan on! Its all light hearted fun, don't take it too seriously. No malice is meant by it :)
Have fun in London, its honestly the best city on earth ;)
Sophie
x

Shibby said...

Please don't worry about this! As a English girl I know what you're saying but like others have said it's only if you're actually an idiot that we wont like you. But you love our culture and you're awesome so you have nothing to worry about! :) Like Sophie said as long as you can take the banter I wouldn't worry. I'm a northerner and so by default I hate southerners but only in general terms ha! :)

When you come to England we have to meet up! :)

aki! said...

I love you. ...I mean. I've been following your blog for a while and it's pretty cool.

But seriously. You seem like one of the few fashion/beauty bloggers who are into the same type of nerdy things I am. Namely, Sherlock. To top it all off, I love your sense of fashion and your hair. So basically, you're cool.

I understand how awkward this may be for you to read so I'll end on a relevant note. I love England, I think it's a really really neat place. I hung out with some friends there and I hit all the tourist sites. There was only lighthearted making fun of Americans (the US v. UK football game was on). On the other hand, some classmates I was traveling with felt necessary to imitate English accents on a constant basis. Talk about rude! I think you'll be absolutely fine.

Have fun!

seven-percentsolution.blogspot.com

I promise I'm not as creepy as I came off. Maybe just tired right now.

juliamarisa said...

I'm an american living in the UK right now, and as long as you aren't sarah palin you'll pretty much be ok. People tried to warn me about the food here before I came but that was total bullshit because they have way more organic, local, freerange, fairtrade awesomeness here than the US could dream of. Anyway, my point is: what the hell do americans know about life in England?

I don't think people here are any more informed than most americans (excluding those who watch fox news of course). No one will give you shit. Basically I just get corrected whenever I talk about soccer instead of football and get laughed at when I talk about my pants when I mean trousers because pants are underwear here.

I will say though that I didn't exactly pipe up when I didn't know who David Cameron or Margaret Thatcher was. But, like, you've got a TARDIS tattoo, so you're basically already one of the family.

Chez said...

You'll be absolutely fine, there are so many students from other countries around. We don't expect you to know our history, or yours, or whatever. Though, when I lived in Canada I had all of the bullshit of people assuming that I was stuck up just because i'm English (actually i'm mostly Welsh...) and that obviously because I lived in England I lived in London. The only city in the UK obviously... But it must just be the differences in culture despite our similarity in language.
Nonetheless, you will have the time of your life and people from here will be pretty stoked that people from different parts of the world would like to study here. And i'm very excited to have you in the country!

Michal said...

Yeah I've always been told that too, but in the three times I've been to the UK, Brits have been nothing but super nice to me! I'm sure if you ARE an loud, obnoxious, ignorant American, they will treat you as such (anyone would), but since you're not- no worries. I did hang out with two Brits at the airport who kept on comparing England to the USA and telling me how much better the UK was, but it was all in fun and really hilarious. (:

I like this outfit. I love how you got that skirt and Target and I probably paid like 3x as much for the same thing at dumb AA. GRRRRRR

the fashion reckless said...

love it!
thefashionreckless.blogspot.com

JennaStevie said...

If you're polite they will have no problem with you. It is a big stereotype and obviously isn't true for everyone! Travelling I've met very smart people and some pretty ignorant people; going to montana which is so close to the canadian border and them asking us seriously if we live in igloos! Ahh! But theres dumb people in EVERY country
For being such a greasy lazy day you look good! I love that skirt, it looks so pretty and comfy.
xJennaD

Poppy. said...

There are some people who think that if you go to a country you need to know everything about it. They're just silly.
Though I've met some American tourists who have come over here(Ireland) and asked something ridiculous like 'So have you ever caught a real leprechaun?'...and they were serious. But they're the small exception that you're friends are making sure you steer clear of becoming. =]

CaramelLatteKiss said...

American tourists can get a bad rap over here, but noone's going to surprise quiz you. That would be mental.
I think it's the stupid people that we Brits notice, like people who think London is about the only place in Britain and expect us all to either be posh or cockney and do nothing but drink tea and eat crumpets. Basically, Brits are just people, so you'll be fine!
One tip though...Wales and Scotland are NOT in England. Americans (and other tourists) can be baffled by the distinction, but it's a quick way to really piss off any Welsh/Scots you meet.
And hey, British people are stupid about other countries too. I have a friend who lived in South Africa as a child and she gets asked if she rode giraffes and if there were lions wondering around in the town and such things.

Shenanigans said...

My husband has been there and some of them are stuck up but you just have to be smart, don't ask stupid questions, and really just be "proud to be an american" lol, hard to do I know.

chocolateteacup said...

YOU'VE GOT A TARIDS ON YOUR ARM!!!!!!!! WHOOP!

Sorry, I never do that thing where you post all in capslock but that warrented it. I knew you were 'one of us' from your blog title but that tattoo is amazing :) Such a shame I'm too scared to have a tattoo.

Hani_Allan said...

You'll be fine you seem a nice, cool girl people will see that more than your accent. My sister in law is American and she had no problems making friends. You are more likely to be made fun of for your love of Doctor who. Its not that cool over here. Who knows why. Best show ever.

Amie said...

Honestly, English people can look like tourists in England, I do EVERY time i go to London, also, there aren't people hiding round corners ready to do surprise surveys about current affairs, honestly :)
Also, some people in England have very limited knowledge of current affairs, people wont judge you because of your knowledge, but your personality, so don't worry about it :)
P.S. your blog is awesome

She is Sara said...

Meg! haha, I feel like I start every comment I leave you with that, Meg! :P

It's awesome that we have a blogging community where we can get some real honest answers out there. I hope you share the feedback because I have always wanted to know if these rumors were true! But also, you have a lot on your plate so don't stress too much, worry about the awesome possum spring jacket.

I love this outfit so much, something I would wear because I have those items :P PS I adore that tattoo! I want mine now dammit!

Kallie, Happy Honey and Lark said...

I have a friend who went to Oxford for a few months for school, apparently its not so much that they think you're an ignorant American, but that they have an entirely different style of writing research papers and things of that nature. I have another friend who absolutely loved it and did very well though.
PS--I'm looking into going there for grad school too :)

SaraMarie said...

Hey,

I studied in London for a semester and I only had a person say something to me about being American once, and it was some crazy old man in a grocery store and the cashier promptly apologized to me because he was such a douche. So I really wouldn't worry about it, everybody is secretly fascinated by Americans :)

carolina said...

love the top. <3

CAITLIN said...

i think that the brit culture is just generally more inclined to teasing. they make fun of each other and themselves all the time, so why wouldn't they make fun of you as well? at least, that's the impression that i get.

also, can you blame them? i think that american tourists get a bad rap because, a lot of the time, they deserve it. it's like loren said, the good travelers just walk around and look at things and don't act obnoxious and entitled. but there are plenty of middle-aged midwestern americans walking around with their fanny packs and flag-print sweatsuits telling everyone they meet that they are americans and this is all so fooooooooooooreign to them. personally, i get annoyed with american tourists IN AMERICA. so i can understand it.

since you're not like that (obvs), you'll be fine. :)

Jenni Austria Germany said...

oh, girl. i have so much to say on this post. i am an english teacher in germany and, well, let's just say that there are a lot of people who hate us (americans). i've been put in uncomfortable positions time after time after time...not necessarily "recite the declaration of independence...oh you don't know it? you're dumb." or even "name all 16 german states...you didn't learn that at your american university? ha ha ha...ha ha ha.." but rather, "why is everyone from you country so fat? why does everyone from your country love guns so much? why do people in your country ONLY speak english?". truth be told, people love to hate americans. and yes, some of us make it all too easy, but it's very frustrating and i'm all too often the butt of the joke. that doens't mean that i don't love europe, though. i just try to answer their questions and represent my country as best as i can. it's not so bad. :)