10 Ways to Spot an American Abroad

Friday, 11 May 2018
When thinking of the United States, what images emerge? Do you hold any preconceived notions about people from the US? Are they positive, negative, a bit of both? Now, remember a time you saw an American travelling overseas. Where these stereotypes reinforced or challenged? 

Throughout my time in Australia, I have received somewhat contradictory responses when anyone finds out I'm from the US. Many are afraid to outright as if I am American. Frequently, Australians will hear the accent and ask if you're Canadian. This is because  Canadians lose their shit if they're referred to as Americans, or so I've been told (I get it, dude. I've seen Justin Trudeau). And since we all know how much I love taking the piss out of myself and my home country, I thought I would make it a little easier for everyone by detailing ways to spot an American travelling abroad.

1. Baseball Hat

Ok so this one isn't as common as when I first moved to Melbourne, but it still is a fairly accurate indicator that a person is from the US. We love our sports teams, uni teams, and a good ol' snap back. 

Bonus points if your baseball cap has sparkles

If you see a person walking around in a baseball cap, make a comment about the team. If you get a response (specific to that team), they're American. 

2. Walking While Eating

American's are notorious for constantly being in a rush. There aren't enough hours in the day because we're all trying to be superheroes being the perfect spouse, employee, and friend all whilst eating correctly, working out on the reg, travelling the world, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. It's no wonder that we're shooed out of restaurants the second our meals are finished so the next person can sit down. This often leads to eating on the go or in our cars. 

The trend of eating on the go doesn't seem to stop while on holiday. Many American's are perplexed when waiters do not immediately drop the check the second they've finished their meal, or by the confused looks they're given when they order their coffee and pastries to go. There's so much to see and so little time! Why would one waste it relaxing while eating?! I am still guilty of eating in my car or while walking down the street. Old habits die hard, and I'm a busy girl. 

3. Activewear or Oversized Jumpers

Step out into Melbourne's CBD, and you'll find dapper businessmen and gorgeously dressed businesswomen frantically running around the streets. You'll discover uni students in stylish clothing with their backpack full of study materials either walking to campus or the state library. And then you'll find the tourists rocking an oversized jumper (generally with a sport or uni team) and activewear. These tourists usually are American.  

Honestly, I'm not sure how the rest of the world doesn't consistently live in activewear. Putting on pants every morning is a friggin commitment, and lord knows I love being comfortable and capable of escaping danger at any moment. Did I honestly believe I would workout whilst on holiday? Please. But who wants to wear jeans when you can look fabulous in your activewear. 

The Real Dog Mum's of Melbourne

4. Applauding Basically Anything

Have you ever been on an airplane where people begin clapping when the pilot lands the plane? How much you wanna bet the person who started this was American? My mother is a notorious clapper. Someone gets her order right, applause. A person spelt her name correctly, roaring clap (this is actually a challenging thing). DJ played her favourite song, applause followed by wooing and dancing. 

Long story short, Americans are happy, and they know it... so they clap their hand *clap* *clap*

5. Not Knowing a Foreign Language

I'm ashamed to admit, I have been guilty of this while travelling abroad. It made travelling in Vietnam and Cambodia a little more challenging. Yes, most people I met did speak some English, but really, I could have learned a few basic phrases to make things a little smoother. 

In Vietnam, I frequently encountered fellow Americans becoming increasingly frustrated because they were unable to communicate with the locals. Like to the point that they were getting pissed off that the locals didn't speak English. Sadly, Vietnam was not the only country I've witnessed this. We're really dang good at making sure everyone in our country speaks English. Apparently, these standards do not decrease whilst travelling. 

6. Not Knowing the Metric System

If someone approaches you and says, "Can you tell me how many feet to the train station?", You're speaking to an American. We, as Americans, like to be different from the rest of the world. We're the only country to put a man on the moon. We have the most nuclear weapons. Naturally, we would have our own units of measurements (that we stole from the Brits and a Dutch-German-Polish scientist). 

Since moving to Australia, I've fully embraced the metric system. It's simple, easily divisible, and is easy to convert. It secretly brings me joy when Americans ask me for directions, and I tell them in the metric system. It tickles my insides. 

7. Loudness

Whether its due to our excessively massive personal space bubbles, noise levels in many of our settings, or our obsessive love of sports teams, we Americans have developed the stereotype of being extremely loud. It may just be that we have a problem controlling THE VOLUME OF OUR VOICE. 

Not sure if we're American or Canadian? Don't worry mate, we'll tell ya (see #10). 

8. Professional or College Team Apparel 

Just like our activewear, we love reppin' our favourite profession or college team. We proudly wear them where ever we go. I take my Datsyuk Red Wings jersey on every trip I take. We're loud. We're proud. And you best better not root for our team's rivals. 

9. The Accent
I'm pretty sure this one is a given especially if the American is from the South. American's have a really distinct accent. I'm not sure why everyone confuses our accent with Canadians. I guess it's like Americans confusing New Zealander's accents as Australian. They're similar but not quite right. 

10. We're Basically Vegans or Crossfitters

Just like the vegans and the crossfitters, you don't have to ask if a person is American, they'll bloody tell ya. When in doubt simply yell, "America". If the response you get is "f*ck yea!", you're in the presence of an American. 

Obviously, this is not indicative of all Americans. But it's always entertaining to poke fun at yourself. If you're from the US and have travelled, did you fall into any of these stereotypes? If you've seen an American abroad, what was your experience? 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

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  1. haha i love this and these points are so true ;) love traveling and having that 'accent' ha!

    1. I still get taken aback when people tell me that I have an accent. I always forget!

  2. As someone from the U.K., I loved reading this! I can definitely agree with a few of them, especially the baseball hats and oversized jumpers.

    Loved this - like you say, it's good to poke fun at yourself sometimes.

    Ruth | www.ruthinrevolt.com

  3. Haha, we all have our quirks in every culture!

    1. Absolutely! Now that I've lived in Australia for a while I've been chalking up writing one on Aussies.

  4. Yes for your love of the Red Wings!

    1. Heck yes!! Always love 'meeting' another Wings fan!

  5. omg, all of these are actually SPOT ON hahahahaha i can't, these are so great that i can't even choose one that is "more" correct xD although the metric system is slightly high up there in my rank ;) (as someone who grew up in australia, thus prefer the metric system even as i live in america haha)

    1. If I ever move back to America it will be so hard for me to give up the metric system. I LOVE how simple it is to use!

  6. HAHA! These are great! Not just being in the US brings quirks, but each state in the US has their own weird quirk too!

    1. Yes they absolutely do! I could write a whole post on state to state quirks.

  7. This cracked me up - I am American and this is pretty typical of us when we travel.

  8. I personally associate plane clapping with Romania/Moldova and Italy more than anywhere else, but I think that almost every country thinks that they do it. Once in Poland I told some Polish guys that Italians love doing it, and they were like, oh yes Poles do it too. One thing that I know for sure is that Brits don't :) I've never come across an American doing it. But, you would know that better than me.