Friday, January 04, 2008

International image

That last post was from Beth. She just got back from Spain. Dave is now in Italy. The dollar is so weak that essentials cost more than you want to know. I have not traveled to Europe for nearly thirty years. The response to us has obviously changed. There are guidelines for travelers to not "look American". It looks like this view of Americans has really shifted in the last ten years.

At least they are still addicted to our music. But they are producing their own music more and more. It is more fun to make and produce music than to "import" it.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

What does it take to be American?

Traveling abroad is the best way to confirm your sense of self and heritage. Home becomes a powerful concept when you are 9 hours ahead and eating nothing but Iberian Ham morning, noon and night (Yes, its novelty wore off after the second breakfast).

The unnerving part for me was everyone’s ability to peg me as “American” on first glance. Granted I am 5’11, fair skinned with light brown hair and blue eyes, but still. Couldn’t I be German? Austrian? Scandinavian? English? Australian? Heck, even if they heard me speak couldn’t I be mistaken for Canadian?

No. Apparently not.


So what is it about me that makes me so identifiably American. I wasn’t wearing white tennis shoes, my wool coat was conservatively fashionable, I am relatively fit and thin, and I wasn’t draped in red, white and blue. What was it? My un-dyed hair? My lack of multiple facial piercings (I do have my nose pierced)? My posture? My facial expressions? My non-descript suitcase? What? What?!?

I guess I am just not Euro-Chic enough.

And, the reaction was always the same, a mixture of apathy regarding our presence and a sort of “I figured as much” kind of look. We had to acknowledge the fact that being two twenty something, American girls was going to get us nowhere. Being American was going to get us less than nowhere. Face it. The American dream and the American dollar just aren’t what they used to be in Europe.

Sing with me: Oh Ca-na-da!