The Karen Files

Americans Abroad…

It has been just over two weeks since I arrived in Australia. I have made friends with people of so many different nationalities – Swedish, Dutch, French, German, quite a few Canadians, and people from many different Asian countries.

In talking to all of these people I have realized now more than ever what a bad name America and Americans have in most other countries. Everyone that I’ve met has told me that America is pretty much a big joke in their respective country. Or, if not a joke, we’re thought of as bullies, egocentric, or just not-too-bright when it comes to world news. One Canadian girl told me that in Canada they have a television show where the host will go up to random Americans on the street and ask them questions which they should know, but the vast majority of the Americans asked do not know the correct answer. The show had a real ”are you smarter than an American” feel to it.

I also hear that many Americans who travel abroad will tell the people they meet that they are actually from Canada, and they’ll wear a Canadian flag on their backpack so people don’t assume that they’re American and harass them. I personally think that is silly, and I wouldn’t do it – I’m not going to lie about where I’m from. I haven’t really had anyone bother me for being American, but they have looked at me with pity or remarked with a hint of disgust “Oh, you’re from America huh?”

So I can’t help asking, why is this the case? Why do Americans have such a bad name outside of America? Ok, we definitely do like to throw our weight around in the world, and many Americans don’t know as much about what’s going on in the world as they do about whom Jennifer Aniston currently is dating. In fact, even though I try to stay pretty informed with world politics, I still don’t seem to know as much as the people here do.

I am proud to be an American, but I feel like we need to work on our image in the world. I don’t think Americans who travel abroad should have to feel ashamed to tell people that they are from America. Maybe what we really need are for more Americans to travel abroad – to help give our country a better name. I have still only met one American since I’ve arrived here… Unless all the Canadians I’ve met are lying.



  1. I think you are right, Kaz. (:-)) I think that it is because our politicans do push their weight around too much trying to prove we are a “super” power. And, sorry to say, but our schools just are not on par with most other schools in the world. Our students (not all) just don’t want to learn. All they care about is “partying.” I think we have come to a sad, sad, state. Where once we were looked up to, now we are made fun of.

    But, it’s good to see that you are still having a good time and becoming more ‘wordly.’ At least you can give us (US) a better impression.

  2. It’s all Morrissey’s fault. Writing that “America Is Not the World” song from his comeback album “You Are the Quarry”. Not a nice song about Americans. He does have that lyric:

    “But where the president is never black, female, or gay… and until that day… you’ve got nothing to say to me to help me believe.”

    …which actually might be dated soon.

    But seriously, in regards to what your mom wrote above – many years ago I migrated from a 3rd world country to the USA when I was 12 years old. And the thing that struck me the most was the educational system and the way the kids treated their teachers and elders; and the way it seemed that my fellow American students took education for granted. Where I came from we were lucky to be educated in things like Math and Science. Definitely a different vibe when I migrated here.

  3. To start with, it’s about darn time you guys down under apologized to the Aborigines. Now how about some reparations. Just kidding (I guess).
    You’re certainly right about Americans being looked down upon in the world today. I think some of it is because we are “haves” and some others are “have nots”. A bit of jealousy I would say. But also there is the resentment of us (at least some of us) seeing ourselves as the world’s police officers. I can understand they’re problem with that. It could be worse though. We could be French and just put our heads in the sand. Just kidding again (I guess).
    Anyway, I’m proud of you that you’re not afraid to wear your origins out on your sleeve.

    P.S. Great pictures

  4. hahahaha!! i’m laughing at dad’s comment, LOL. ill write more later, i’m sick as hell, and hurting, so i cant’ think straight

  5. Come on…partying is MUCH better than learning! :-P

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