WEB EXCLUSIVE! Be aware of your actions while abroad

by Kate Anderson

The war is still on and so are May Term trips. A word of advice to the brave, jet-setting students-pose as Canadians.

No one has a significant political problem with Canada except American resentment for their lack of support in this war, so you should be okay. A lot better than you would be admitting to your American status. Just make sure you actually do a little homework on a Canadian province so you don’t look like a liar and a moron.

Safety is a serious issue right now for international travel. Sentiments are through the roof and not everyone is acting with understanding and sympathy. There are many countries that are outraged by Americans. Maybe you don’t have to hide your identity and pose as a citizen of Montreal, but be humble as an American. For your bodily safety, try not to engage in conversations about the war, especially in “social” situations.

Although safety is the most current issue for international travel, tourist behavior has always been a complaint.

If you are going to introduce yourself as an American there are some things to keep in mind. I studied at an international school in London last spring and I was continually amazed by the arrogance American students displayed there. Not once, but three times I saw drunk Americans bellowing “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen in front of my building. It was so funny… to them. I might add that we lived next to the French Ambassador who constantly had to endure our arrogance. Many of us became sympathetic of resentment towards foolish Americans.

In pubs, I saw Americans ask the bartender to switch soccer (a sport that reigns with passion and patriotism) to “Friends.” The bartender looked as though his whole being was crumbling and after a pause he told them to leave. I also had to leave because unfortunately I was with them. That was five dollars on a fresh beer down the drain. With it went my pride as an American.

When May Term came around I spotted some of the Simpson students walking around my neighborhood in London. Yes, there were some that were wearing Simpson wrestling and football shirts, which is another “no” for tourism. Now there’s nothing wrong with patriotism and school spirit. It’s encouraging to walk around campus and see people who are proud of our school and sports teams. Please, for your sake don’t run around another country sporting your local sources of pride. It is offensive to the culture you’re visiting. Although you want to be there and become exposed to their culture, keep in mind that they are still at home in theirs. If they want to observe Americans they will buy a plane ticket to come see us.

Remember that people actually live locally in these cultures and it’s irritating when they are stopped every five minutes and asked to take pictures of Americans humping historical statues, or asked for directions to McDonald’s.

Travel is a free right to all but remember that wherever you go there are courtesies that are expected to be followed. People will make an impression on our nation by your actions. American tourists are often thought to be very abrupt and thoughtless about our presence in other countries. On a May Term trip, try to set the example for protocol in your group. You are a large foreign mass of people-make a good impression. It’s your chance to make or break.

Wherever you go for May Term or summer vacation, have an amazing time. International travel is rewarding for a lifetime, but please keep in mind the responsibilities you have as an American abroad. We have enough enemies right now, let’s not help that trend.