How Traveling Opens Your Eyes

Americans don’t travel.

OK, I know that’s a really broad statement but literally we have not met any other Americans who are traveling for as long as we are. We’ve met a few ex-Pats who live abroad but no one really backpacking. Maybe we just aren’t going to the spots that most Americans go. Either way, we haven’t met many at all.

Everyone we have met has been mostly Australian, British, Canadian.

I’m not sure if I’m naive or just people I’ve met are more honest than most, but I didn’t realize that the rest of the world really hates Americans.

I understand they hate our politics. I do, too. But me as a person? How can you hate me just because I’m from America? I don’t know Obama personally. I didn’t tell Bush to invade Afghanistan.

But everyone really dislikes Americans.

I had several serious conversations with people about this while on Hvar. A few Aussies told me that Americans don’t travel and are therefore very closed minded about the rest of the world. And I can understand that since we really haven’t met many Americans.

I consider myself well traveled. I’ve been to five of the seven continents. I’ve been to small villages, major cities, remote towns. But even I catch myself saying stupid American things around these Aussies, Brits and Canadians.

They also think we’re incredibly loud. Which of course we are. Even I can’t deny that. We were in Hvar during the 4th of July so of course the small amount of Americans who were on the island were celebrating. There were often random “U-S-A” chants heard and tons of American flags everywhere. One Brit told me he couldn’t stand this. He said it gave off the impression that we believe we are better than everybody else and can therefore invade anyone because no one else matters.

Obviously, I do not see it this way. I see it as we are proud of where we are and are a community of people celebrating that pride. But maybe I am completely naive to think this. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m supposed to think.

I made a passing comment in front of a Canadian that I burn easily in the sun because of my Irish skin. My family has a little bit of Irish in us so I have countless freckles, especially in the sun.

He went OFF on me. How dare I say I’m Irish. I’m not Irish, I’m American. I said I knew that but that obviously no one is truly American because we are a land of immigrants. He said this was a completely American way to think and that he finds it offensive that people say they are Italian, German, French, etc., when they are just American.

Traveling definitely opens your eyes. And I’ve had a lot of interesting, deep, meaningful conversations here on Hvar Island despite it being a “party island.” I’ve talked to Aussies about America’s gun laws. Brits about the problems with American journalism. Canadians about enjoying life to the fullest instead of complaining about every little thing like many Americans do. Every one has shown me a new way to think about the world. I only hope others back in the States will one day be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do the same.

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