5 Things People Assume About Americans Living Abroad

1. You Don’t Speak A Word Of The Language

I think the general consensus is that Americans speak two languages: English, and Screamed English. We essentially walk into any local establishment, disregard any customs or basic human decency, and start screaming at people to get you burgers and Coke. The only time we ever speak a word of the native language — or even attempt to — is in a hilarious, farcical parody of common phrases. We might yell a heavily-accented “DOMO ARIGATO HAHAHAHAHA” at a man in the subway in Tokyo, but of course, they would know we were not being serious and therefore not judge us on our deaf ear for language. We would remain the charming, bawdy American who is just so lovable in his complete ignorance. In fact, when Americans move abroad, they do it with the intention of avoiding all potential learning by osmosis of a new language. Any time someone starts to speak to you in the native tongue, we plug our ears and start singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic until they stop. America.

2. You’re a pampered trust-fund kid.

Essentially, every American to ever step foot on foreign soil only does so with a gold AmEx in their back pocket that they throw at the vendors while making them dance for their amusement. You see, to actually come over and do anything resembling work or any kind of integration into society would be an affront to both our collective manifest destiny and our pampered disdain for manual labor. The idea is that we’re all essentially Gatsby-era playboy WASPs who have grown weary of the party scene back in the States, and now just want to carry out our Roman orgy-esque social life in a land that’s both “exotic” and offers a slightly different wine list. We’re just flouting through for a few months, spending limitless money and drinking ourselves into an imperialistic stupor at the neighborhood pub, only occasionally stopping to call our parents and have our checking accounts re-filled.

3. You are essentially a tourist on extended stay.

As an American, it is your job to remain in a state of perpetual, be-fanny packed bewilderment. We walk the streets with our necks craned up, looking at something that can’t quite be identified but which makes us walk extraordinarily slowly. If we live in Paris, we spend most of our time languishing at Shakespeare and Co between trips to the Eiffel Tower; if we’re in London, we ride around on double-decker buses with Kate&William t-shirts, taking pictures in front of Big Ben; if we’re in Tokyo, we walk in circles around Harajuku looking for hilariously-dressed young women to photograph. As Americans, we are incapable of learning anything about another culture that isn’t perfectly superficial and in no way interferes with our deep-seated American elitism. We’d fall on a sword before we learned about the local parliamentary structure.

4. You are just there to sleep with sexy locals.

Apparently, inside every unassuming American lurks the passionate, red-hot heart of a complete skeezball who just wants to traipse around his/her new environment like a scantily-clad fly strip and pick up everything within a 10-mile radius who has a hint of an accent when speaking English. We are just here to sleep with everyone, and everything, and our only motivation for starting a new life in a new country amongst a new people was the vast opportunity for intercultural boning that was just eluding us back in our old neighborhood haunts. Our goal all night, every night, is to go to a bar — and which one really doesn’t matter — to find a partner both sufficiently drunk and attractive to be our partner for the night. We take them home, give them a healthy dose of free-range American genitals, and then put them back out onto the street at the first sight of day, only to start the process over that following evening. We also never wear condoms, because as we all know, Obama’s foreign policy protects us from both unwanted pregnancy and STDs.

5. You think that “this doesn’t count.”

The most important part of an American’s life abroad, according to society, is this idea that whatever you do during this time — remain drunk for months on end, father several bastard children, develop a crippling heroin addiction, go bankrupt — magically doesn’t count when you inevitably return back to the States. This is a part of your life that is just erased forever, and you hold absolutely no emotional or personal ties to the area. As soon as you’re gone, it’s like “Foreign You” never existed, and you just start all over again once you get back to your “real” life on American soil. We’re all just floating around, looking for a good time, going on a booze cruise through a foreign territory that lasts as long as you desire. I highly recommend it, we could all use a couple years’ vacation, couldn’t we? Thought Catalog Logo Mark


image – Ng Matthew

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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