I never used to buy into the idea that American travelers were rude and obnoxious until I moved to another country for an extended period of time.
And then I realized something.
It's not that Americans are bad people, per se. But we are an "in your face" people. We are loud, we are obnoxious, and by global standards, we are rude.
It's just who we are as a people. We are louder and ruder than most. Sure, individual Americans can be quiet and/or polite (though not this individual American), but as a society, we are bred to be demanding and loud. Whereas the Brits are just ridiculously polite, as a people.
The great thing about living abroad, is that you are really able to learn about another culture in a way that you cannot begin to process in a couple of weeks.
And one of the things that I have learnt, living in Britain, is that life is pretty nice when everyone assumes a base level of politeness.
People actually SMILE at each other on the street here. In LONDON. (In the North, they carry your suitcase up a flight of stairs, and call you 'love.') And if you dawdle on the street, you're not going to get people angrily pushing past you the way you would in New York. If two people get to a seat at a crowded bar at the same time, they will both deferentially apologize and then you'll have two minutes of awkwardness as each insists the other take the chair.
Now maybe on the inside, the Brits are angry, angry people, and are just waiting to explode ... but I don't really think so. Instead, I find that my blood pressure rarely rises as high from every day aggravations.
And it makes me realize, that simple things like smiling, can really make a difference. It seems silly, doesn't it, to think that we can change the world, one smile at a time, but ... it couldn't hurt, could it?
5 weeks ago