Top 5 Reasons I’m Proud to Be an American

July 7, 2011

I’ll admit I haven’t always been the best American.

On my first trip abroad, to London, I spurned t-shirts and shorts in favor of skirts and scarves in an attempt to look British. I started saying “biscuits” instead of “cookies” and “trousers” instead of “pants” and “dodgy” instead of, umm, whatever it is that dodgy stands for. I was pleased when customers at the pub I worked at would tell me they thought I was English… you know, until I opened my mouth and started mutilating their language with my Western New York accent.

It’s not that I didn’t love my country.

It’s just that, well, being an American wasn’t exactly the coolest.

I was like the teenager who loves her parents, but would really rather they wait at the curb to pick her up from the party at the popular kid’s house. You know, because the minivan kind of smells like goats. (This is just an analogy, mind you, not a true story taken from my adolescence. Okay, so maybe my parents’ minivan did smell of goats, but, I assure you, I never got invited to any parties at the popular kid’s house.)

The older I’ve gotten and the more countries I’ve visited, the more I’ve come to appreciate my American roots — just as the teenager who gets older and learns to appreciate her parents (if not the minivan… or the goats).

I’m still not the best American.

There are lots of famous places in the States I have yet to visit – I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore or any of the largest balls of twine. Despite having lived in Washington, DC for two years, my knowledge of how the American government works has been entirely gleaned from songs in Schoolhouse Rock. I don’t keep up with American current events and only watch news shows if they’re on Comedy Central. (Wait. The Daily Show is a news show, right?)

But I am proud to be an American.

Even if being an American still isn’t the coolest.

After all, everyone says we’re fat and loud and don’t travel much outside of our country. And, when we do get up the gumption to go overseas, we show up wearing socks with our sandals.

It makes me angry when I hear people talk smack about Americans – even if there is the teensiest grain of truth in what they’re saying.

Maybe we are fat, but that’s just because we have so much wonderful food in our country! (I mean, I’ve mentioned pretzel M&M’s, right? How about coconut M&M’s? And peanut butter M&M’s? We have three times more types of M&Ms than any other country in the world – of course we’re going to be three times bigger than the people in other countries! This is just the way math works!)

Maybe we do speak kind of loudly, but that’s just because we take the whole “freedom of speech” thing pretty literally.

Okay, and maybe we don’t get out of our country much, but, I’ll have you know, those people wearing socks with their sandals are totally Canadians.

Despite the bad rap, Americans have a lot of good qualities.

Really.

(And by “qualities” I don’t just mean “snack foods,” okay.)

So, in honor of the Fourth of July*, I give you five of them**:

(*Yes, I realize the Fourth of July was a few days ago. While I may have been born in the United States, my sense of time was born somewhere in Brazil or Argentina or one of those countries where it’s perfectly acceptable to show up three days late to a party.)

(**I would have done a top ten list in keeping with my theme this summer, but I told myself I was only going to focus on the people and not on the food. Once you take M&Ms out of the equation, it kind of levels the playing field a bit, if you know what I mean.)

1. We believe that we can all be rock stars when we grow up.
I’ve been teaching off and on for the past twelve years, which means I’ve had the pleasure of asking students “What do you want to be when you grow up?” about a twelve gabillion times.

The first time I asked this question I was teaching at a Japanese high school in a rural fishing village. I was shocked when my students responded with practical, reasonable career aspirations, like anesthesiologist and nurse and postal clerk.

Umm, what?

Didn’t these kids know their teenage years were supposed to be focused on unrealistic expectations like growing up to be rock star or falling in love with a vampire or, you know, getting a date for the prom despite smelling suspiciously of goats. (Again, an analogy, people. And, no, I never went to the prom. Thanks for asking.)

A couple years later, I was volunteer teaching at an inner-city school in Buffalo. When I asked the students the same question, all the boys told me they wanted to be Kobe Bryant, while all the girls informed me that they were planning on becoming ballerinas or dolphin trainers.

Uh huh.

That’s what I’m talking about, my friends.

Americans may be big.

But you know what else is big?

Our dreams.

And, sure, many of us will grow up to have our dreams replaced with more practical aspirations. (You know, when we find out that a career in dolphin training requires actual, real-live dolphins… which happen to come in short supply in Buffalo.)

But some of us will keep on believing that we can make our dreams come true – no matter what our parents or teachers or the casting directors at America’s Next Top Dolphin Trainer might tell us.

And, as the kids say these days, that’s pretty awesome-sauce.

2. We lie like it’s our job.
Growing up in America, you never realize how much Americans lie until you go overseas and you meet people who are more than happy to tell you that you look fat today.

The truth is that Americans lie all the time.

And, despite the fact that we know everyone’s probably lying to us, we still choose to believe what we hear.

“Those pants look great on you.”

“Omigosh, you look so skinny. You should totally eat more ice cream.”

“You’re single? No way. But you’re such a great catch!”

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

See?

Those are all the lies I’ve told myself in the past ten minutes.

And I believed every single one of them!

Why do Americans lie so much, you ask?

Ummm, better question: why don’t other countries lie more?

I mean, lying is the best!

Not only does lying make you look like a nice, thoughtful, considerate human being, it also makes the person you’re lying to feel better about themselves. And, in turn, the person you just lied to will probably say something equally nice and untruthful to you, like, “Your hair looks amazing today. I love how all that frizz really frames your face!” or “Seriously, you look like you’ve lost ten pounds. Don’t make me force feed you this ice cream!”

And so continues the cycle of lies.

Until, that is, you move to Asia and everyone tells you that you look fat today.

3. We over-share.
In Japan, I worked with people for three years before I found out pertinent personal information like their educational background, their marital status, and, umm, their first names.

Meanwhile, in America, it’s not uncommon to share your entire life story with girl working at the drive-thru window. I know because I used to work at a drive-thru window. And, let me tell you, I heard a lot of dirt. It’s a good thing I didn’t have a blog back then because the whole world would know all about the time you cheated on your boyfriend with that rodeo clown.

Sometimes, the American tendency to over-share can be a bit unsettling. On my first trip back to the States while I was living in Japan, the clerk at the Walgreen’s regaled me with every intimate detail concerning her recent bout of gastrointestinal problems. When she grimaced and ran off to the bathroom, I was surprised that she didn’t drag me along with her to provide me with a little physical evidence to back up her story.

But, usually, quite frankly, I love it when people tell me their stories.

I do want to hear about your husband and your kids and, yes, please, I want to see pictures.

You have thirty-eight cats? Tell me more!

What’s that? The rodeo’s in town and you happen to have something for rodeo clowns? Just wait a second while I grab a pencil and some paper so I can write it all down.

I’m a storyteller. I love telling stories, but I also love listening to them. Plus, by listening to you blab on about your life story that means afterwards I get to blab on about my life story. (By the way, you might want to borrow my pencil and paper to take a few notes.)

4. We know how to party.
Should you have never met me in person, you may not realize this, but there are actually two of me. (And I’m sure you thought it was scary enough with only one.)

You see, first there is Everyday Sally.

Everyday Sally has a job and speaks in complete sentences. Everyday Sally dresses rather conservatively – almost to the point of prudishness. She doesn’t own shorts, and it has to be a million degrees out before she’ll wear a tank top in public. Everyday Sally can be reserved in front of people she doesn’t know and would rather give herself a root canal than talk to boys.

And then there’s Party Sally.

Party Sally is loud and overbearing. Party Sally has been known to show up in a coconut bra. Party Sally has a repertoire of dance moves that Beyonce would be jealous of. (Or so Party Sally tells herself.) Party Sally will flirt with anything that moves – including that battery-operated Santa Claus doll that dances to “Jingle Bell Rock” every time you clap your hands.

As you can imagine, it’s really best if Party Sally stays indoors and as far away from the general public as possible. (Trust me. Party Sally has managed to slip outside a few times over the past couple years, and the results were never pretty.)

Luckily, Americans are all about the house party. We know that the key to a good time is opening up your home to your friends so they can be rowdy and ridiculous in front of people who know them and love them… and will forgive them when they spend the night vomiting in the bathroom sink.

Unfortunately, the house party hasn’t really caught on in any of the other countries I’ve lived in. In Asia, it’s quite uncommon to have parties in your home. The only house parties I’ve ever been to have been ones thrown by fellow expats living here. In Brazil, I went to a few house parties, but they were usually family events or children’s birthday parties, where it was considered rather inappropriate to show up in a coconut bra. (But you can’t blame Party Sally for trying, now can you?)

5. We work hard, we play hard.
I’ve seen the statistics on how few Americans travel overseas, and I just don’t get it. It’s not just because statistics involve a lot of math, and I kind of suck at math. (Okay, so maybe all my math skills were also picked up from episodes of Schoolhouse Rock.)

The thing is I’ve met lots of Americans overseas – like, most of the foreign people I meet are Americans. The majority of my coworkers and friends in Japan were Americans. I met a handful of expats while living in Brazil, and all of them were from the States. While I was volunteering in Southeast Asia, most of my fellow volunteers were American. In Chiang Mai, a lot of the people I met who were living and working there were Americans. Even now, most of my coworkers in China are either Americans or Canadians. (You can tell the Canadians by the socks they’re wearing with their sandals. Ha, ha! Just kidding. You can actually tell them by the maple leaf flags they have sewn on to their backpacks – I’m pretty sure that’s a Canadian law or something.)

Maybe it’s true that Americans don’t travel overseas much, but, from what I’ve seen, there’s a whole lot of us working, volunteering and living overseas.

I suppose it’s just our American work ethic at, ahem, work. We can’t just show up in a foreign country and lollygag around – we feel like we have to be doing something.

While everyone else is backpacking through Europe or going on gap years in India or beach bumming across Thailand, we’re renting apartments and finding gainful employment. While all the Europeans are drinking rum and Cokes out of plastic buckets, we’re going to bed early so we can wake up for work on time. Everyone else is dressed in coconut bras, and we have on sensible shoes and business casual attire.

We’re like the teenager who stays home on a Saturday night studying for her English exam instead of partying it up at the popular kid’s house. (Again, just an analogy. I aced that English exam, by the way.)

So, yeah, being an American is not the coolest.

In fact, it’s pretty nerdy.

But, you know what, that’s okay with me.

After all, I may not be the best American.

But I am pretty good at being a nerd.

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I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On July 7, 2011 at 11:52 am Geoff said:

    argh don’t remind me about the superiority of American M&Ms, they’ve just opened a ginormous M&Ms store in London (bigger than the ones in the US, it’s that big) and still they have no room across the four floors to sell peanut butter or coconut or pretzel M&Ms. Grrrrr.

    • On July 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm Sally said:

      WHAT? This doesn’t even make sense. They have a big huge store for just the 2 kinds of M&Ms? What a waste! They need to import some pretzel M&Ms stat!

  2. On July 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm Roy | Cruisesurfingz said:

    I don’t know if over-sharing and lying can be reasons to be proud haha. But truthfully, the whole lying to be polite thing kind of got to me when I was in USA (and Canada).

    • On July 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm Sally said:

      What? But over-sharing & lying are two of the traits that make Americans so great! I mean, who doesn’t want to hear how skinny they look… and then hear about your gastrointestinal problems? (Okay, not so sure about the over-sharing anymore, but I do think the lying is pretty sweet. I always feel like a million bucks when I go home because everyone tells me how wonderful I look all the time.)

  3. On July 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm 2summers said:

    We make coconut M&Ms in America?! Or is that one of your American white lies? If you’re lying, that’s mean. If you’re telling the truth, my next visitor from back home will be bringing me a massive bag of coconut M&Ms.

    • On July 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm Sally said:

      I think the coconut M&Ms are new — I saw them for the first time when I was in the States this past winter. So good! (Not to rub it in or anything.)

  4. On July 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm Erik said:

    I love reading Bill Bryson- and you’re stuff is almost as good as his. That should say a lot about how well your book is going to do!

    This was awesome. I went with the boring “10 ‘Proud to be American’ Sites post on my page… who’s the nerd now.

    BTW, I keep ‘Party Erik’ chained up in the basement. The last incident of kareoking (is that even a word?) Lady Gaga after too much to drink was the final straw.

    • On July 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Erik! Glad you enjoyed the post. And you should really let Party Erik out every once in a while — just remember to keep him indoors and away from the coconut bras!

  5. On July 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm Sabrina said:

    I wish I would have read this post before I moved to Texas seven years ago – from Germany!

    This whole lying and over-sharing thing got to me pretty quickly. I just couldn’t figure out why all these people seemed so supernice when I met them, yet they never (ok, amost never) came through on their promises of “We NEED to hang out!!” It really started depressing me… until I met some foreigners here who explained that just because somebody tells you their life story and compliments you, doesn’t mean they’re your friend. Oh, being an expat can be so confusing. I’ve sort of grown to like the friendliness here even it doesn’t always mean something.

    But I still think of myself seven years ago and cringe at some of the things I did because I thought people actually meant what they said…. Imagine that conversation
    – “We MUST hang out sometime”
    – “Ok, when? I’m good for Sunday”.

    Or this one, one of my favorites:
    – “It was so nice to meet you. I’ll give you a call”
    – “But I just got here and don’t have a phone… let me write down my email address for you”.
    – “Aaaaahm, ok.”
    – “Ok, here you go. Bye”
    – “Thanks! I’ll give you a call”
    (Sabrina’s thoughts: What? But I just explained that I don’t have a phone…) That’s what happened until I learned that “I’ll give you a call” usually means “bye” in Texas.

    • On July 8, 2011 at 3:07 am Sally said:

      Ha ha ha! Those conversations are HILARIOUS. I love it! I used to teach foreign students in the States and went to grad school with lots of foreign students, so I often heard them complaining about the fake friendliness of Americans. They would be really frustrated because everyone was so nice to them but nobody really wanted to be their friend. I always felt bad for them, but, hey, it could be worse… I mean, at least we’re nice about not wanting to be your friend. 🙂

    • On April 6, 2014 at 11:52 am Dafydd said:

      Ah yes, that reminds me of a former American work colleague I had in Wales. She now lives in California. When I first found her on Facebook, she invited me ove rto stay with her in the States and even told me when it was best to go. When I said I would go and when, she never replied again. Obviously as you say, she didn’t mean it and was just lying.

  6. On July 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm Ken C. said:

    Nerds and their “partying” alter egos are some of the best Americans!

    In fact, I’m sure the guys who INVENTED M&Ms were nerds [or, at least they were geeky food scientists at Mars candies].

    I’m always happy & slightly surprised to meet Americans in off-beat areas of foreign countries…I usually pause to say “hello” and ask “how do you like [this place]?” Nothing too intimate or personal, though–please keep your surgical history to yourself; unless we’re friends…then, we can compare scars.

    • On July 8, 2011 at 3:02 am Sally said:

      It’s funny after years of living in Asia, I feel funny about asking super personal questions even when I’m back in the States but I still want to KNOW. So I’m more than happy when people offer up the details without my asking. (Okay, so maybe they can keep their surgical history to themselves.)

  7. On July 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm Katherina said:

    Coming from a financial background, I tell you – those statistics show whatever they want to show! I mean, seriously, which people were the “sample”? maybe they only asked a couple of rodeo clowns! It’s really all about your sample 😉

    By the way, if you think Americans are loud… don’t even get near any spanish speakers. At work its me and my boss (argentinian) sitting next to each other. When we’re both at the phone, the rest of the office stops working cause they can’t concentrate anymore (and that’s when we’re talking about business… imagine how it would be if its with a couple of friends over some beers!).

    • On July 8, 2011 at 3:01 am Sally said:

      I honestly don’t think Americans are that loud — it’s just everyone else who thinks we’re loud. Maybe everybody else needs to get their hearing checked or something — maybe they all have super sensitive ears or something.
      And, thanks for the tip on Spanish speakers. I’ll be sure not to get into a screaming match with any of them! 🙂

  8. On July 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm Audrey said:

    #1 is one of the things I value most about Americans. When I taught economics to high school kids in Estonia, I felt like a crazy cheerleader to get my kids to go beyond careers as teacher, engineer, bureaucrat. Not that I have anything to do with the kids who invented Skype, but I like to think that rubbing a bit of my American-ness off did something in my small community.

    When we return home to visit these days, I love the over-sharing. It’s like “everyone has a story” on speed.

    • On July 8, 2011 at 2:59 am Sally said:

      I don’t mind it when my students truly do want to become anesthesiologists or postal clerks (because, hey, those jobs have really great perks like free anesthesia and reading people’s postcards! wheee!), but what makes me sad is seeing my students pursue a career path they clearly don’t want. Now I teach economics, accounting and business majors at a university in China. When I ask my students why they are studying what they are studying, most of them tell me they are doing it because that’s what their parents want them to do. A lot of them are expected to take over their family businesses and all of them are expected to get good, high-paying jobs, especially since most of them come from single-child families. I know there is a lot of parental pressure in the States too (I was lucky enough not to have much — this is what happens when your parents have 6 kids — they figure some of you can fall by the wayside and bum around the world). But I don’t think the pressure we experience in the States is anything compared to the pressure I see my students under here in Asia. It’s really heartbreaking.

    • On July 9, 2011 at 1:22 am Chinagirl said:

      Typical Americans, believing you have invented EVERYTHING!!!!
      It was not Americans who invented SKYPE, it was a Swedish guy and a Danish guy.

      But it is a good thing to incourage kids to believe, they can become and do anything they want.

      • On July 9, 2011 at 2:45 am Sally said:

        Ha ha! But if Americans had never invented the Internet then we wouldn’t even need Skype! Wait. Americans invented the Internet, right?

        • On July 9, 2011 at 7:29 am Audrey said:

          Although Skype was started by a Swedish and German guy, it was Estonian engineers who actually created the software and capability. That was my point with bringing up Skype in connection to Estonia – although Americans may think that they leave their mark in places, it’s really the local people who come through in the end. Sorry that point got lost in translation here.

          I completely agree that in many parts of the world people don’t have the same luxury as Americans to dream about different careers and opportunities. When I worked with students, I tried to pump up their confidence about what they could do and to then go for it. By the time I left, I had two high school students who had won a local gov’t website design project.

  9. On July 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm Christine said:

    My mom mailed me peanut butter filled, chocolate covered pretzels. America may do a lot of great things, but I still think snack food is our greatest strength. That, and house parties with the infamous red cup.

    • On July 8, 2011 at 2:52 am Sally said:

      Red cups! How could I forget about the red cups! Oh, and it can’t be a house party without about 12 kinds of dip… and now I want dip for lunch. *Sigh.*

    • On July 8, 2011 at 7:42 am steph_fig said:

      and drinking the filthy beer in those infamous red cups after unsuccessful rounds of beer pong. ü

      • On July 8, 2011 at 9:05 am Sally said:

        Wow, beer pong. Been a while since I’ve played that! Usually I’m too busy dancing on the bar and making a general fool out of myself to play games that require hand-eye coordination.

  10. On July 8, 2011 at 5:23 am Juno said:

    Hey Sally, I’m currently in your country right now and I think I have a lot to say after three months. But I already found some pretty wicked good stuff about Americans here.
    🙂

    • On July 8, 2011 at 9:06 am Sally said:

      I can’t wait until your blog posts about Americans. We want to know what you think about us! (Please say nice stuff. We always say nice stuff about you! And we’re totally not lying when we do it. 🙂 )

  11. On July 8, 2011 at 7:40 am steph_fig said:

    another ridiculously funny, yet sensible, read. thanks for the entertainment. ü

  12. On July 8, 2011 at 11:53 am Nomadic Samuel said:

    I enjoyed this article. I’ve found personally that I’ve grown to appreciate my country (Canada) more since I’ve been living abroad for six consecutive years. I think having a global perspective makes you more objective about where you’re from & also more appreciative. You can learn to love the positive aspects and chuckle a bit at the stereotypes.

    • On July 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm Sally said:

      Samuel,
      Thanks for your comment & glad you enjoyed the post. I definitely think distance makes the heart grow fonder. I love my country, but I always love it MORE after being gone for a while. When I go back to the States, it’s like taking a trip to a magical wonderland where everyone speaks my language and the currency is M&Ms. Mmmm….

  13. On July 8, 2011 at 1:17 pm Adam @ SitDownDisco said:

    One thing I’ve noticed recently is that there are Americans travelling overseas…and they’re usually hanging out with one another! This probably has something to do with your point about Americans setting up shop on a more permanent basis which then leads to establishing more permanent relationships. And it’s normal to establish those relationship with people from your own country.

    So perhaps the statistic that Americans don’t travel much really is about Americans not travelling in the same way as the hordes of backpackers you see around the place. That’d make sense to me.

    • On July 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm Sally said:

      I think, as a whole, Americans don’t tend to take the long trips like European and Australian people do simply because we don’t have the vacation time and we don’t have a “gap year” culture at all. But I think it’s becoming popular among a lot of young people to go overseas and teach or volunteer or join the Peace Corps for a couple years before starting “a real job”. That’s what I did after I graduated from undergrad… but then I decided to go overseas again and make teaching overseas my “real job” (which I’ve seen a lot of other Americans do as well).
      I’m just always amazed when people tell me they don’t meet Americans traveling because I’m like, “What? I meet Americans all the time!” But I’m not really traveling at the moment and when I do I don’t really stay in hostels or hang out with backpackers. Instead, I tend to hang out with other expats or friends living in the country I’m visiting. So I guess it just depends on where you go and who you’re hanging out with.

      • On July 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm Adam @ SitDownDisco said:

        Yeah, I don’t meet Americans in traditional backpacker settings very often…once in Laos, once in Malaysia and once in Singapore. So many I’ve met have been volunteering helping under-privileged kids, orangutans and victims of disasters! Good work America!

      • On April 6, 2014 at 12:02 pm Dafydd said:

        I never meet Americans abroad either. I would say I maybe meet one for every 1000 Europeans/Australians/Kiwis.

        I also have some proof that this is right. A few years ago, I dated a Chinese girl who was very interested in America. So, when we went to Cambodia, she was nosey enough to look through several pages of the Siemp Reap guesthouse’s guest book to find the anmes of Americans, but she couldn’t find them. So, she asked the guesthouse owner where his guests came from. He answered by quoting a long list of nationalities which included various European nationalities, various Asian nationalities, Kiwis and Aussies. So, she asked directly “what about Americans?” to which he replied that they hardly ever get any Americans. I have heard other travellers, including Americans themselves, tell me that American travellers are often rarer than white tigers!!!

  14. On July 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm Steph said:

    Love this. I just wrote a similar post about how traveling abroad has made me appreciate the United States so much more. It’s little things, like better service, and big things, like our ambition. When I lived in London I confused/annoyed the crap out of everyone with my cheerful chattyness. I was just being friendly but it was WAY overbearing for them.

    • On July 10, 2011 at 2:11 am Sally said:

      I had the total opposite experience in London. All my coworkers told me when they first met me they thought I was really quiet and polite (mwahahaha! fooled them!). I think I was trying to act overly reserved because I knew that was the “British way.” It wasn’t until I had been there 3 months and was about to leave that I started acting like myself (i.e. a total lunatic). My British colleagues were all like, “Whoa. What happened to you?”

  15. On July 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm kate | transatlantic sketches said:

    I love this! So right on… except for maybe the coconut bras 🙂 I have yet to break those bad boys out.

    • On July 9, 2011 at 2:47 am Sally said:

      DO IT. You’ll thank me later. (Much later… like twenty years later when you can finally laugh about that time you showed up to work in a coconut bra.)

  16. On July 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista said:

    Really enjoyed reading why your proud to be an American! There seems to be so much US bashing out there, it is nice to read why people are proud.

    • On July 9, 2011 at 2:47 am Sally said:

      Thanks, Debbie. Yeah it can be a downer to hear so many bad things being said about Americans. We’re not perfect, but who is? Besides, we have pretzel M&Ms! That should make up for any of our deficiencies. 🙂

  17. On July 9, 2011 at 8:23 am Megan said:

    USA! USA!

    Too much? Nah, I’m totally proud to be an American.

    Top Reasons for Loving America:
    1. You can flush your toilet paper. Anytime. Anywhere. No questions.
    2. You can drink the tap water. It might not taste great, but it’s safe.
    3. Freedom of speech. I really, really appreciate being able to say whatever I want about my government without fear of arrest. I really, really appreciate being able to read whatever I want, at any time I want, without fear of arrest.
    4. Good, cheap pizza.

    There are more, but I’m just gonna stop there.

  18. On July 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm Mike C said:

    Great post but when I first saw the title I was thinking it would be a Lee Greenwood type ‘I’m proud to be an American’ post… phew…

  19. On July 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm Heather said:

    I met loads of Americans in Oz, but most of us were there on the WHV — granted, I worked very little during my time there, but it was a way to travel long term. I SO wish we had a gap year culture. You’re right…if folks go somewhere for any length of time, it’s to do it before getting a job and climbing the ladder. I’m back at home and working just to pay the basic bills while I sort out how to break away permanently — sending you an email soon on that note 🙂

    I hadn’t thought about oversharing being American, but I suppose you’re right! I know I do it and thought it was just one of my quirks and potentially less attractive traits (it doesn’t always work well for me O:-)) But after I read this post yesterday, I ran a few errands before heading off to a couple of work meetings. And this customer in a store was telling the sales associate ALL about her week and the drama she’d had, and you could tell they weren’t friends or even acquaintances — I almost laughed out loud at the level of detail she shared with this poor, unsuspecting man!

    I tried to laugh off people’s negative comments about the US the first half of the Oz experience, but after a while I grew somewhat defensive because the comments just got to be too much after a while. Now that I’m home, I’ve been pretty critical and giving Oz glowing review after glowing review. I guess that’s how it goes!

    • On July 10, 2011 at 2:08 am Sally said:

      Ha ha! I assure you if that man has worked in customer service very long he is prepared for the stories. I heard so many stories while working in customer service in the States. I’d be like, “Umm, so, uhh, this story about your boyfriend? Does that mean you DO want a scone with that coffee?”

  20. On July 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm The Travel Chica said:

    Yes, The Daily Show is a news show. And way to call out those fashion-deprived Canadians.

  21. On July 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm Leif aka The Runaway Guide said:

    Word to ya moms. I like number 1!
    Safe travels,
    Leif

  22. On July 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm Alex said:

    One of my favorite posts of yours of all times! Sometimes I really get exhausted with defending my nationality…. especially to other Americans!

    My argument is usually along the lines of “You, and many your family and friends and other loved ones are Americans, yes? HOW BAD CAN THEY BE?!?!” Stop the self hating, USA!

    • On July 12, 2011 at 1:53 am Sally said:

      Yeah, I really don’t get bashing Americans when you are an American. I can understand disagreeing with our country’s politics and such, but calling all Americans fat and lazy when you yourself are American? Not cool, dude. Not cool at all.

  23. On July 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm choi kum fook said:

    Who says American is not common of traveling out side of America!? The majority volunteers worked at the farm were American. On the all, America is great! So it is proud to be American. Miss Sally, I like to be an American. What is the Qualifications. Ha!. Ha! .

    • On July 15, 2011 at 4:18 am Sally said:

      I remembered you saying that most of the volunteers were Americans. I think this says a lot of good things about America. We work hard — even while on vacation!

  24. On July 17, 2011 at 9:23 am Ceri said:

    Awwww. In all fairness, Americans really do get a bum rap especially here in the UK. I don’t know why they’re such an easy target.

    I love your top 5 reasons though.

    Number 1 is so great. Everyone in the UK is so cynical and any rock star dreams are kind of shaken out of us in a flash while we’re teens. Dream big, America! 😀

    Number 3 – I love that Americans overshare and talk so much about what’s happening with them. The British are the exact opposite. We have such a stiffness when it comes to our emotions and being honest and outspoken like that. Boo. 😛

    You know, I saw this documentary film about backpacking before and there was an overwhelming amount of Americans who actually told people they were Canadian because of the apparent stigma that’s attached to being American. Craziness!

    • On July 18, 2011 at 5:08 am Sally said:

      Aww, glad you enjoyed it! I’m glad you can appreciate the over-sharing. I worked in London for a summer and I remember thinking everyone in the store where I worked must not want to be my friend because they weren’t telling me all about their families, boyfriends, history of serious infections… you know, like Americans do when we’re trying to get to know people.
      As for those Americans who pretend their Canadians, I haven’t met any of them yet. Either that or they’ve just been pretending their Canadian… but I think I’d be able to tell… you know, based on whether or not they were wearing socks with their sandals. 🙂

  25. On May 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm Eugene said:

    Hey Sally, cool read! Didn’t understand any of it, but the punctuation is excellent… Just a point of correction – we don’t dislike American tourists in general – in fact, the party-starters are always Americans so we love you for that. We just hate that you come over here and steal our women…;)

  26. On May 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm Eugene said:

    Sally, cool read! Didn’t understand any of it, but the punctuation is excellent… Just a point of correction – we don’t dislike American tourists in general – in fact, the party-starters are always Americans so we love you for that. We just hate that you come over here and steal our women…;)

  27. On June 25, 2012 at 7:16 am Carlo | visa-freeworld said:

    I really enjoy reading your blog posts and I cannot get over with it. More power to you and your blog 🙂
    Carlo | visa-freeworld recently posted..Crystal Cove, Philippines

  28. On May 20, 2013 at 7:10 pm Tillie said:

    Okay, Clap with me on every word: *I love America*. There. Much better. Being half eskimo/inuit from Greenland, half european (danish), having traveled most of Europe and some snowy places in the Arctic regions of the world, I LOVE going to America.
    It’s my favorite destination (Yes, all of it!)! Haha.

    And; I love the politeness and over-sharing. I find it both soothing and comforting, and all in all, it just makes my day and mood better. Love it!

    Mind you, I grew up back and forth between Greenland – lots of snow, HUGHE blizzards, laughing a lot, taking it easy and inuit with round faces and bodies and weird food – that I love btw – and
    Denmark – think IKEA, haircut, ultrathin people that are all about efficiency, what their rights are and pension, seriousness and also about being ‘smart’ and fashion the beige, black, white, linear kind of way.
    America just rocks for me with all of its diversity, friendly people and loooong distances to drive.
    In Greenlands capital we have like 120 kms of road. Denmark is roughly the size of New Mexico… I love driving, so there you go. My dream destination of all time!
    I’m actually contemplating going from east to west or north to south on an (I imagine in my head) epic roadtrip! 😀

    Growing up I was also very lucky that my parents traveled A LOT. Like 2 times a year, different destinations every time.

    USA, USA, my absolute favorite!
    I love that people are polite, I love that there are sooo many snacks and humongous supermarkets, that you can over-size EVERY meal and beverage – when I love food, I love it to the extend where I can’t wiggle my ears, let alone get up from my chair. Haha.

    And I love that is so different from state to state and that americans are proud to be americans. I defend America and americans profusely when I hear enough of europeans way of thinking intellectually/politically – like in; I have a scarf and heavy, black glasses and drink wine and therefore are anyones superior.

    I love reading stuff like this, and I travel to the states every second year, circa.

    Yaaaay America! 🙂 Yeah, sorry for being a bit super-excited, I know that there’s stuff that you guys probably think about your own country as there is for me in my own countries. But I am just so in love with America I consider moving there every second year. 😉

    Love your blog still! Even if it’s not so much on America. 😉

    • On May 21, 2013 at 10:47 am Sally said:

      Aww, this comment just made my day. I think it’s pretty common in the traveling community to bash America and Americans. Especially among Americans. But every country has its good and its bad.
      And, PLEASE, come on back here to visit!

  29. On September 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm Alana said:

    Why I love America:
    1) at public restrooms you don’t pay for toilet paper by the square. and, you don’t have to pay to use a public restroom either.
    2) cold drinks come with ice! yessss!! I love me some ice!!
    3) freedom of religion – I can pray loudly and expressively to God and no one calls the cops on me for it
    4) diversity! It’s the melting pot!
    5) American pride. We can argue all day regarding politics and belief systems but at the end of the day, we love this land.
    6) Texas. ‘Nuff said.

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