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VINJABOND /// JOHN V CAINASK is a series of posts answering questions asked by readers about vagabonding. Contact me to ask your own or view all ASK posts.

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QUESTION:

I just landed a job that will place me in a different country every few months. Being a digital nomad has been a dream forever but I’ve barely left Montana my whole life, let alone the country.

So I’m curious as to if you ever get hassled or treated differently for being an American while traveling abroad.

Laura Shepard
Montana, USA

Yes, but it’s more interesting than bad.

As long as our planet has defined borders segregating specific nations with each its own laws, customs, opinions, religions and cultures, we will always have racism, discrimination and prejudice towards others.

And yet that’s what makes our world great. Well the first part, about how diverse we are as a people. It’s just a shame as what makes us different also makes so many of us to fear and hate the different.

But as an American, we, for better or for worse, are more visible to the rest of the world in these modern times. Perhaps because of politics and pop culture.

Politics of the United States. This is what most Westerners other than ourselves judge us Americans through. When you’re traveling in one of those countries, this becomes almost painfully apparent, although it shouldn’t be surprising.

For example, when sitting at a pub or a dinner table with new found friends, they will question (almost interrogate) me as if I’m directly responsible for all of America’s politics and problems in the world. I’ve learned not to take it too seriously and try to make it fun and never a debate.

Defending your own beliefs is one thing but NEVER criticize a nation’s politics while you’re physically in their nation to its nationals. It’s a lose-lose situation and even illegal in some countries.

In less developed countries, pop culture references and comparisons are how we Americans are judged and it’s far more pleasant to deal with. We may often be walking cliches in these parts, but at least it’s interesting and not so well, political. Defending or debating our movies, celebrities, music and arts makes for better chatter than how we Americans are ruining the world.

However, Americans are often treated the same way as most other Westerners; French, Germans, Canadians, etc. But rarely in a negative perspective. The most common view towards us is that we are all wealthy.

For example, obvious Americans (or in this case, any Western tourist) will quite often be charged or quoted more for the same goods and services than the locals would pay.

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But people being human, there are some bad apples that will attempt to scam Americans because they see Americans as easy targets.

Being a citizen and proud American traveling the world, I am treated differently, but never to a point of never wanting to return to a specific part of the world.




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4 COMMENTS ///

  1. Lori Zabel

    Your on point. I France, it gets a bit weary when my friends want veer into talking about politics… Like you said, they blame me for all of America’s politics. It’s almost funny, almost.

    • Jine Niner

      Haha, i have this problem every time I visit my friends in Berlin. Although now it’s just fun and self effacing games.


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