America has always enjoyed being a country that other countries looked up to and believed was a land of wealth, freedom and opportunity. Most Americans still believe that too because they simply don’t know any better. I held on to those beliefs before I moved outside of America too. When I moved overseas I was well accepted in Europe and I felt like a prestigious immigrant when I arrived back in 1987. This was mostly due to Europeans seeing Americans as their liberators. My ego was boosted tremendously and helped me settle in too..
But while living overseas for almost 3 decades, I’ve watched the sentiment consensus of being pro-American slowly change to anti-American. This is because the citizens of countries overseas had enough of America’s wars and over the top interventionist foreign policies. They now see America as an aggressive country of war-mongers and control freaks instead of their liberators. So many nations now resent America’s wars and giant footprint in world affairs. But the young Americans of today add fuel to the fire by how they show their aggressiveness and lack of patience when visiting Europe and other countries.
Although I share some of their sentiment, one thing is for sure. The prestige of being looked up to as an American overseas no longer carries that advantage. I’m sure American TV has a lot to do with it too. In fact, when it is discovered that I’m an America by those I meet who don’t know me, it can all too often get downright frustrating and annoying trying to explain that my view of America is not much different from theirs and they should not confuse my government’s aggressions, wars, policies and agendas as mine.
The Americans I meet today who are on vacation seem to love Europe but complain about the way things mover slower here. I would think they would appreciate the slower pace so they could relax more and have less stress. But they’re just are not wired that way. I find it so tiresome explaining this is not America so be patient and deal with it and enjoy your vacation time instead. On the other hand, I can remember when I was that way so I do share their sentiment too (to a degree).
Now when I meet other Americans who are just arriving and getting settled, I can easily see why others in Europe mistake me for those Americans already making a spectacle of themselves complaining that Europe is backwards compared to America which gives them the label of the ugly American who’s belligerence and arrogance I want nothing to do with.
When I was making the transition from America to Europe, there was plenty I could have complained about but I was so grateful to try a new lifestyle that I kept my big mouth shut, practiced patience and adjusted quickly to the new culture. Being a very friendly American, I seem to wear a hat that says: Complaint Department. So I listen to all the complaints and my questions to the new expats always complaining was and still is: Why don’t you just go back home if you don’t like the culture here? If Europe was like America, you would have never came to live here in the first place, would you? Those questions are usually enough to have them settle down and give a think.
The over-reaction to a slower and less aggressive culture is normal when you’re use to life in the fast lane, possess very little patience and are wired to expect people to jump at your every desire. That is what being Americanized is all about. It’s like an addiction and like any other addiction that needs to be eliminated, it is simply time for some rehab! Try a little patience, you’ll like it! The point is don’t expect your environment to conform to you, expect to conform to your environment instead.