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Abroad and Beyond

The Pub

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 30 November 2013 | Views [277]

Highlands of Scotland

Highlands of Scotland

What worried me most about traveling abroad was how Americans were perceived. I’ve had good and bad experiences with the locals in the countries I’ve visited, and I had planned on being under the radar as much as possible when traveling to the United Kingdom.

My first trip abroad was to Australia. Everyone seemed very happy to meet an American student who was young and willing to accept new ideas…Then I learned very quickly, Anti-American hate could still be seen and heard by people targeting American travelers. I was with my partner who wanted to see the open mall in Sydney. He and I had grown close over the trip and he talked about wanting to stay. As we talked and walked, a man came up behind us and started spewing Anti-American slurs and hate at us. Mind you, we’re kids of 14 and 15, I being the older of us two. We didn’t bring this attack upon us…we were just being like everyone else and enjoying the mall. I could tell my partner was deeply disturbed by this rage and spouting man, so thinking on my feet I pushed him into a Pasty store and closed the door quickly. I talked to the clerk and asked her to keep the door closed to the man who had tailed us for a good while. When she asked why, I told her what he was saying and she agreed to keep the door barred to him, despite there being five other patrons in the shop with us. A kind man even walked us back to our guides and explained to them what had happened.

That fear of being so hated for no reason other than being an American, stay with me. I traveled to Canada and then made the leap cross the pond a few years later. With the perception of Americans being low, I choose to blend in as much as possible. I must have achieved the goal, because many people mistook me for knowing how to get around. They always seemed very surprised to hear I wasn’t English, and I was this American woman traveling alone. They asked me the usual questions of having a gun, how much land did I have, was I from New York, or Texas. It was a good way to converse and embrace the culture. The Scots embraced me like one of their own, and the English snubbed me and then often broke down to have a beer with me. It was a grand and enjoyable life for the time I had in England.
However, the caution was still there.

I had gone to a pub in the country side, mainly because I had a break in between travel and school. (I study abroad at this time.) I was the only one in and I was hungry. I sat at the table…the only table…in the pub and placed my order.

Soon after a few men came in and one placed orders and sat down with me. I smiled and nodded, not wanting to speak, else give away the game. They chatted and I learned one man was from Germany, one from Scotland, the other Irish. When it came my turn to announce my country, and shift and risk the game, I found not only were they very happy I was an American, they were pleased to talk about their lives, their homes, work, family, what have you. They wanted to share their story with me simply because I was an American. I had gone from hiding to this sort of celebrity in a matter of a few short seconds. When the food came, it was no longer mine, it was ours.  I shared and they told stories of the Irish and English conflict. How Germany would take the soccer trophy, how glad they were about me not being English.

It was amazing to share such a meal with strangers and walking away with friends. How simple and wonderful it was. The little things in life always seem to have the biggest reward. While I was still cautious about announcing where I was from, I was able to speak and be myself with more ease. I was accepted by three men from three different nationalities and life was good. It gave me strength to carry on and travel around Europe with a bit more comfort and wonder.

Tags: friends, pub, travel

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