Saturday, April 7, 2007

American in Alacant

I have always been proud to be American. Despite what other countries may think of our current president or our current international politics, I can always tell that they have special respect for me when I introduce myself as an “American.” And I can tell, as I watch people of different nationalities interact, that Americans tend to hold themselves differently. Some people may interpret this wrongly. Angela told me that some people think Americans think they are better than everyone else, or more important. I don’t think this is necessarily true, but I can see how others might come to perceive us as acting this way. Americans are unashamed of their origins, beliefs, or opinions, and they are ordinarily not afraid to share or discuss them, either. Many other cultures have a reserved-ness that makes us seem almost brazen by comparison, but I think we are just eager to connect with each other as human beings, and maybe less afraid of the consequences than people coming from other cultures.

In any case, like I said, I have always been proud to be American. However, Angela made me entirely rethink the “American stereotype” with a comment she made in Alacant. On our way up to Castillo de Santa Barbara, we met two American girls who were from Chicago. They apparently had been in Alacant since the previous day, but since it had been raining nonstop since they arrived, they had done nothing more than visited a pub and sleep. This trip to the castle was the first time they had ventured out to see anything. Halfway up, they stopped to take a picture. Then, they turned to us. “Do you guys know any good bars?” they asked? “We’re going back to get some alcohol.” And that was that. Back down the hill they went.

As we turned to resume our trek up the hill, Angela turned to me in amazement. “You know, Allison,” she said, “you impress me. You don’t drink. You don’t club. You are probably the most atypical American girl I have ever met.”

That is probably the truest statement anyone has ever made about me.

And then she added, “And I’m so glad we’re traveling together. I didn’t know what I was going to do if you wanted to club every night.”

And maybe the nicest compliment.

No comments: