American Encounters

One aspect of living overseas I’ve always found fascinating is encountering American tourists. In Tbilisi, we get some, but not many, so my fascination with them is always heightened when we travel to more touristy locations such as Santorini. On our quick trip this past weekend, we were faced with Americans of all ages, from all parts of the country, and at varying levels of adventurous. It was quite entertaining.

I always wonder and worry when we travel to extremely touristy locations what the locals and staff think of us. Do you think we’re too loud? Annoying? Are we nice? Are we friendly enough? Do you secretly hate us?

I’ve told you before, my brain is fun sometimes.

Since I now live overseas, I have almost a third-person perspective on American tourists. I am you, but not you. I’m from America but also sort of from Tbilisi, for now at least. We are here for the same reasons, but also very different ones. It’s a very odd position to be.

Personally, I love running into a bunch of Americans when we are on vacation. I don’t necessarily want to talk with them, but  I love listening to them. I hear English spoken all the time, but it’s so lovely to hear a familiar accent after a long stretch overseas. In Santorini, I heard every conceivable American accent, and it was excellent.

It’s easy to feel disconnected from your home country when you live overseas. I don’t know what the most popular music is right now. I don’t know what on earth is going on with fashion. I have no idea what a “stan” is (but that could also be my age; I’m now 30 after all). I think for me, encountering American tourists is a  way to feel a connection to my home country. Even though my life is so different, we must be at least somewhat the same since we all ended up here. 

Oh, and if any of you are crippled by the same anxieties I am, I find a vast majority of you to be very kind and respectful. You guys are fantastic at actually lining up when told to, making sure everyone has a chance to see the sight and get “the picture,” and rolling with the punches when things don’t go quite according to plan. You guys always smile and say hello when we pass you on a path, give up your table immediately at a crowded restaurant, and stay seated when the seatbelt sign is on.

In short, you rock, American tourists. Don’t ever change.


One thought on “American Encounters

  1. “I am you, but not you.” I can relate! I often listen to American tourists too and sometimes strike up conversations with them.

    When I first lived and studied in Europe over 20 years ago I also felt anxiety about being too loud, annoying, etc. Now I mainly feel embarrassed because of the current state of politics in the USA…

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