The land of the free. The home of the brave. The United States of America is an enormous country, with proud and patriotic people. Their government may be a bit dysfunctional and is currently shut down, but the country’s influence on the world is undeniable. Home to the world’s largest film industry*, its popular culture has found its way into the hearts and minds of people all around the globe.
However, Americans sometimes get a bad rap as travelers. It’s a bit unfair to tar the whole population of a country with the same brush, but for some that haven’t ever set foot in the glorious USA, their view of Americans can be tainted by the occasional few of those that venture away from home.
You may have encountered the ones I’m talking about. They are generally older folk, in couples or in groups, and they are LOUD. They shout over to their partner on the other side of the shop or restaurant, “HEY MAUDE! How many of these should I get?” or will snicker loudly to each other, “You call this a burger? I’d call it a slider!”
There are a few unfortunate effects of this. One is that it reflects badly on the majority of American travelers, who are fun, adventurous and very interesting. The other is that it may turn people off travelling to America. And this is a huge shame.
America is probably one of my favourite countries to visit, and I never get sick of going there. It has a whopping 50 states and one federal district, each of them with its own identity; sometimes you feel like you’re travelling through a completely different country when you cross over into another state. There are mountains, there are beaches, there are deserts, and there are cities that never sleep. Those that decry its lack of culture couldn’t be more wrong. There is music, there is art, there is theatre, and there is film. Although some American food may leave a lot to be desired, it is home to some of the world’s top restaurants, and Man v. Food challenges.
But you’ll discover that the best thing about America is the people. They’re the complete opposite of the French. Americans love having visitors to their country, and they want you to love their country as much as they do. You will not be able to find any other people in the world who will make you feel more welcome in their country than the Americans. They are wonderfully warm, friendly, and just so damn helpful (yes, British customer service, you could learn a lot here). When they say, “you have a good day”, they’re not just saying it as a nicety. They actually mean it.
On each of my visits to America, I’ve met locals who are curious about my home country. They want to know if I loved Steve Irwin, whether we have kangaroos as pets, and whether I know Russell Crowe. Their genuine interest and curiosity about the world outside their own borders is endearing and flattering, unlike the French, who couldn’t really give a toss about you and where you’re from.
So if you have ever been put off a visit to America, I urge you to reconsider. There is so much to see and do, and the American people will welcome you with open arms. And if you need more reason, they speak English (no fumbling with phrasebooks!) and, on the whole, it’s a pretty cheap place to eat and shop compared to Australia and Europe.
Tell them that I sent y’all.