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Published: October 5th 2008
I've travelled through a good dozen countries in my life, and I maintain that American men are the best looking. I believe this is because of the vast diversity in our fair country, so I find it a bit ironic. But I suppose it's just genetics really, you mix two breeds and get a much superior specimen. Therefore, I find the term "Ugly American" a bit misleading, though extremely deserved.
As America is going through a tough, and controversial time politically, most of the world has taken note. Most people I meet for a prolonged period, when trying to make conversation, ask about my stance on the impending election. In Spain, my sweet, broken-Englished cab driver asked me if I was "voting for Obama, or the other guy?" I told him what I thought, and he responded with his personal opinion, citing astute reasons to back it up. Being a cab driver is an excellent profession, but certainly not one where you are expected to be educated profusely, or politically minded. It takes a sharp mind to learn a cities streets that well, so while I wasn't surprised by his smarts, I was embarrassed by his awareness of my own country. A substantial fraction of the American population is ill-informed about their very own government, and unmotivated to learn about it. Cab drivers in rural Spain are better-versed in American current events than many Americans. I know many people say the reason for this is that America is the most important and powerful country in the world, but if that is the case, then why don't we ourselves know about it? How do Europeans know about their own country AND ours? And probably many others. This cab driver was not an isolated incident, either.
The British family that I'm currently staying with have particularly strong opinions about America's upcoming electoral candidates, and I'm embarrassed to say I don't even know who their PM is. I know who it was...does that count?
In Barcelona, I had the privilage to meet someone from Argentina, and who is living proof of the benefits of travel. He has lived everywhere, including a few US states, and is such a savvy person. One night he was telling a friend and I about Argentina, and how in 2001, the country had an economic crash, and nearly fell apart. This was supposed to be prelude to a story, but he stops and asks if we know the event he's talking about. Ashamedly, we bit our lips and shook our head. "Ah! Americans!" he exclaimed in frustration, and preceded to enlighten us to the recent catastrophy of his homeland. I tried to justify our ignorance by saying that in 2001, we were preoccupied by a certain crash of our own, but I knew that the date was irrelevant. I was so embarrassed. Americans really don't know shit about other countries. We're the most popular cheerleader in school, and thus we don't need to concern ourselves with other nerd's lives. They're members of the chess club and debate team, like we'd really pay attention to them. And yet, the whole world is watching; each foreigner who has no vote of their own, has baited their breath in impotent anticipation to see who we're going to vote next Prom Queen.
We're sure lucky we've got looks.
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