~see the vast majority of people I have ever known
~stock up on books and all manner of brands that I can't find in Romania
~drown both my iPod AND camera in my purse because I apparently forgot how to shut my water bottle tightly
~see the takeover of strappy Gladiator-style shoes in America
~get caught up on cultural happenings as I frequently had to interject into conversations in which everyone was laughing with "Cultural Reference Liz Doesn't Know"
~see a peaceful protest of the Iranian election in Union Square, NYC
~be made fun of at least a dozen times a day for my "endearing" British inflection
~gain 10 pounds from eating every last one of my Top 100 foods (except Yuengling- dang!), including TWO bagels in one morning
~read the entire Sunday NYTimes
~explain to more than one person that I don't in fact live in Africa, it just LOOKS like it based on all of my pictures (though I can see how you would confuse "Romania" and "Somalia")
~attend a college roommate's wedding
~generally feel loved and cared for by friends and family
All this in only TWELVE DAYS. You can perhaps imagine what my body did when I finally got to Budapest after a 3 hour drive to the airport that turned into 5 because of traffic, a 7 hour "overnight" flight to London, a missed connection to Budapest that added 3 extra hours in London, and then a pleasant upgrade to first-class for that last lovely leg of travel. It (my body) pretty much decided to stop functioning, so even though I was in a new city, I decided to take it easy. This was further assisted by walking smack into a pole while looking across the street at a pet shop, pretty much rendering myself in constant pain for the duration of the trip.
I did love Budapest, and I would like to go back when I am perhaps a bit less jetlagged and exhausted. But since this post is about America, I would like to close with a "Top Ten" list of the the most notable ways to unquestionably spot American tourists abroad (or at least in Europe). Because we kind of stick out. A lot. I can say with a high degree of certainty (though someone will surely write an angry Anonymous comment stating otherwise) that the more of these items an individual has, the more likely they are Fresh of the Boat from the USofA. No one is a dead giveaway, as of course some of these things can be obtained abroad and some can be purchased while in American and brought back to Europe, but in combination these make for a great American-spotting checklist. If you have others, please feel free to add via a comment! In no particular order:
1. Khaki cargo shorts (this may actually be #1)
3. Flip flops, particularly Reefs or Rainbows
4. Jansport Backpacks
5. NorthFace, Columbia, and Vera Bradley anything
6. Sigg or Nalgene water bottles
7. Athletic shoes worn just out and about the tourist destination of choice (choose your shoes carefully!)
8. Baseball caps, especially turned backwards
9. Screen-printed or college (especially football) T-shirts
10. Abercrombie and Fitch or American Eagle ANYTHING
So if you would like to avoid looking American, avoid these things. This may be difficult for some of you, as your entire wardrobe consists of these items. But it's just fine for me, because I get a good chuckle out of it. All in good fun.