Traveling Abroad as an American in 2017/18

Traveling Abroad as an American in 2017/18
 

Before we began our trip, early on in Trump's presidency, I had some trepidations about telling people that we were from the U.S. I didn't want all my conversations to revolve around Trump and U.S. politics - why not just say we're Canadian to avoid that? Furthermore, I found myself embarrassed that our country had stooped so low to even elect someone like him, a racist, sexist pig. 2017 was the first year I was ashamed to be an American.

I didn't tell people I was from Canada, though. I sucked it up. Lying to strangers about where I'm from wasn't going to make things any better. What can make a difference is being a good representative of your country, be a good traveler, polite and courteous to others, and to show people that not all the American stereotypes are true. We aren't all fat, loud, gun wielding nuts. We don't all fervently support our president. You'd be surprised at how many people around the world think we all love him. So despite my general aversion to talking about politics, I decided to welcome the challenge.

The good news is that I get way more push alerts on my phone about Trump than foreigners asking me about him, 2 or 3 a week at the most. And they are almost always pleasant conversations about how much of a shitbag he is and how we wish Obama was still in office (wasn't he great?). Instead of dominating our conversations, US politics has become a quick and easy vent that puts us in a good mood afterwards. Occasionally people will want to get in the weeds a bit or make a sweeping generalization to get a bit more 'fight' out of us, but I've found that they are more just curious what Americans actually think than trying to get into a heated argument.

We've met very few other Americans over the last 7 months, less than 15 total - our country does not travel very well. We are often the first pair a local has even spoke to since the election. I hope that we have left a good impression in our wake and that perhaps we have given people some new perspective. Our homeland is filled with some wonderful people and we don't all deserve to have our reputation tarnished because of our politics. I fear that the road to recovering our standing around the world will be a long and difficult one, and it is up to U.S. citizens to be model representatives and let their voices be heard come 2018 and 2020.