Image via The Sydney Morning Herald

1. European Men in Speedos – If you’ve ever been on a beach in Central/Southern America or in South East Asia, you know what I’m talking about. There’s a difference between American and European men – the length of our swim wear. As you may know, in America, we wear swimming trunks which are really just shorts with built-in underwear. I myself have a trusty pair that comes about 2 inches to the top of my knees. I have never worn speedos before in my life, and unless you’re on the US olympic swim team, I don’t know why you would ever own a pair. European men, on the other hand, will take long walks along the beach in groups with nothing but speedos on, even if they are not really in any shape to wear them. I’ve heard from someone that they wear them because they think it’s absolutely ridiculous to swim in shorts. So basically, they think it’s function over form. Well, they somehow forgot that form affects our beach experience. When I see a group of guys in their functional underwear, it basically means I can’t glance in that general direction of the beach. It can be a scary sight. And it really is mostly the Europeans. I was once going to a boat trip in Hong Kong and didn’t bring my trusty trunks and refused to go into the local shop for fear that there will be nothing but a wall o’ tighty whities. In fact, the locals at this small town had all the latest American swimming trunk wear. I guess David Hasselhoff and his Bay Watch buddies did nothing to convince the Europeans.

2. Japanese, Cameras and the Peace Sign – When a country produces companies such as Sony, Canon, Pasasonic, Sharp, and countless others, you’re bound to have a lot of people who are really into their gadgets. Everywhere they go, they bring the latest the greatest in electronic equipment. I’m not saying that other Asian tourists don’t like taking pictures. It’s just that the Japanese are pioneers (Japanese corporation) of this. Added to the large cameras they hang around their necks, they all seem to love to take pictures with the peace sign. I’m not really sure if there’s a meaning behind that in Japanese or if they know that we Americans know that as the sign for peace. Maybe they just don’t know what else to do with their hands or … if you really think about it, any other number of fingers wouldn’t make much sense and Star Trek took away the Volkin sign from everyone. And lastly, they’ll really take pictures with EVERYTHING. Tell them that it’s a 200 year old statue of the most famous pig in some town, they’ll take pictures with it. A bubble gum wrapper used by the son of an American tv star? Click. A Mexican themepark worker inside a Donald Duck costume? Click, click, click. That reminds me of my last trip to Disneyland. I really wondered if the Japanese had more of a kick taking pictures with Donald or if Donald had more of a kick taking a picture with those wacky tourists.


3. Bright, Loud and Proud Americans – I live right next to Washington DC, which is a major destination for patriotic working class middle Americans. They love to bring their kids to the countries’ capitol and see all the great monuments and statues of our great forefathers. What I’ve noticed though is that Americans love to announce where they’re from by the college/pro team of their home town/state. If you’re from Tennessee, you’re wearing a bright orange Volunteer’s t-shirt. Texas – burnt orange (Longhorns), blue and white (Cowboys). Nebraska – red (Cornhuskers). You never have to ask anyone where they’re from because unless you’re a speedo-wearing German or a camera-totting Japanese, you just have to know your college football teams. I admit it, I’m guilty of wearing my California t-shirt when I go traveling too; I just happen to have a few and they’re comfortable. And yes, that even includes my bright yellow (gold) one. But what does an American family do when it travels abroad? Do they still go all out in their bright colored shirts? It’s one thing to get some small talk in the U.S. about your favorite team from other fans, but you can’t get that abroad because they don’t really watch American football. Do we come off as the obnouxious equivalent of a speedo wearer? Well, to that I say, who cares! It’s what makes us what we are to the rest of the world. I’ll gladly take loud tshirt over loud ass any day on vacation.

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