Five (non-political) Things Spaniards Say about Americans

It’s been rough lately, hasn’t it? It seems like it’s virtually impossible to turn on the TV or computer and NOT be bombarded with a constant influx of “politics-talk.”

I get it, I really do. This is an important time—not just for the US but for the entire world. It’s good that we have these outlets to discuss, debate, and exchange ideas. The sad thing is, though, that it’s rarely just that. More often than not it’s arguing, insulting, and just down-right mean, personal attacks.

So, just to change things up a bit, I’ve decided to write a post about America and Americans that is not politically charged.

Gasp! Can people still do that?

Why, yes, I think we can!

Below are 5 non-political things I’ve heard about Americans during my time living in Spain.

  • Americans have a child-like sense of wonder. 

Americans in Spain are easy to spot. We wander through the streets, wide-eyed and lost in a sense of wonderment. My friends always laugh at how amazed I am at my surroundings (still… after 4 years). “This church is older than my country!”

It seems like people appreciate this aspect of their American visitors. I’ve even had friends or students admit, “I guess I’ve always just taken these things for granted because I walk by them every day. I never stop to think about them.” Well, let me tell you—I, the American, can’t stop thinking about how “cool” it is to be in a country/ continent with so much history.

  • Americans are loud, but not rude.

It’s something I’ve even commented on. Americans—you can hear us coming a mile away. Yes, we are loud. We are expressive, and we like to share our thoughts and observations, very emphatically, with our friends. Despite this, though, Americans are not known for being “rude.”

In fact, especially in Spain, I’ve been told that Americans are very respectful. We address our teachers or strangers using the “usted” (i.e. formal “you”); we say “please” and “thank you.” We apologize non-stop. We’re always worried about offending someone and we always have something nice to say.

  • Americans just don’t care… (about how we look)

No. We don’t. We really, really don’t. We’ve all seen the People of Wal-Mart website. It’s not as if we are completely ignorant of the fact that we, as a collective group, don’t put as much effort into our looks as Europeans do.

This isn’t something that people comment on in a positive or negative way. It’s simply an observation, and one I will admit, I’m guilty of lending to the perpetuation of. When I first got to Spain, I would go to the grocery store in my sweatpants and hoodie, my hair tousled about and not a single trace of make-up on my face.

Now, I do pull on a pair of jeans and run a brush through my hair. But, ugh… So much effort just to come home after running errands all morning to binge-watch Netflix in bed?

  • Americans are ALWAYS smiling, ALWAYS in a good mood, and very friendly.

 This is something that I hear a lot and always makes me happy. Americans are known for being up-beat. We’re always happy and we’re some of the friendliest people around. We smile at strangers and we engage in small-talk with just about anyone. I’ve had so many people tell me that they genuinely enjoy interacting with Americans because we are very pleasant group of people to be around.

  • Americans are crazy patriotic 

Ok, so maybe this is a little political. But, I don’t mean for it to be. You see, in Spain, people don’t generally hang the Spanish flags in or around their houses. They don’t wear clothes with their flag on them, and, as far as I know, they don’t even have a Spanish Pledge of Allegiance (if they do, I’ve never heard it).

The reasons for this are rooted in Spain’s history. Events in recent Spanish history (i.e. The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939; and the dictatorship that followed, not ending until 1975) are still impacting the society, in some way or another.

But still, I’ve had many of my Spanish friends tell me that the patriotism in the US is something they wish they had in their country. They respect it and think it’s a beautiful thing.

It’s this patriotism that sparks us to all of these “politics-talks.” And, the truth is, it is a good thing! In Spain, people do talk about politics but not nearly as often or with as much zeal as people in the US do. I think it’s good that we live in a country so motivated by loyalty and pride that we care enough to discuss these hot-button issues. I think it’s good that we have hope for our future and we fight for what we believe in.

So, yes, things are rough these days. But, don’t let it discourage you! Remember, although the world may be looking at us now, sitting on the edge of their seats, nervously waiting to see what will happen next, we are still Americans. We are still a fun-loving, pep-filled group. We are still friendly, smiley people with a curiosity and sense of amazement all our own.

And yes, we are patriotic—in some sense of the word or another. We have strong beliefs that go hand-in-hand with our hope for our future and the future of our country. We don’t just sit back silently and let the politicians do what it is politicians do. We take stands and make our voices heard. We fight and argue, but even that is a beautiful trade-mark of our culture. It’s one of the things that makes us, us.

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