American Tourists

American tourist satire This picture is a mannequin from a church in India, telling you that you’re not allowed to take pictures of anything in this area. I found it so funny that I took a picture of the mannequin anyways, and then got yelled at for taking pictures in the place where you’re not supposed to take any pictures. Oh well, I think it was worth it. But this brings me to thoughts about American tourists around the world. I’ve been abroad without my family twice: once to India on a study abroad summer program, and once to Europe with my roommate from William and Mary, Kenny. And I would like to think that we did not behave like typical American tourists. It comes down to being respectful. In India, its fairly obvious who is a citizen of India and who is a tourist; the color of your skin is usually a pretty good indicator(although not always). But as long as you are willing to try and learn local customs, like when you need to take off your shoes, what hand you’re supposed to eat with, etc., have an open mind about the things you are doing, and don’t make yourself the most important thing, you’re going to be fine. While we were in Mumbai, we walked through a market and then through a poorer neighborhood. However, we looked like we knew what we were doing, didn’t panic, but more importantly, weren’t taking pictures, making loud comments, etc. And we got through just fine, even though it probably wasn’t our smartest decision. The American professor and his wife who came with us had a much harder time getting out of their typical mindsets. They were expecting more of the conveniences of American life to be present. In Europe, I think that its easier to be the “typical American tourist” because the culture is more similar to American culture. And when people don’t find what they expect, they get irate. My way of approaching it is to expect things a lot of things to be different but some to be the same and just roll with the punches. As long as you’re willing to adapt quickly and don’t insist on things being the way they are at home, you’re going to be fine. The whole point of going abroad is to enjoy the ways the things are different from the way they are in your country.