Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Being a Stupid American

Queen Liz, where you at girl?

Last night was "Quiz Night" in the Student Union. About 30 of us summer program students sat in teams, answering questions about London, Europe, sports and pop culture in competition for bags of candy and free drink vouchers. I think I was a fair contributer to my team but when we lost by a half a point... I blamed myself.

I just couldn't pull it together and remember David Cameron's first name and worse––I claimed Bart Simpson as the owner of the catch phrase "Cowabunga" when it is apparently more closely associated with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Though, I could argue that its a trick question.)

I played it off with what has become a catch phrase of my own: "But I'm just a stupid American!"

In years past, I used try to get myself out of similar situations by claiming "I'm just a kid!" but I forced myself to give up on that one after my 20th birthday. It was no longer cute, just kind of pathetic.

The truth of the matter is, in a lot of ways, I find I am a bit of a stupid American. I'm in Europe for the first time and I'm truly learning lots of the things I never knew I never knew. (Hey! I just realized, thats what Pocohantas told John Smith when he left England and showed up in the states! Well, at least according to Disney and we can't be sure how historically accurate any of that is. Anyway.. I digress..)

Walking around the streets of London has been a real trip. My head is always turning in every different direction as if I'm having rapid neck spasms. "AHHH! I'm over stimulated!" I've claimed enough times that Chrissy now finishes my sentence.
I do stop for the occasional Spice Girls photo opportunity.

Its just, in Boston, I feel like I know everything. I may call the Citgo Sign "the north star" but in reality, I don't need it anymore because I'm comfortable and aware.

But here, I am new. I'm the girl who can't remember that in this country dollars are pounds, fries are chips, the train is the tube, and no––you do not tip the bartender. I am the girl standing behind Chrissy as she asks the Police officer to kindly point us in the direction of Buckingham Palace when, come to find out, it's no where near where we're standing. I'm the girl who miss places her Oyster Card (equivalent to a Charlie Card) and causes a ruccus when I can't figure out how to purchase a day pass.

"Soo," said the concerned train station employee, "You're uhh.. going into the city on your own then? Brilliant." He smiled weakly and handed me a new ticket.

What he meant was "Good luck, Stupid American."

And good luck is exactly what I'll need. Though this may sound like I'm complaining or at least a bit concerned, I am quite the opposite. I'm happy to be in a new place and learning new things because I'm sure I'll be better for it by the end.

Besides, its really not as bad as I make it sound. After all, they speak english here, unlike in Barcelona where Chrissy and I will be staying in a hostel for two nights. I've always looked fondly on my high school memories of actively refusing to learn Spanish, replying to all of Ms. Gustavson's questions, comments, and pleas for my attention with "Yes, yes, MUYYYY INTERASANTE!" Some how, I imagine, I'm going to have to do a bit better than that when I'm in Spain.

As Bart Simpson would say.... "AY CARUMBA!"
"Buckingham Palace?? You kiddin' me!?"

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