Mailvox: an American in Europe

A reader visits Italy and discovers that what I’ve been saying about the very distinct European nations is true:

This being my first time in Europe I noticed right away that I had been working with a mental blind spot that I think most/all Americans who have never been abroad are likely suffering under.  Maybe it’s the homogenization of the ethnicities in the US, or maybe just the ubiquitous “we’re all the same” message that we’re fed so much that we notice it no more than the fish notice the water, but I was surprised – more like shocked – at how obvious the ethnic differences were between the European peoples.  We spent a lot of time at major tourist sites, so we were constantly awash in a polyglot.

Besides English I can only speak a smattering of Spanish, but merely identifying the various languages is pretty easy.  I began playing a mental game of “guess the ethnicity” and was surprised at how accurate I became. I would see a family group and try to guess where they were from based on their physical appearance and behavior, before hearing them speak.  It was easy to be right 50%+ of the time after just a few days.

To untraveled Americans, I think the ubiquitous mental image of the European countries is analogous to “states” in the connotative sense, not the denotative one.  Other than the fact that they speak different languages, we picture each of them as being as ethnically diverse as California.  Maybe it’s not true for everyone, but for me at least it was an eye opener to see that I could frequently distinguish between a Frenchman and an Italian even though they likely lived less than 700 miles apart.  In fact the only people I could rarely guess the nationality of correctly were Americans, as I’d frequently assume they were British, German, or Nordic.

I find it quite easy to spot the Americans myself. They tend to be fatter and louder than anyone else, and they are the only ones besides Africans who wear white sneakers. They also have whiter and straighter teeth.

What people living in the USA tend to forget is that their imported nationalities are all watered down now. Virtually no one is pure Irish or Swedish or Italian anymore, and so the US facial features tend to be a little blurred in comparison with the sharper features of their distant Old World cousins. In fact, here one can not infrequently identify what town an individual comes from on the basis of their facial appearance alone.

Of course, given my complicated background, I can very easily pass for anything from Bavaria south. One of my hobbies is explaining my excellent, unaccented English to American tourists in need of assistance.

“Thank you so much. I spent three years studying to be a rodeo clown at the University of Idaho.”

On a tangential note, it’s hard to believe, but the USA is even more cucked than Sweden. Keep that in mind every time you hear people intoning that Europe is doomed. The situation in the USA is worse by nearly every single measure.