The Obvious American


Everywhere I go, I feel like people stare at me: on the tram, walking down the streets, waiting in line for the bar bathroom.

I had been told before that Spaniards will stare cause they can tell you’re different, but I didn’t actually think this was true. How can they tell that I’m “fresh off the boat” when I feel like I don’t look that foreign?

It’s pretty obvious that I don’t belong in Spain when I’m walking with a huge group of my study abroad friends and speaking English. Speaking English is kind of a dead giveaway. Also Spaniards don’t seem to travel in packs like the common American teenagers do. So I understand this.

Like last Friday, a large group of study abroad students and I walked in to a local bar and within 15 seconds of our entrance, the United States’s national anthem started to play. It was hilarious. But how did the bartender know that quickly?? It’s like he had a sixth sense or something.

I clearly have an American accent when I speak Spanish, and when I interact with the locals they almost always ask me where I’m from. I know that I have a horrible accent. I’m in the process of getting rid of it, and I acknowledge its existence.

But even when I’m standing alone on the tram, not saying a word, I still get funny looks. They’re never threatening or mean. I’m just not used to people looking at me so much.

I don’t know how they can tell. It’s not like I have a flashing neon American flag sign above my head.

Is it the way I stand? The way I sneeze? Do I have an American aura about me?

I mean I don’t do stupid touristy things ALL the time.


This picture? Oh that’s just me telling my friend how to use my camera at a very popular tourist destination. I guess that’s sort of a stereotypical American thing to do. But like I said, I only do this stuff sometimes.

With time maybe I’ll walk and talk like a Spaniard and people will think I was born and raised in Sevilla. Or maybe I’ll learn to embrace that I’m an Obvious American.


One thought on “The Obvious American

  1. This is such a cool post, I’ve had a similar experience when living in China… locals stare all the time. Eventually you get used to it and start to smile back and even say hello!


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