Americans have a stereotype for not knowing much about the world because all they care about is what’s going on in America. I didn’t know about this stereotype until I started traveling internationally and learning about what people from other countries thought about Americans: Americans are ignorant, they’re stupid, their geography knowledge is poor, etc. I recently learned of a statistic that two-thirds of Americans don’t own a passport, which I think might coincide with the “stupid American” stereotype.
After learning of these opinions and stereotypes, I slowly started to realize that I used to be one of the “stupid Americans.” Before I started traveling internationally, I can honestly say I didn’t know that much about the world. Whenever I would read the newspaper, I would only read about what was going on in America. My geography was horrible. And when it came to interacting with foreigners who were visiting America, I wasn’t as welcoming as I should have been. I was a stupid, ignorant American for 25 years, until I started to travel.
Over the last year, I have spoken numerously about how fun and exciting traveling the world is because you see and experience all kinds of amazing things. But I think the best thing about traveling the world is how much you learn about it. You learn about the cultures, the languages, the people, the religions, the history, the economies, and most importantly, where certain countries are located on a map! Sure, you can learn about these things in a book or online, but do you? I know I never did, until now.
I’ve been traveling and living as an expat for over a year now, and because of my new experiences, I no longer feel like a “stupid American.” Over the last year, I’ve learned so much fascinating information about South Korea and the countries I’ve traveled to. I’ve made friends in South Korea, Canada, Cameroon, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, England, Lebanon, and Denmark. I’ve been inspired to become fluent in a second language (i.e. Spanish) after meeting countless expats and travelers who can speak at least one other language besides their own native language. My eyes and mind have been opened up to this fascinating world we live in more than I ever could have imagined.
My curiosity for the world is bigger than it’s ever been, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stop once I move back to America in three weeks. After I’m back in the States, I have no idea when I’m going to be able to travel again, but until that time comes, I plan to keep on learning about the world any way I can: reading the “World” section of the newspaper, watching documentaries, studying a second language, etc. I’m going to keep traveling and keep learning, because I don’t ever want to end up like one of these people: