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Old 01.06.2012, 16:18
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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Another easy way to spot (male) Americans is by the (camouflage) shorts they wear. Few Europeans older than 20 wear shorts, especially not baggy shorts, when not on holidays. Jeans and t-shirts are the common look outside of work clothes.
But Simon, how can you even see the camoflage shorts? After all, they're camoflage.
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  #62  
Old 01.06.2012, 16:33
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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Americans have an identifiable way of using their cutlery... I have no idea if you do this but it does look 'strange' to European eyes.

http://www.chow.com/food-news/62024/...k-like-a-brit/
At least you knew what 'cutlery' is - even plastic knives and forks are called 'silverware' in the US
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  #63  
Old 01.06.2012, 17:22
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Hello all. I will be visiting Basel, Lausanne, and Wengen in late June thru mid-July. I have traveled abroad before and I think I know how to avoid being the "ugly American." I know enough not to be loud mouthed, avoid comparing everything to its American counterpart and criticizing all that is local, not demand people speak English, and in general I will appreciate learning about Swiss ways and culture.

I would like to, however, take it to a higher level if possible. How can I avoid being pegged as an American without anyone even talking to me? I realize I shouldn't wear obviously American identifiable clothes like team logo sportswear, shorts with white socks and tennis shoes, or an Aloha print shirt and a camera around my neck. So, what are the subtle things I can avoid wearing or doing? I know I won't be able to pass as a native, but I would like to be able to avoid being instantly tagged as an American. Any hints or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks much.
Don't order ice for your drinks, even if it's 35+ out, and always go for the fizzy water!

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Liechtenstein is a country? I thought it was a deli.



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It's a Principality

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Old 01.06.2012, 17:58
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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Don't order ice for your drinks, even if it's 35+ out, and always go for the fizzy water!
Sadly it's still sometimes quite difficult to get a soft drink served _without_ ice, even when it's straight from the fridge. Well, not difficult per se, but often the default would be with ice, so you have to be careful to ask for it without.

Why anyone wants to put ice in an already ice-cold drink I'll never understand.

As for fizzy water - well, if you're going to pay for water then of course you need the fizzy stuff. Otherwise what would be the point, given that the (free) tap water will be nicer than any bottled stuff you could buy anyway?
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  #65  
Old 01.06.2012, 18:06
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But, why would you want to be something you aren't? OK, you don't want to be rude, and maybe you don't want to label yourself as "tourist" for fear of mugging mentioned earlier, but what the heck, we are who we are.

Just as we can tell who all the Europeans are who visit the US and wear speedos and too tight pants and order drinks without ice .

By the way, I eat my food with left and cut with right - but maybe it is because I am left handed so it was easy for me to learn? I will have to watch my family to see if they switch hands for cutting...

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Why anyone wants to put ice in an already ice-cold drink I'll never understand.
ahh, but it's not quite ice-cold, is it? At least my fridge isn't set to 0°. And the ice will keep it cold longer. Plus, for things like Coke it dilutes the drink, which isn't a bad thing (mmm, Coca Cola...) And, well, we Americans like to just waste energy - hence the ice

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  #66  
Old 01.06.2012, 18:19
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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By the way, I eat my food with left and cut with right - but maybe it is because I am left handed so it was easy for me to learn? I will have to watch my family to see if they switch hands for cutting...
The other giveaway, regardless of hand, is that most Americans _always_ turn the fork upward like a spoon before lifting to mouth. If you're going to make the effort to blend in Euro-style then you could also leave it the way you use it to hold the food you're cutting.

I was taught that the only time it was acceptable to use a fork facing upwards was if you're not using a knife at all, in which case the fork would be held in the right hand and used like a spoon.
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ahh, but it's not quite ice-cold, is it? At least my fridge isn't set to 0°. And the ice will keep it cold longer. Plus, for things like Coke it dilutes the drink, which isn't a bad thing (mmm, Coca Cola...) And, well, we Americans like to just waste energy - hence the ice
Oh, it's not just Americans, believe me. It's become the norm in the UK as well. As it happens, I do have a fridge which is set to 0, or +.5 to be precise. It also has a separate 'cool' drawer which is independently controlled, and which I set to +6C... which is where the cold drinks are kept. Why do you want them so cold that you can't taste them in the first place?

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  #67  
Old 01.06.2012, 18:32
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

and don't ask for ice cubes in your wine......
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  #68  
Old 01.06.2012, 18:39
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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The other giveaway, regardless of hand, is that most Americans _always_ turn the fork upward like a spoon before lifting to mouth. If you're going to make the effort to blend in Euro-style then you could also leave it the way you use it to hold the food you're cutting.

I was taught that the only time it was acceptable to use a fork facing upwards was if you're not using a knife at all, in which case the fork would be held in the right hand and used like a spoon.
If his intention is to pass as a Brit, then this would be o.k. But we, cultivated, continental European people to not play with our food and cutlery and do fancy pancy stuff, like balancing peas on the back of the fork.

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Why do you want them so cold that you can't taste them in the first place?
Coke has to be ice cold. Otherwise it is just a too sweet drink.
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  #69  
Old 01.06.2012, 18:45
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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But, why would you want to be something you aren't? OK, you don't want to be rude, and maybe you don't want to label yourself as "tourist" for fear of mugging mentioned earlier, but what the heck, we are who we are.

Just as we can tell who all the Europeans are who visit the US and wear speedos and too tight pants and order drinks without ice .

By the way, I eat my food with left and cut with right - but maybe it is because I am left handed so it was easy for me to learn? I will have to watch my family to see if they switch hands for cutting...
The speedos are for the Germans and Italians.

No English people wear them, unless your mum put you in them when you were a child.

But then, what am I saying, we are English, not European, so we are not even in this category.

P.S. Ice should only be served with cider on a summer day. Otherwise, no need for it.
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Old 01.06.2012, 18:56
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The speedos are for the Germans and Italians.
Err, I've always worn them

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No English people wear them, unless your mum put you in them when you were a child.
The concept of swimming 'shorts' hadn't even been invented when I was a kid. Trunks, nowadays more normally referred to by the Speedo moniker, were not just the norm, but the only available option.

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But then, what am I saying, we are English, not European, so we are not even in this category.
Bloody expats, can't even integrate with their host nation...

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P.S. Ice should only be served with cider on a summer day. Otherwise, no need for it.
Sacrilege! Burn the heretic!

Like many other drinks (think nearly any cold beer) the only reason to overchill your cider like this is if it's crappy horrible stuff in the first place. Proper cider should be drunk cool, not ice-cold.

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Coke has to be ice cold. Otherwise it is just a too sweet drink.
<Shrugs>

If you don't want a sweet drink, why ask for one in the first place?

Last edited by MusicChick; 01.06.2012 at 21:26. Reason: merging successive posts
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  #71  
Old 01.06.2012, 19:04
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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Err, I've always worn them



The concept of swimming 'shorts' hadn't even been invented when I was a kid. Trunks, nowadays more normally referred to by the Speedo moniker, were not just the norm, but the only available option.


Bloody expats, can't even integrate with their host nation...



Sacrilege! Burn the heretic!

Like many other drinks (think nearly any cold beer) the only reason to overchill your cider like this is if it's crappy horrible stuff in the first place. Proper cider should be drunk cool, not ice-cold.
Generations and geograpic locations I guess.

Get down with it Ace!

I am not sure I have ever ordered a cider and not been offered a glass with ice.

Cornish scrumpy with some ice in the hot sun is the one for me Invevitably my white marks are bigger than yours
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  #72  
Old 01.06.2012, 19:04
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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If you don't want a sweet drink, why ask for one in the first place?
Because Coke light means normal, too sweet shit with horrible tasting artificial sweetener and not, well Coke light. Why nobody ever thought of introducing a reduced sugar coke is beyond me.
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Old 01.06.2012, 19:20
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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Because Coke light means normal, too sweet shit with horrible tasting artificial sweetener and not, well Coke light. Why nobody ever thought of introducing a reduced sugar coke is beyond me.
Err, they did. It's called 'water'.
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Old 01.06.2012, 19:23
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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Because Coke light means normal, too sweet shit with horrible tasting artificial sweetener and not, well Coke light. Why nobody ever thought of introducing a reduced sugar coke is beyond me.
there is coke zero with no sugar at all.
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  #75  
Old 01.06.2012, 19:48
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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there is coke zero with no sugar at all.
That is just Coke Light with a different kind of sweetener. Some say it is the flopped New Coke, some say Coke Zero in the US is what Coke Light is Europe....

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<Shrugs>

If you don't want a sweet drink, why ask for one in the first place?
Because it contains caffeine and sugar.

PS: Did you know that 100g of pop corn contains as much energy as 1 liter of regular coke?

Back to topic: Call the game with the round ball football and not soccer.
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Old 01.06.2012, 21:04
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Why don't you want people to know that you are American? Yes, there are "ugly" Americans and those kinds of people exist in every nationality. However, given the population size of the US and our generally decent wealth, we travel often so you get all kinds. You are obviously intent on being a conscience American, I would prefer you do not hide your nationality or be ashamed of it. We could always use more visible Americans that are culturally aware, it would go a long ways to changing perception of Americans.
This is a perspective I had not thought of. Thanks much for pointing it out. I am not ashamed of being an American tourist, I guess I was just trying to avoid any negative baggage that may accompany that status, at least as much as reasonably possible. But your comment leads me to the thought that just avoiding being the "ugly American" may be sufficient and have the beneficial effects you describe.

I appreciate everyone's comments, including the more tongue-in-cheek ones. It made me chuckle aloud. I am looking forward to our trip more than ever.

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How to avoid looking American? Drop 60 pounds, minimum.

While I appreciate the sentiment, if I were to drop 60, I would weigh in at about 100 pounds. Probably would not be able to do much hiking in that condition!

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And don't replace it with the Canadian one. As soon we spot the Maple Leaf we assume the bag or backback must be owned by a "undercover" American.
Hmmm. I actually did this in the mid 1990s when I spent three weeks on the Continent. Little did I know that my cover was blown!

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I'm sure you'll be fine, if you are thinking already of ways to fit in.

I'd love to hear of your experiences in Switzerland, and whether or not you were spotted .

Hope you enjoy it here, it's not bad at all. And remember to come back to tell us how it went.
I leave the US on June 25. I will report back after July 10.

Thanks all again!

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Yessss, they may do all the efforts they can but at some point, something like ordering a 'Pizza with fat-free crust and extra-cheese' will give them away...
Or the 1 pound hamburger, extra large fries, dessert, and then the diet beverage.

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Obviously, as a short-term visitor, learning conversational German would be a bit of a stretch (unless you are lucky enough to be a natural linguist) but learning one or two phrases in German like "Excuse me, but I don't speak much German. Do you speak English" may come in handy.

Finally, and I may be old fashioned on this, but using the common courtesy phrases (please, thank-you, etc.) in German will also be a plus.
I understand that there is a difference between the spoken Swiss German and Standard German. Is there a resource for Swiss German phrases?

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  #77  
Old 01.06.2012, 21:24
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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Another tip: Americans cross their legs open-style, with the ankle resting near the knee. Europeans cross their legs more closed, with the two knees closer together.
It's true, it's frowned upon to show the bottoms of your shoes to other people, especially in cafes and trains. So, if legs crossed, then at ankle level, or feet facing down.

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please, do tell
Yank walk is pretty royal, slow..We are all fast and neurotic Duracell bunnies, in Europe.

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Footwear, footwear, footwear. Get tan or olive socks and those ugly things:

That made me chuckle. Leggins with no skirts, shorts or dress over your buttocks?

I wouldn't go against one's nature and indentity, no matter of the stereotypes..Just be you.
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  #78  
Old 01.06.2012, 21:27
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

Coming from Phoenix, I will say that three AZ standbys will rat you out immediately:
1) Tevas
2) Nalgenes
3) A natural tan

Living in the desert, it is always warm enough for sandals and you always want to have water with you. I've been in Switzerland for a year and a half and it is still hard to shed those habits. (Well, in the winter, it is easy!) Eventually, I just embraced my Southwestern-ness.

When you visit Switzerland, even in the summer, you will need pants, sweaters, probably even a jacket of some kind. Desert dwellers are not accustomed to layering and it takes some getting used to. The best thing you can bring for hiking is "shants" (the pants that become shorts) because even in the summer it will never be warm enough in the morning.

There is no way to pretend that you speak French and Swiss German, so the best bet is being polite and not assuming that everyone will cater to you in English. They probably will, but don't expect it.

Have a blast!
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Old 01.06.2012, 23:06
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

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At least you knew what 'cutlery' is - even plastic knives and forks are called 'silverware' in the US
Of course I do I'm a Brit - I just live in the US for now. Silverware is exactly that for me. Cutlery made of silver.
The silverware thing confused me when I first got here. We had a BBQ and our guests wife was helping take things to the garden whilst I prepared salads....she asked where the silverware was.... I replied I was not that posh as its only a BBQ we'll just used the normal cutlery.....
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  #80  
Old 02.06.2012, 00:55
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Re: Ways to avoid "looking American"

Hey Guys!

Do you think we have gnawed, chewed, nibbled, munched, manducated, masticated, grinded, eroded this subject to death by now!?
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