I think that it is always interesting and informative to find out what other people think of you. Well, at foreignpolicy.com, Rosa Brooks posted a hilarious article excerpting translations of other governments’ travel warnings for their citizens considering a visit to the United States (I supply the link although it triggers an irritating pop-up subscription request, so be warned.)
So what do our neighbors (officially) think of the land of big, white sneakers and all-you-can-eat?
The Brits are warned that we likely won’t understand their sense of humor. (Come on, we are the main consumer of all their Downton Abbey crap.)
The French are also warned to behave seriously and believe there are lawyers lurking around every corner, rubbing their hands with glee and lying in wait to spring les sexual harassment suits on them. (Well.)
The Germans think we have an unhealthy obsession with pedophilia and that you will be jailed for leaving your child unattended…even for a moment. (I kind of wish that last one were true.)
The Japanese think we are fat and that our country is rife with bedbugs and rabid raccoons. (I think they must be talking about Georgia.)
The Chinese government tells its people that it is important to respect the queue and hold the door for those behind you. (Having been to China, I can say that this warning has made no impression whatsoever on them.)
The Russians, though they think we are a useless bunch of capitalist pigs, are amazed at the cleanliness and wide availability of our public restrooms. (Having never been to Russia, I don’t know about the state of their bathrooms.)
What surprised me is that everyone – across the board – seems to be warned that all Americans carry guns and will shoot you at the slightest provocation. I think I am not living up to their expectations. I see a lot of obnoxious tourists.