Haters Gonna Hate: The Awkward Expat Conversations 

Since moving to the UK, my American ness has been mostly meet with amusement or curiosity. I explain to a lot of people that I’m from about halfway between New York and Boston, because no one has heard of Connecticut ( kind of like no one in the U.S. has heard of Cumbria. ) I tell them that I like it here (true) but I also miss home (also true) and that what I miss the most is warm towels from the dryer and mixer taps. I try to keep it light, especially with acquaintances or strangers at the pub. I guess I’d been lucky so far in not encountering anyone who really disliked America. Until this weekend. 

The questions started off on the normal route (dryers, mixer taps) but then turned to politics, which is never a good idea at the pub,  so I tried to avoid them and change the subject. I think I speak for most people when I say that no one agrees with 100% of the things their country does and all of their policies. The questioning culminated in him telling me I should be embarrassed to be an American and asking what part of it embarrassed me the most. I was furious, and who wouldn’t be. So I got up and left, as work colleagues were around (mostly Brits) and I didn’t want to make a scene, which is probably what would have happened if I’d started to defend myself. 

I am proud to be an American. I believe in the principles the country was founded on, and the progress we have made and are continuing to make, but I don’t necessarily agree with everything that happens in government, or the entire foreign policy. No one does. And it is really insulting to tell someone they should be embarrassed about their nationality. And it’s not as though his country was perfect either, everyone has room to improve. 

Yes, I believe there are meaningful conversations to be had but they don’t tend to start with insults directed at someone’s heritage. 

Rant over. 

Expats, or world travelers, does this ever happen to you? What have you found is the best way to respond?

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22 Comments Add yours

  1. Rachel says:

    Interesting… I have never come across someone who has been rude to me about my American-ness. The Brits usually poke fun at me, but it is never genuine dislike. That must have been an eye opener! Rant appreciated! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been living here for 8 months, and this is the first incident! Usually it’s a few jokes back and forth, but this took it too far.

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  2. Morag says:

    Every country has it’s trolls. I hope no country is ever measured by their behaviour, they don’t represent us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely not, this was the first experience I had like this in 8 months of living here! I think that’s why I was so shocked!

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  3. thegreyeye says:

    It happened to me in France in a movie hall, and that man without knowing my country told me, we should be ashamed of our country, because we laughed in a funny scene a little loudly (how loud it can be though?). I was furious too, but we left as making a scene always would not help in a foreign soil. And you can see I have pointed out in my french experiences that they need a lot of improvement too. I mean every country needs to do better, and may be some need more than others, but that does not mean someone can say something like this. It proves your inferiority complex and loss of self control over other more capable human beings only ! And guess who should be ashamed of that !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an awful experience! I agree, it reflects pretty poorly on ones own country when one attacks other people’s cultures. It has made me think twice though, before asking questions/making comments that I don’t find offensive but others might!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Downright rude – deserves to be treated with contempt. This person doesn’t represent us – hope it didn’t put you off our country!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course not! Everyone else I’ve met has been great and most questions I get are much more reasonable. It was just an interesting experience, and I was curious if other expats had ever experienced similar.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It bugs me though when people think they can be so offensive to others and get away with it!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Flavia says:

    How rude. Somehow people feel they have the right to say whatever they like and he probably has never even been to the US, who knows… I represent an American Co and work with the Brazilian mkt, sometimes I hear stuff and have to bite my tongue…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha you are right, he said he would never visit the U.S. so I doubt his opinion will ever be changed. Biting the tongue is hard but sometimes people just aren’t worth arguing with!

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  6. This is really rude indeed. sometimes, the best is to answer with humor 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! (Although sometimes that can be tricky). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. LaVagabonde says:

    I’ve lived abroad for over 16 years and something similar happened only once. The person stuck his nose in the air and walked away when he found out I was American. As if his conversation was so fascinating. I was glad he left. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know its not a common occurrence ! Some people are so rude!

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  8. Girl Gone Expat says:

    That is just rude! I think you did the right thing to just walk away. Doesn’t help trying to argue with this type of people … they have already made up their mind. Thankfully I haven’t experienced anything similar here in Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, they’re not worth the time, hopefully I won’t run into him again. Glad to hear you haven’t experienced anything like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Andrea says:

    Ugh. Why are haters usually the most ignorant people? I had a few similar experiences as an expat, though the first and most annoying one was while I was studying abroad in Spain. My run-in was also with a young Brit girl, also a student at the time. She lashed out at me in class about how terrible the education in the US was and how ignorant and stupid everyone was. I think she had had a bad study abroad experience in the US once or something, I don’t remember. I told her that though education in general in the US leaves something to be desired, it’s not exactly smart to generalize about the whole country either. I’ve had a shouting match or two with other Brits, Italians and French, though it’s usually been in good fun. But I’ll never forget the feeling of culpability people dished out while I lived in Spain as a student. It felt like everyone expected me to explain myself and the country as an American. ANNOYING. In my experience, this usually comes from students trying to prove how smart they are. I say this, because as an adult living in Europe, I haven’t had any similar issues. Hating on the US always seems to be so en vogue. No where is perfect, especially where politics is concerned. Being respectful of the foreign language and culture help, but some people are just jerks. Ok, now my rant is over too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, its definitely unfair when people ask you to justify the actions of your country, and frustrating when people have had one experience there that they think gives them the right to rant about it. Luckily most people don’t do that!

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  10. Beachbums1 says:

    How awful to have someone be so rude especially when you’re at a pub with co-workers trying to enjoy yourself. Only two incidences stand out to me during my time living in the UK and Germany. At a quiz pub night in London, a Dutch woman decided to get into a serious conversation about all the problems of Americans and the United States. She was beyond rude with her questions. And when I lived in Germany, one of the other parents in my daughter’s German school asked “Are you embarrassed to have such an idiot for a President?” (it was President Bush in office at the time). I did the same thing you did ~ chose not to engage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Both of those situations sound awful too! I’m not sure what makes people think it’s acceptable to grill / blame people in regards to their country’s politics, especially when every country has its own problems and embarrassing histories. It seems like the best thing to do is not to interact, but I’m still on the lookout for a snappy comeback.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Beachbums1 says:

        Let me know when you think of a snappy comeback 😉

        Like

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