Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why Most Americans are Awesome

If you go to Florida during spring break season, you'll find the place flooded with American high school and college kids... They'll be there because they want to relax, and to have fun with their friends.

Likewise, if you backpack around India, you'll bump into thousands of Israelis - who are there, along with their friends, because it's the "normal" thing to do when you finish the army. When a typical Israeli youth tells their parents and friends they're going to India, there is not much surprise... It's almost a right of passage.

Similarly, there are loads of 18 year old brits floating around Thailand and Australia doing a "gap year" before university... it is such an established thing that there are specialist companies that cater to organizing your gap year abroad...

Which brings me to Americans... It is not "normal" for Americans to take a year off and travel around the 3rd world. The only exceptions are for Peace Corps and semester-abroad students... I've bumped into a few semester-abroad students (in India and Thailand), and by and large, they're just like the Israelis - there to get drunk and have a good time....

However, excluding the peace corps and semester abroad students, 90% of the Americans you meet when backpacking are really really cool - for the simple reason that, if they managed to leave America and take all this time off - they probably have a very cool story to tell. These people are not following a trend, are going to get strange questions from their friends/family ("Why do you want to go there? Isn't it dirty and poor?")....

Fair enough, I'm patting myself on the back with this description - but it's true.
It's a oft-repeated quote that only 25% of Americans have passports.... So one could also argue that lots of the boring ones stay at home.

I've met lots of nice Israelis.. but I've met loads and loads of annoying ones too.. 90% of them are in the same boat "Just finished the army, worked for 6 months, travelling in India now as long as my money lasts"... they're travelling the same circuit (specific towns, and even guest-houses that their friends went to before)... They're not in India to be in India, but more in India because it's one of the the cheapest places in the world to have an extended holiday.

It's gotten to the point where I don't even bother asking Israelis where they've been, what they do at home, etc...

The Americans all have different stories..... and it's very fun to find theirs out.

1 comment:

Lil said...

Aren't you alos a brit doing a "gap year"...granted not 18, but still!