America in the eyes of others

This prompt definitely led me to become very curious about what other people from other countries in the world perceived about the place I call home. First and foremost, throughout my time in Italy, I have been able to visit other countries across Europe along with different areas in Italy. As an American, I have always been curious about how others across the world perceive us. 

Throughout my detours, I have come across a variety of people from so many different places in the world. Meanwhile, meeting new people across my travels I have always kept the question of “What is your opinion on the United States” in the back of my mind. The first interaction that definitely left me with quite an impression was when I went to Florence for the weekend and met a group of Austrialians who were on the same tour as me. After we briefly introduced ourselves the question of “Have you been to the United States before” was brought up and two of the girls said no. Of course promoting California, I encouraged them to go to the US. However, their response was one I didn’t quite expect. They said to me “We’re scared to go to America because you guys have all these shootings. We’re going to get shot up” and laughed. I remember looking at them and just kind’ve giggling without words to say. This was only the first of many interactions from a European to an American about guns that I had yet to encounter. Once again, when in Croatia I had a similar situation. A Swedish girl asked me “Why are Americans so in love with guns? You guys have all these shootings.” That same night a local Croatian asked me the exact same thing. Every single time I was asked this question made me realize that in our current day society, it is common for the US to be perceived this way. It became very common for people to ask me “Why do you guys even need guns in the first place”, “Do people just walk around carrying guns”, “You know if guns are just taken away from everyone, then no one would need them”, “In my country we don’t hear of shootings happening because no one has guns so no one feels the urge to have them.” Honestly it leaves me feeling embarrassed every single time. When speaking to a local italian for this prompt, it was no surprise that one thing they mentioned to dislike was the tragedies that occur in the US due to the gun violence that so oftenly occurs. They spoke with a tone of disappointment as they tried to wrap their minds around the fact that this is “normal” in the United States. I was constantly questioned as to why this happens during the interview and of course I had no words, once again. 

When coming to Italy I knew that I already had the curiosity of what Europeans thought of Americans, I had thought that the biggest perception Europeans had of Amercians had a lot to do with our love for fast food. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely been asked about fast food various times but what will definitely stick with me is the amount of times I have been asked about our challenges with guns. 

One thought on “America in the eyes of others”

  1. Hi Jasmine! I can imagine those were some really difficult conversations, sometimes. I’ve encountered similar perceptions in my travels, too. There’s a lot to reflect on here, which goes even deeper than the question of “guns or no guns?” I’d be interested to hear your opinion about what kind of American values are represented by guns and how those values are different or differently represented in other cultures. Thank you for sharing with us and having some tough conversations!

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