All of my conversations are about Yankees… // Todos mis conversaciónes tratan de yanquis…

…and no, I´m not talking about the baseball team.

It´s hard to escape the fact that yes, I am an American citizen, born and bred. But it´s never come to my attention so frequently and forcibly as in the three years or so that I spent in Spain. I don´t confront the scrutiny as much as I think I would in a smaller village or out in the country since, hello, I live in the capital city of a modern country, and many of the big city dwellers have made it across the pond to visit my homeland. So they can relate. But nonetheless, I still find myself constantly defining and redefining what I am and how it relates to my native culture, all the while trying to stave off typical comments from the typical Spaniards about how the typical United States citizen typically acts.

There are some people here that are obsessed with the American culture. I have met more than a few who would drop their current lives here to have a shot at living and working in the United States. I don´t know what it is that makes them want to live there so badly – if it´s the big cties, big cars, big houses, expansive stretches of land, outrageous selection of restaurants, or the fact that capitalism, despite its many negative aspects, allows people by its very nature to succeed and live fabulously and successfully, creating a potentially more comfortable level of income than in other more socialized countries? But on the other hand, there are throngs of people ready in the wings to try and make me feel bad about who I am, what my forefathers did, or how America’s politics and international behavior in general is ruining everything globally.

So what does it mean to be an American in Spain (or abroad, in general?)

I want to know your opinions. Leave a comment about your experiences how you were treated, or are currently being treated, as an American ex-pat. Anecdotes requested, criticisms accepted, rude comments discouraged, however, all opinions welcomes.


2 thoughts on “All of my conversations are about Yankees… // Todos mis conversaciónes tratan de yanquis…

  1. My Rachel,

    Oh, I’m so delighted you posted this. (And asked for responses!) As you know, you and I both experienced Spain at the same time more or less, although you for a much greater period. We fortunately went through a lot together simultaneously, and it was always amazing being able to call you and tell you the crazy shit I had seen, or vice versa.

    You also know I have lived in Germany now for almost 1.5 years, and this has made me realize a lot of things.
    First, not all Europeans hate Americans. I initially understood that to be the opposite until I moved here and made friends. In Spain I can say that honestly I had maybe 3 real friends, realll Spanish friends. To the rest, even my roommates with whom I worked and lived, I was the “tontita rubia americana” for the entire length of my stay. People did not respect me, or care to listen to what I had to say. I was shit on at work solely based on the fact that I was American. Then, there were the far and few between that do not hate America and as you say, wholeheartedly wish they could have a life there.

    Example A – Fran. Fran, who now is dating an American and went to America this past summer, almost 2 years ago accused me that Americans are racist. This coming from someone whose only experiences of “America” came from TV shows or internet. Not to mention the fact that hello, look at your only little history. Slavery was in a sense still happening in the 60’s in Spain! To his remark about us being racist I simply replied – “No where in America will someone stop and yell at you for not speaking English.” And its true, as fucked up as America may be, we also accept everyone and anyone, our country is made up of immigrants.

    I don’t know whether many Spaniard’s hatred comes from insecurity or pure envy, or probably even a mixture of the two, but either way it is a shame. There is also the fact that immigration is a fairly new concept in Spain. Chinese, Romanians, Hungarians are also disrespected. Perhaps in 10 years things will be different. Or not. Who knows. In any case, Rachel, the important thing is that you lived there, on your own, for 3+ years and fought that every day, making you the stronger, wiser person. I am really proud of you, because its not easy living in a place where the general population will not give you the time of day. I also miss you lots, and sharing a toilet for puking in Ego.


  2. I’ve had this bookmarked to reply to for some time now…oops. Anyways, I lived in big city Spain (Barcelona) and small town(ish) Spain (El Bierzo). (Lived in a mini-city, worked in a small town). I found that in Barna, people were much more accepting of my being American. In Ponferrada, where people hadn’t had the opportunity to interact with as many foreigners, sometimes it was cool that I was American, and other times it was something to use against me…”You just think that because you’re American,” “You Americans do things stupidly,” etc. And everywhere I was badgered with questions about American politics, typically because they disagreed with the state of affairs (I lived in Barna during the primaries in 2008). Oh, and our eating habits were a frequent subject (“You sure don’t eat much for an American”).

    I definitely think there are biases against Americans in Spain. Certainly not everyone has them, and even the people who do, in my experience, don’t always have them. It was rough at times, but generally speaking, people didn’t treat me poorly.


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