Much of my first months here were spent trying to figure out how to hide my American-ness and blend in with the Danes. When you are already 100% Northern European, like me, it’s not all that hard… just wear all black and look pretty serious all the time. By now, I’ve pretty much mastered the art of not standing out as an American… until I open my mouth, at least.
Why wouldn’t I want to be recognized as American? Well, if you’ve spent time living in another country, you would know that people in other countries have a spectrum of stereotypes of Americans, not all of them positive. The one that I try to separate myself from the most is the loud, obnoxious, always-in-the-way American that everyone gets so annoyed with. It’s the person who makes you ask, “why are you here? Ugh”.
Of course, Danes who know me know that I am American, but when I talked to others about America, there was always a little sense of shame. After all, there’s so much screwed up in my country. Just look at our political system… to someone like a Dane, it just doesn’t make sense. And then there’s all the poverty and violence… sure, America is riddled with problems. However, in my final stretch of time here in Denmark, as I’ve started to tire of the things that at first seemed so exotic and wonderful, I’ve realized what a pity it is that I was embarrassed of my own country.
The tragedy in Boston shattered my Copenhagen bubble and left me kind of longing to be home. While I’m not from Boston, my father went to graduate school there, and we know people who run the marathon… it’s hard not to feel connected to such an incident. It’s times like these when I am reminded of the strength of America, and how proud I am to be from such a resilient place. We have such an incredible history (I know, there are some dark periods that I’m not so happy about, but every country has those…) full of so much hard work and courage to build a freedom for future generations. I love that America represents freedom, and that the “American dream” requires (sure, not always successfully) lots of hard work and dedication. I am so happy to be from a country of immigrants, where anyone can fit in and make a life. Am I romanticizing America? Yes, a bit, but come on, I think we deserve a little love right now.
And just look at how America bands together in the face of terror… I will never forget hearing about the planes that had crashed in New York when I was not even 10 years old. For the first time, I started to understand the American spirit, one that will not be broken. That spirit has continued to grow in me since… working in America’s capital city last semester definitely made me extremely proud of where I lived. To see all these foreign tourists coming to see and learn about my country? Amazing! Not many countries see such a range of different visitors. Everyone wants to visit America because it is an awesome place! We have so much diversity, both in landscape and in people.
All this is just to express some feelings that I’ve had lately… why shouldn’t I be proud of my country? Being American is nothing to be ashamed of, even though there may be some iffy stereotypes. I am so proud to be an American through and through, and my heart goes out to those affected by the tragedies that have taken place in my home nation lately.