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Thread: Spotting 'Tourists' in Scotland

  1. #1
    Senior Member Resurgam's Avatar
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    Spotting 'Tourists' in Scotland

    I was over in Scotland for a conference this summer and made a day trip into Edinburgh where I got into an isolated situation where I was approached by some panhandlers. When I returned to where I was staying, I remarked to this one man that I wish I hadn't brought my bookbag so I didn't look and feel so much like a tourist. He then says that I couldn't do much about that and "we can usually tell." "Body language, then?" I asked. Again, usually we can just tell. I've read of people saying this same thing across the British Isles, too regarding Americans and other foreigners.

    First of all, when many Americans say they "don't want to look like a tourist," they are not necessarily saying that they able to look like they are native. When I say that I mean that I do not want to look vulnerable and naive enough to be easily exploited. In my experience living in some rundown minority dominated neighborhoods in the US, I got to the point where I would walk through them at night and be left alone. Whereas when somebody who has never spent a lot of time in those environments walks through its almost as if they smell you coming and you might have 10 year old black kids throwing rocks at you.

    Secondly, many Americans like myself know how the world works and have spent time growing up in homogeneous areas and can spot outsiders, too. I also know that there is more than body language and my time on skadi's taxonomy section has refined that knowledge and put some theory behind it.

    Anyways, you could be "not a tourist" but rather be a student or taken up residency in Scotland. All the while one still would not be claiming to be from there.

    My questions to the Scots are this:
    1. Do you always happily point this out to people? Is it assumed Americans are more naive? When I was working in North Carolina a Scottish couple walked through the store and everyone could see you were "different" before you spoke.

    2. Is saying that I don't want to look a tourist sound so presumptuous that people may reflexively remind somebody that they "are not one of us" to put them in their place?

    I'm just trying to figure out the psychology behind stuff like this in Europe. I might have the opportunity to work over in the UK on a short-term assignment for a year or two.

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    Senior Member flâneur's Avatar
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    American tourists can be easily spotted in Scotland because they are the only ones wearing matching nylon tartan his an hers jackets and socks.

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    Senior Member Wulfram's Avatar
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    On my first trip to Europe as a teen, even I could spot American tourists.
    Example: I remember meeting one group from North Carolina that were on a church "youth trip".
    Out of about ten of them, six were wearing 'Hard Rock Cafe - London' t-shirts...while they were in London.

    Typical American tourists can also be seen wearing or purchasing national symbols as a way to not come across like typical American tourists. In Holland they may purchase a bag of tulip bulbs, or a pair of wooden clogs, with tulips painted on them. (I am given to understand that only American tourists buy these)

    Small-town Germanic-Americans, strangely enough, who more resemble old European stock, are the ones that usually stick out the most.
    While those who are from the big cities, who look less like Europeans, tend to fit in more easily.

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    Senior Member Neophyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronan View Post
    Small-town Germanic-Americans, strangely enough, who more resemble old European stock, are the ones that usually stick out the most.
    While those who are from the big cities, who look less like Europeans, tend to fit in more easily.
    Most tourism takes place in large cities, so naturally rural people tend to stick out. However, I can assure you that there are many settings around here in Europe in which rural people from North Dakota or Alabama (or a coal miner from W. Virginia) would fit in much better than the most urbane Bostonian.

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    Senior Member SaxonCeorl's Avatar
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    I did my junior year of college in England and at one point attended a weekend-long international student conference in London. A handful of us went out to a pub one night, and one of the other people in the group was this really giddy American guy from Boston (I think). He kept trying to fit in...was saying "cheers!!" instead of "thank you" with these really strong rhotic r's. I was so embarrassed.

    Nobody ever seemed to notice that I was a foreigner/tourist in large, cosmopolitan places like London and Brighton. The only place people ever asked where I was from was in rural areas where meeting a foreign person isn't something they get to do every day. Everyone was very friendly to me during these situations, and seemed happy that I had come to visit their area.

    By the way, Resurgam, I would jump all over a chance to spend a year or two in Europe. I was there for a year and completely recommend it. Nothing beats the Mother Continent.

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