One of the highlights of any military career is getting sent overseas to a new duty station. It’s a fantastic way for troops to engage a foreign culture, take in the sights, and work one-on-one with our great nation’s allies.
The thing is, no matter how many AFN commercials tell us to blend in with the host nation, Americans will always be Americans. There isn’t a damn thing wrong with that — but, sometimes, we overdo it.
1. Dressing casually
Troops will always dress like they did when they were back home. Even if a cloudy day on some tropical paradise is a bit too chilly for the locals, American troops from the northern states will still be out there drinking in jeans and a t-shirt.
American brand-name clothes are pricey overseas. So, if you see a local wearing blue jeans, they’re probably knock-offs. The nice pair of Levi’s troops picked up at Wal-Mart would cost an arm and a leg in Europe or Asia.
2. Speaking English overseas… loudly
Americans have a leg up on much of the world since, in many countries, it’s customary to learn English as a second language. This is especially true for the younger generations. Because of this, there’s much less of a drive to learn a local language fluently; troops usually just hope the locals speak English.
If someone takes the time to learn the local language outside of a handful of useful sayings, kudos. A large majority of troops don’t bother.
3. Driving instead of taking public transportation
American public transportation isn’t the best in the world. So, many of us rely on driving everywhere we need to go. When Americans are stationed overseas, they often take their car with them instead of relying on local railways or bus systems.
It’s a convenience most Americans grew accustomed to that they’re not willing to give up, even if most things are within walking distance. A troop will either bring their own vehicle or buy one off of a service member rotating back to the States.
4. Flirting with confidence
American troops often talk to locals in nightclubs like they’re expecting a response of, “oh, you’re an American? How exotic!”
Maybe the person they’re interested in likes the cocky American persona. Maybe they’re into shy bookworms they meet at coffee shops. Whatever the case, American troops will always confidently try to figure it out.
5. Only taking in American pop culture
Every country around the world has their own distinct, modern pop culture — their own music, their own cinema, their own arts, etc. They also have American pop culture, which might outshine their own.
You can usually count on locals having seen the latest Marvel movie, heard the Billboard Top 40, and binge-watched everything on Netflix. American troops will probably skip local pop culture. Mostly because it’s probably not in English and subtitles aren’t for everyone.
6. Drinking towns overseas dry
There has been only one time in recorded history that a major city has had all of their alcohol stores run completely dry because of everyone drinking (it was Moscow after WWII). But goddamn do troops come close every first and the fifteenth.
Every nation likes to pretend they hold the title of the “world’s heaviest drinkers.” They obviously haven’t seen what it’s like when an entire unit comes back from Iraq or Afghanistan.