By: Kate Peregrina
I moved from the US to Europe about a year ago to teach English. And after 12 months of eating Spanish omelettes, traveling around Europe, and meeting a ton of unemployed people, I've noticed when I tell anyone I'm from the US, they invariably have questions.
Some are simply curious, while others are outright offensive. But people always have questions. At this point, I have stock answers for most of the ridiculous things strangers ask.
These are the questions and their variants I have to answer most often.
WHY DO YOU HATE CANADIANS?
My answer is always: What are you talking aboot? I love Canadians.
Why they ask it: This question caught me off guard, until I realized most people get their information about US-Canada relations from shows like How I Met Your Mother and South Park, which give off the perception that Americans think Canadians are stupid or inferior. Which, to be fair, the US is better at everything, except maybe friendliness and maple syrup. But Canadians are never the bad guys in American movies or TV shows. Can you even imagine a Bond villain from Vancouver?
Related Questions: What don't you like about Canadians? Why do you think Canada is so terrible? Do you know that some people think Canada is nicer than the United States?
Credit: Flickr/Megan Eaves
THE UNITED STATES, WHAT PART OF ENGLAND IS THAT?
My answer is always: It is no part of England. That's what Christopher Columbus fought for in the War of 1812.
Why they ask it: Some people think because I speak English, I am English. By that logic, every person who speaks Spanish would be from Spain -- and in reality, less than 1/10 of all Spanish-speakers are from Spain.
Just as some of my family and friends back home assume Spaniards eat tacos, play mariachi music, and can't drink their tap water, a lot of people I've met do not know basic differences between the United States and the United Kingdom.
Maybe I just need to meet new people.
Related Questions: How often do you eat fish and chips? England won the football match yesterday, aren't you proud? How close is your city to London?
WHY IS YOUR UNIVERSITY TUITION SO HIGH?
My answer is always: This questions requires such a detailed response, I'll answer with a question of my own: How much time do you have?
Having such a different culture makes it funny to see how high European eyebrows shoot up someone's forehead when I tell them the cost of college tuition in the United States. Their obvious follow-up question is, of course, "Why?"
I still don't entirely know. But it sure is expensive.
Related Questions: Is university (college) a big party in the US? Do people really drink from red cups at parties? Is Harvard the best university in the US?
DO YOU OWN A GUN?
My answer is always: No, I don't have a gun, and have never fired a gun. Yes, I know many people back home who have guns. Yes, I have also heard that (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit...) is a very dangerous city.
Why they ask it: I suppose it's a reasonable thing to ask an American, because so many American households own a gun. The gun debate in the United States is often presented as a 50/50 argument, but it's the only developed country in the world where that is so.
Related Questions: Have you been shot before? Do a lot of people in your city have guns? Do a lot of [insensitive stereotype] people have guns?
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