Last night I was in Clapham, out on the town with some American friends who live south of the river. We were joined by some other American expats that they know, and at one point or another every single one of us said "Man, I hate Americans." We had a lively discussions about which tourists were worst (Germans seem to get a lot of votes), why Americans were so bloody loud, how embarrassing it was to be caught near them on the tube, and essentially "why are they so freaking annoying"?
It's a good question. There were five of us in the group, from all over the US - East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Montana even. All in our late 20s/early 30s, liberal but just so, with family all over the US, we were all a bit overwhelmed by just how obnoxious Americans act when they leave the US. It makes one think, do we act like that at home, and no one notices because we're en masse, or do we just amplify it by having no social graces on our vacations in foreign lands?
The funny thing is, Americans are awesome. We don't take bs, we don't like waiting in lines, and if our Starbucks coffee is wrong we make the barista make it right. These are all virtuous qualities. But somehow, taken out of their natural environment, they grate on the ears and eyes of those accustomed to other cultures. Most tellingly, Western European cultures, while all different, don't grate on each other at all. Okay the English and the French love to hate one another, but sliding between Italy and France and France and Germany doesn't require that much in a mindset or behavior shift. Somehow the Atlantic Ocean divide gives Americans the freedom to say and do and behave how they like, and that's oh so apparent when they come east.
Thinking about it, I don't want Americans to change their ways. Our brash, opinionated, demanding selves make the US a pretty special place. But I would like to extend one little piece of advice to any American - especially groups of 13 year old girls liable to break out in song at any time - for goodness sake, TONE IT DOWN. English people will love you for it.