Originally Posted by Piobaire
This is just pop psychology on my part but here's my take on this: it's self selection in action. The type of American that is likely to backpack in Europe is also the type of American that is also likely to be ashamed to be American because America is so powerful. Basically, more liberal/lefty/flower child/crunchy granola types are both more likely to backpack across Europe and not like US foreign policy so this creates the whole pretending not to be American abroad thing. I'm willing to bet if some creationist Republican kids when backpacking through Europe they would be plastered in Old Glory.
Just a thought.
Probably not that those guys don't travel...just they do and look for different things. If you go to Prague, the dude plastered in american flags might be hanging out with the chavs who have come down for a stag party in an irish pub. Those guys are probably having a great time being the token american with their new drinking buddies. The american-pretenders are probably doing something else.
Although I dunno. I certainly didn't pretend not to be american, and I don't think it matters much to the actual people you meet and hang out with. When you are actually eating with people you meet, they recognize that everyone is different and aren't going to stereotype based on your nationality. I think the only real reason to fake it is more to avoid theft/overcharging and stereotyping from service personnel.
If you are ever so far into the process that you are having to remember canadian holidays and customs, you are past the point where you derive any real benefit from pretending you are canadian. If anything, the people who are ashamed of america should be opening up to the people that they actually have extended conversations with and showing them how their thoughts differ from the stereotypes.