They’re from California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and one of them proudly announces he’s from Detroit.

I’ve overheard their conversation or I was forced to hear it, because they’re American and they are LOUD.

One of them -the one from Detroit- is talking to a pretty Slovak girl. I doubt he’s making a very favorable impression, since he’s asking her stuff like ‘what language do they speak in Slovakia?’ Well, at least he’s aware of the fact that people in Slovakia tend to be able to speak.

Whenever I see Americans three things run through my head:

-oh no, am I going to be annoyed by their inevitably loud and vapid conversation? I mean, the last time I overheard a lengthy American conversation they were blaming the Belgian army for never getting involved in anything. Ignoring a string of facts that show the exact opposite. From Belgian involvement in the Korean war to Belgian assistance in the war in Afghanistan… In all fairness, Americans take criticism suprisingly well and they are always the first to mention they have very poor language skills.

-yes! We can strike up a conversation with total strangers! I don’t know what it is about them, but they are extremely easy to approach. I find it very hard to strike up a conversation with people from Flanders, Slovakia or any other European country except Ireland and the UK perhaps. I mean, the typical flemish person has this look ‘I am going to fucking rip you apart if you even dare to approach me’ going on. The very opposite is true about Americans.

-yes times 3!!! I can talk about the American Civil War! Unfortunately, I always get my hopes up, but they rarely know anything about it except what their high school history books taught them, which isn’t much. This bunch was no exception. They did visit Gettysburg (which they found to be a big dissapointment, ‘it’s just a field!’). We talked a little bit about Ron Paul. I was a bit surprised they knew the guy, but hey, now I’m being the cliche ‘cultivated’ European. And we talked about the next presidential elections. They think it will come down to a race between Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush. The two big political families. They think Bush will win, if only for the fact that eight years of democratic rule tends to be followed by a republican rule.

All in all, I’m always glad to spot some Americans on the plane or the bus. You can easily talk to them which makes makes all the waiting a lot less boring. They also always have a go go go attitude, are usually very outgoing, tend to know shit about the world, but, paradoxically, are very inquisitive and eager to learn stuff about other countries.

The bunch of Americans over here have the typical rat race travelling schedule. They are going to visit Bratislava, Vienna, Ljubljana, Bled and Zagreb at a lightning speed. It’ll take them something like a week to visit all these places. I don’t know any Belgian who would travel that way and spend so little time in so many different places.

One of them hasn’t been home in over five years. They all have a happy go lucky attitude about them. That’s also very un-European. When I hear about their plans (one of them is planning to travel to Asia and get a job there) my very European reflex is to go: ‘oh, God, what about your retirement plans?’

That’s the European attitude: think about all the obstacles first, and then usually decide to stay put and not risk anything new. I see that a lot in Flanders and it’s starting to bug the hell out of me.