I feel like being an American traveling abroad has its pros and cons. This internship has made me more conscious about my personal identity by the way I am treated in public. Mostly, I am seeing my nationality in a different light and how much our culture differs with European culture. In Croatia, it’s great to be American because we can speak English and a good majority of the population can as well. However, people working in the service industry can be very rude to Kristen and I and I am unsure on if it’s the difference in customer service or the fact that we can only speak English. Especially coming from the US, where people are tipped to give quality service, it’s always surprising to me when people are blatantly rude to us. For example, Kristen and I took a trip to Prague last weekend! We sat down at a pub for lunch and the waiter kept asking if we wanted beer. We insisted that we didn’t and he blatantly refused to serve us because of it! This example is more of a cultural difference, but it got Kristen and I to talking about how our lives back home are drastically different than they are abroad. Now, we have kind of gotten accustomed to being treated as a foreigner here and are enjoying our time.
Another thing I have not thought about in a while was my religious identity. I grew up in a semi religious household, but that did not prepare me for Croatia. A large majority of the population is Catholic, so not being Catholic feels odd in this environment. We live close to the cathedral and are always hearing the church bells go off and see people practicing their religion. This just made me aware of how different my practices were compared to the majority of the population.
Overall, I think it’s my American personality and culture that stands out among the crowd and has made me look at my identity in a different light. My religious identity has stood out to me, but obviously people here wouldn’t know the difference on if I was catholic or not.