American sports gear, baseball hats displayed in Europe

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 13, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

A selection of hats to buy in a Vienna, Austria Foot Locker on Oct. 23, 2008.

When traveling big European cities, you’ll likely see more New York Yankees hats than any other. Those hats represent too many things not to be so prevalent.

It is our country’s largest and most culturally present city. The Yankees - despite recent failings - were long a brand of consistent dominance in the sport long considered the most American of games. Their very name - the Yankees - is slang still used by some to refer, mostly playfully, to us. It’s a chance for teenagers in Budapest to seem international and for Swedish seniors to note family relations abroad.

Sean and I took a particular interest in the global politics of sport brands, particularly the baseball hat. We took copious notes on the subject. Those Yankees hats were most popular, but they certainly weren’t alone.

We were about to escape Brussels, which seemed the most European of the big Euro-metropolises we, without seeing a single American sports emblem. Then I spotted the bus driver. He had a Phillies hat, the Philadelphia baseball team on its way to its first World Series championship in nearly 30 years.

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Foreign Perspectives: Phil from Portugal

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 7, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

Phil spoke English with an American deadpan. But don’t mention that to him.

This Portuguese native who was living and working in Hungary when we met him in Budapest told me his English came from U.S. media our country pushes out into the world.

“Conflicting” messages, he told me. One of the many reasons the world is conflicted about the United States.

Watch my interview with Phil below.

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Foreign Perspectives: Thomas from Belgium

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 3, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

Hostels aren’t just for kids.

You can come across people of all ages. We met Thomas and his wife - from Flemish-dominated northern Belgium - in the Aboriginal Hostel in Budapest, Hungary.

He was smart and engaging. Once he found out we were Americans he was eager to talk to us about politics. He is a big supporter of Ron Paul in the upcoming U.S. presidential election and loved talking global politics and economics.

Watch Sean’s interview with him below.

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Foreign Perspectives: Bharath from Bangalore, India

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 27, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

We came across Bharath in a hostel in Budapest, Hungary. We spoke to him early one morning in the Aboringal Hostel’s common room. He compared what he was taught about the United States and the Americans he has met during his travels.

Watch our interview below.

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Foreign Perspectives: Ian from New Zealand

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 21, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

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If you compared Ian Fulguirinas’ trip to ours, it would look like we took the easy way.  Thats because this Kiwi has eschewed conventional transportation and lodging methods to rely solely on hitchhiking and the generosity of others.  In Brussels, my brother Brian was fortunate enough cross paths with Ian when he went Couch Surfing.

On the morning before we left for Paris, we talked to Ian about his thoughts on American politics and why he doesn’t like rugby.

Apologies for the background noise, the Brussels street repair crew decided 8 a.m. was perfect jackhammering time.

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Foreign Perspectives: Mattias from Argentina

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 16, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

What do Maradona and BBQ have in common?

What do Maradona and BBQ have in common?

We first met Mattias after waking up our second morning in Amsterdam. Mattias had just finished a few grueling years of studying while working when he decided to put it all on hold and see the world.  He figured it was now or never, he told us.

We sat down with our new roommate and asked him to answer our questions about his perceptions of America, what all Americans should know about Argentina, and to determine if Americans travel enough.

Listen to our conversation below.

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Weed and prostitutes: a conversation in Amsterdam

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 9, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

In Brussels, Belgium since this afternoon - six hours later here than the U.S. East Coast- but too many good things happening to keep locations straight. We’ll work to do better in the future. Here’s a dispatch from Amsterdam, our last stop.

We meet Sander and Neek at the outskirts of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Sean, his brother Brian, and I are on a bridge demarcating where the sex ends and the large, quiet residences begin. A small, sloping bridge over a small canal, 15-feet wide, on which covered bicycle taxis perch to take drunk tourists back to their hotels.

We’re deciding if one more walk through the alleyways glancing at half-naked women in their rented window brothel doorways would be one too many. Half-naked women tap on the glass under red fluourescent lighting - the most give and take you’ll ever have window shopping. They’ll sleep with you for a little money. This is one half of many people’s Amsterdam.

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English slang: British versus American

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 7, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

Ask your friends who studied abroad in London and want to defend their cultural immersion. You might be, if only for the briefest of hesitations, stunned at the differences in conversational mechanisms between those gosh darn red coat Brits and red blooded Americans.

So, Seany and I decided to investigate beyond those common British stereotypes Seany reminded you of recently. Why? Because we are here to make all of your experiences a bit smoother than ours.

First the London, U.K. phrase, then our rough translations in.. American, at least the urban Mid-Atlantic around Philadelphia.

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The Royal Family: what young Brits think

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 4, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

British Royal family at the Queen’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration November 2007.

There is an international interest in the British Royal Family.

It’s a shame not everyone in the United Kingdom, or in England, or even in London was on board. But of course, this is an age of new traditions, where royalty sounds autocratic, imperial to some. Many of them young Brits, like a handful Sean and I ran into.

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Danger: beware of the sideway z’s

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 4, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

Though we share the same language, Brits and American have a few suttle differences.  Exit signs turn into “Way Out” signs.  Yield becomes “Give Way” and if you ask for a restroom you’ll be met with puzzled looks.  The same goes for the common signage you may be used to.  Wink and I had to do a double take after seeing the following signs:

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