You're probably familiar with the expression "Ugly American," a pejorative and stereotypical term for US expatriates who alienate the locals with their loud and disrespectful behaviourmuses Maria Foley, a Canadian repatriate who proposes retiring the expression "Ugly American" (a pejorative and stereotypical term for US expatriates who alienate the locals), and suggests replacing it with Ugly Expat.
It comes from the 1958 book The Ugly American, a cautionary tale that tells the story of corrupt and ethnocentric American bureaucrats in Southeast Asia.Read the rest to learn the 12-step programme to become an Ugly Expat…
One of the characters in the book characterizes Ugly Americans like this:
"A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They're loud and ostentatious."
Ugliness: it's not just for Americans anymore
This being the age of globalization,
it seems unfair to single out Americans as the champions of boorish behaviour abroad. In the spirit of inclusiveness, I'd like to propose we retire the expression Ugly American and replace it with Ugly Expat. Cultural disrespect is an equal opportunity sport, after all — one the entire world is eager to play.
Not all Ugly Expats are arrogant and ignorant (although that's the most dangerous combination); some give off the ugly vibe because they're paralyzed by fear and unsure of how to behave. Some merely lack the ability to translate their good intentions into culturally-appropriate actions.You, too, can be an Ugly Expat!
Some expats come by their ugliness naturally. For those who have to work at it, here's a handy 12-step programme. I've tested out a couple of these myself (all in the name of research, of course!) and can pretty much guarantee their effectiveness. If you start at #1 and repeat as needed, you'll be an Ugly Expat in no time.