Etiquette School is in session! > "What an interesting assumption."

You don't look American.

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mbenedict:
I used to teach English as a Second Language. The first day of class one my students starts this conversation
Student (very belligerently): What are you?
Me(confused as all get out): What do you mean?
Student: What country are you?
Me: American.
Student: Are you sure?
Me: I was born here, that makes me an American.
Student: You don't look like an American.
Me: What do I look like?
Student: Russian.
It was the strangest assumption I've ever encountered.
 

Alida:
What does an American look like? For that matter, what does a Russian look like? Maybe I'm just dense, but I have never been able to tell nationalities based on appearances.

mbenedict:
I don't think anyone can. An American can look like anything. That's the beauty of the United States. It was just a strange encounter.
I've also had elderly ladies speak to me in Russian and I had to apologize that I didn't understand what they were saying.

MommyPenguin:
I think some countries have a definite "look."  Not so much that you can't be that nationality if you don't have the look, but that if you have the look you are probably of that nationality.  I've had a Russian roommate and several friends, and they all have a certain look to the cheekbones that is distinctive.  I'm sure there are plenty of Russians who *don't* have that look, and many Americans of Russian descent that do (my friends had lived here since childhood but were born in Russia), but it hints in that direction.

That said, America in particular is such a melting pot, that I can't really imagine any possible look that couldn't be American.  While I will often guess, when I see somebody who has very Nigerian features, that they are a recent immigrant, it's not because they *couldn't* be American, but just that the area I lived in had a lot of Nigerian immigrants (rather than Americans of Nigerian descent).  Purely based on immigration trends in the locale.

I could see somebody not looking native to a country that had a low rate of immigration, or a country that's immigration was so recent that there weren't weren't any different-looking natives, but... America, of all countries?

Waltzing Matilda:

--- Quote from: Alida on May 08, 2011, 10:21:25 PM ---What does an American look like? For that matter, what does a Russian look like? Maybe I'm just dense, but I have never been able to tell nationalities based on appearances.

--- End quote ---

Don't be fooled. You can always tell an Australian - they're the ones wearing thongs in the middle of winter  :)

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