Unless travellers are willing to leave national prejudices behind them, and ready to see whatever is characteristic and excellent in a foreign country, without finding fault because it is unfamiliar, they had better remain at home. … Americans are among the worst offenders in this regard.
– Mary Cadwalader Jones, European Travels for Women: Notes and Suggestions (1900)
I came across this quote last year while reading Matthew Goodman’s Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World (which, incidentally, I would recommend to just about all readers). Despite its age, I think the quote is just as relevant now – maybe even more so, despite our global interconnectedness.
This quote perfectly encompasses the kind of ethnocentric American I try not to be: the one who says, “that’s weird” instead of “that’s different”; the one who is constantly comparing her host country to her home country in a way that implies the latter is superior.
If you’re going to make the effort to go to a new country, learn to adapt. Not only will it not kill you, but it will make your experiences richer in the long run.