Living in Gijón these past few months has tuned me into an expert in a certain area of study.
Sadly, I am not amazing at preparing Asturian cuisine, nor have a become an excellent Flamanco dancer.
No, what I now excel at is being able to pick out my fellow Americans from among a crowd of Spaniards.
Call it a gift, but I am not lying to you when I say that my know-how is so fine tuned that my identity tracker starts to take affect from as far as 100 away.
Check it out for yourself!
My Super Accurate Step-by-Step “Spot the American” in Gijón Guide
From 100 Ft
The very first thing that screams USA to me is the height and skin tone of the person approaching from a distance. Don’t let Diego’s height fool you! Most Spaniards (men and women) are shorter in comparison to Americans – so if I spy someone tall and lanky I immediately hone it!
Also, many times hair and skin color of the suspect can serve as initial clues to the person’s identity. Does the person being tracked have light hair and/or pinkish undertones to his/her skin?? If so, than it’s possible that we have someone from the US on our hands! (The majority of the native people here have dark brown hair and eyes with an olive skin tone – think Penelope Cruz!)
From 50 ft
The height and skin color of the suspect alone don’t tell the whole story – both Americans and Spanish people can truly come in any size or color :-). However, as the target approaches I being to pay more attention to clothing details. For example, a guy wearing a baseball cap might as well be whistling the Star Spangled Banner.
In addition to hats, typical American clothing items I keep my eye out for are any combination of the following: flip-flops, shorts (especially cargo shorts for boys and Nike Tempo shorts for girls), and high school/college/sorority/fraternity t-shirts and sweat shirts.
Brand names of the clothes are important to keep in mind too! If I run into anyone wearing something from: The North Face, Under Amour, American Eagle, Hollister, Abercrombie, or Vera Bradly I label them American because these stores are non-existent in Spain.
From 25 ft
The potential American is practically upon me now! (So close I can see the “whites of their eyes!) 😉 Now the remaining details of the person begin to fill in. If I’m somehow still not sure if my target is from the USA I inspect him/her for specific behaviors that only us Yanks seem to do consistently – like tote a reusable water bottle. If the person is wearing a backpack, I scan it for accessories like those “mountain climber” clips or mini bottles of hand sanitizer.
Finally, if my target is young girl (whoops, didn’t mean for that to sound creepy!) a tell tale sign of her “American-ness” is that she wears some type of head band or elastic to hold back the fly away hairs from her pony tail 🙂 Gotta love our practicality!
From 0 ft
Now I am so close that I can hear the person speaking. Using English is a “give away” (duh!) – especially American phrases like: “Oh my God!”, “What’s up guys!”, and “Have a nice day!”.
Side note: the first time that Diego visited the US he was surprised that people wished him a “nice day!” every time he left a store. Here it’s customary just to say “hasta luego” – “see you later”.
Lastly, loud laughing and gum chewing, I have noticed, are things we Americans seem to do more than Spaniards and people from other countries.
There you have it! My step by step guide to identifying Americans! 🙂 I love it when I encounter my co-patriots around here, even if I don’t greet them or introduce myself, I always get a kick out of running into people from my own country half way around the globe!