I wouldn’t trade free water for international respect

As we wind up CR9, it’s finally time for me to evaluate how all the different countries we’ve visited view Americans, and how my own view of Americans has changed. 
Throughout the trip, I often felt judged by people from other countries, although that may have had something to do with the guilt I felt for being a “stupid American”. We as a culture often come off as rude or foolish to other people, as most Americans want to be given exactly what they want when they want it. We expect to be waited on hand and foot because in America, the customer’s always right. On top of that, the majority of Americans never learned another language, which made me feel horrible every time I talked to a local. How rude is it of me to expect someone from another culture to just know my language without even making an attempt to know theirs? Sure, on a lot of levels it’s not my fault: English is a fairly universal language that’s used for international communication, and I can’t help that our school system doesn’t do as good a job of teaching us all another language (plus, my school focused on teaching me the dead language of Latin for 8 years. Thanks, private school). Nevertheless, I felt absolutely horrible every single time I tried to ask a waiter if a pastry had nuts in it and got a confused look in return. No wonder Americans are stereotypically seen as uncultured! 
And on that note, I definitely could feel the heat for being American multiple times over the course of CR9. Waiters were frustrated when we asked to split the check, people were confused when we wanted ice in our drinks, and I often felt icy glares being placed on me when our group talked loudly in the subways. Maybe some of it was my own guilt, but I do think that I better understand now why Americans are seen as inconsiderate. Our culture is a loud and expectant one–the customer is always king, and (especially in the big city) strangers are comfortable striking up surface-level conversations with each other. Maybe Americans are viewed poorly in Europe for a good reason, but I also can’t say I’d give up friendly customer service or the constant amenable chatter on American streets simply to be seen as more respectful by Europeans.