A Broad Abroad

July 5th, 2011

Good morning! I’m still off in a sort-of undisclosed location, so helping me out today is one of the funniest writers I know, Erin from I’m Gonna Kill Him. If you’re not reading her blog or following her on Twitter, I know you will be after you read this. Thanks, Erin! 

Before I departed for a year abroad in Australia, my father sat me down for a paternalistic lecture about being a well-mannered American girl. Most of his speech went unregistered since I willed myself deaf in an act of self-preservation for fear he was going to delve into the American latex vs. overseas sheepskin condom debate. He concluded his address with an emphatic reminder of the many sectors I represented. “Young lady, you are representing your country. Your state. Your city. Your neighborhood. Your university. Your family.” By the end, I was an emissary for every special interest group in America, including the Native Americans due to the .016% Indian DNA all of us are thought to possess. I took his words to heart, striving to embody American virtues of triumph, honor, democracy, and ‘we have way better television’ in all of my pursuits. When I was challenged by backpackers to swim in crocodile-infested waters, I cemented my survival – on behalf of the USA – by ensuring my competition was severely handicapped by too many nips from the bottle I’d brought along since crocodiles surely prefer log-rolling Peach Schnapps-flavored humans. When the train fare from my university town to the center of Sydney became too costly for my meager student budget, I remained hidden in the train’s bathroom the entire route, ever vigilant not to bring any shame upon my family’s name.

Now that Wendi is embarking on her own summer adventure abroad, I feel I must pass the torch of American decorum that my father set ablaze years ago. It is essential that Wendi  – on behalf of all of us left behind to complain about men in tank tops and how the fuck to cut watermelon – showcase our good will and good taste to the people of Sweden. I believe they’re called Swedeners. I’m not really sure. It’s not Swiss, though. That’s a totally different thing.

Wear Trendy Clothing

Europeans believe Americans wear football jerseys and pants with letters across the ass. Because we do. But when in Stockholm, do as the Stockholm-ian-ites do. Dress in black. Head to toe. Double points for black garb purchased from H&M, although good luck deciphering those size conversion labels or getting a sales attendant to stop texting her boo in order to help you select a dress that you will wear as a shirt.

Embrace the Nomenclature

The names are weird there. You’re going to meet a lot of men named Bjorn. You must override the urge to screech, “Did you invent the baby carrier because even though it gave me scoliosis it was worth it so that I could put on a pair of underwear!”

Do Your Best With the Local Cuisine

There’s a reason Sweden never makes it on to the Michelin-rated lists of International cuisine. That reason is herring. Followed by reindeer meat. The silver lining to their culinary quagmire is that vodka is more available than oxygen. After a few shots, you’ll be Absolut-ly downing anything pickled or doused in lingonberry.

Appear Worldly

As a person who was once maligned by Romans for referring to the Pantheon as the Parthenon (to suffer again for the reverse offense whilst in Greece), I understand that we American philistines can’t be expected to keep the history, customs, phrases, and all the goddamn ruins straight for each European country. Remember when Kristin Cavalleri stated on the final episode of The Hills that she was “moving to Europe.” Not a single country in Europe because, really, who can trifle with details like that? Just Europe. All of it. When confronted with a Swedish landmark or custom you probably should know but don’t, just start enumerating all the tidbits you can remember about other countries, like “Oh right, baklava is in Israel,” or “I called that mountain Interlaken because I was just there enjoying some après-ski.”  You’re a well traveled American blonde; They’ll think you’re a Hilton. 

Appear Politically Provocative

Europeans love to berate our Puritanical views, particularly vis-a-vis our politicians. To prove that you’re no prude, whip out your phone and tell them you were so unfazed by Representative Weiner’s genitals that you made them your screen saver!

Prove Your Fealty To Ikea

Sweden needs to know how deep our love runs for their economical furniture darling. You must freight every Ikea coffee table and storage center you’ve ever purchased to their most crowded city square where you will unpack it, flinging spare rubber screws at passersby, and beg a local to translate the assembly instructions.

Don’t Call Their Money ‘Play Money’

Europeans find it offensive when we dismissively regard their coins of various sizes and bills of vibrant pastels as fake. We only do this to delude ourselves into believing the inordinate sum spent on leather jackets and hand-blown vases isn’t actually coming out of our debit account. Avoid characterizing the Swedish currency as play, fake, pretend, or Monopoly. But ‘Pretty Magic Money” is completely acceptable.

Your Loaded Gun

If you’re having difficulty finding areas of affinity with the natives, just remember, every nationality hates the French. And George W. Bush.

Safe travels, Wendi. And remember: You are representing your country. Your state. Your city. Your neighborhood. Your blog. Your PTA. Your soccer teams. Your matinee movie enthusiasts. Your Somoan crossing guard.

And your cat.

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized


Add your own

  • 1. Alison@Mama Wants This  |  July 5th, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Erin is brilliant!

    The last one, ‘Loaded Gun’- is my favorite! You truly outdid yourself here Erin :)

    Safe and fun travels Wendi!

  • 2. Helene  |  July 5th, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Wow, amazing how well you know the Swedes ;)

    But when in Sweden you should definitely try the Swedish meatballs with some lingonberry preserve! Best part of the Ikea-trip here in Norway anyway :)

    Of course, if you’re not into eating local cuisine, there is plenty of international restaurants in “Gamla Stan”. Or if you consider wine as a meal I can highly recommend a bottle of white by the sea. My favourite spot was a small outdoor-bistro on one of the smaller islands connected to downtown Stockholm.

    Do enjoy your stay. And keep tweeting Wendy, love experiencing my neighboor-country through your eyes :)

  • 3. Stasha  |  July 5th, 2011 at 1:48 am

    What can possibly be better then Erin giving advice to Wendi? Hope that if Erin ever leaves her backyard again Wendi guest posts at hers. You girls…

  • 4. Invader_Stu  |  July 5th, 2011 at 4:22 am

    This is useful for me as well because I’m thinking of going to Stockholm too later this year. To be safe I will tell everyone I meet there that I do not know Wendi… you know, just in case something goes ‘wrong’

  • 5. hokgardner  |  July 5th, 2011 at 6:28 am

    If Wendi follows this advice, I predict the Swedeners-ites-ish will begin bombing us in 3 . . 2 . . 1.

  • 6. Ann  |  July 5th, 2011 at 7:03 am

    I love to apres ski!

    I also love this post!

  • 7. Becky  |  July 5th, 2011 at 7:18 am

    I hope Wendi left her “PTA Bitch” emblazoned sweatpants at home this time.

  • 8. Kid Id  |  July 5th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Also, never wear sneakers (a.k.a., tennis shoes) in any part of Europe. Silly tourist Americans, wearing their gym clothes on the street!

  • 9. Alexandra  |  July 5th, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Oh my gawd, she is so great.

    Yes, I an see her doing this, esp. the “play money.”

    I love you two.

  • 10. Diane  |  July 5th, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Your delightful post made we want to go to Europe too. Thanks for the great advice!

  • 11. dusty earth mother  |  July 5th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Exquisite, Erin. And please give me a tutorial on how to cut watermelon. I am so lost.

  • 12. MommaKiss  |  July 5th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Erin, please – you know you didn’t really go to Australia, it was simply a trip down south to Florida. Worldly. Sheesh.

    You know I jest, and here’s hoping your advice to our lovely Wendi is taken to heart. Especially about the French.

  • 13. Suzy  |  July 5th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Here’s my question for bloggers from an “undisclosed location.” Do you think you’re Lady Gaga and people will flock to where you are to get a glimpse of you?


  • 14. What We’re Reading &hellip  |  July 5th, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    [...] found interesting to check out.HUMOR Erin from I’m Gonna Kill Him visits Wendi Aarons: A Broad AbroadScary Mommy: Peanut Butter and JellyNEWS Babble: Breastfeeding Showdown on a Detroit Bus Getting [...]

  • 15. Marinka  |  July 6th, 2011 at 2:45 am

    Love this.

    Except, shockingly “everyone hates the French” doesn’t apply in France. Weird.

  • 16. When a Broad Goes Abroad &hellip  |  July 6th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    [...] ounces of Pert Plus into a 3 oz clear container.  I am so thrilled to have been given the keys to Wendi Aarons place even if I must surrender them once she has had her fill of [...]

  • 17. Andrea P.  |  July 6th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    How the hell do you cut watermelon? And canteloupe? Honeydew? Help?!!?

  • 18. Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him  |  July 6th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    This girl sounds unstable. I don’t like her.

  • 19. I'm So Fancy  |  July 7th, 2011 at 12:34 am

    One more: don’t smile incessantly. It marks you. But yes on the smoking gun!!!

  • 20. From Belgium  |  July 7th, 2011 at 6:42 am

    tsk tsk, you crrazie Amerrikans, vill you neve learrn to be-ave…

  • 21. Crystal  |  July 7th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I’ve only traveled abroad one time, and that was with a group to London on spring break. We screamed “tourist”! But I’m totally ok with that…the natives stayed FAR AWAY from us!! Erin, you never disappoint….that’s why I’m plotting my escape from my prison and you and I are going to run off together to a magical happy island…without the brude of children!

  • 22. Rebecca Grace  |  July 7th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    …okay, but she needs to try some gjetost cheese before she writes off Scandinavian food altogether.

    I would also amend “everyone hates the French” to “everyone either loves OR hates the French.” No one is indifferent to the French, but there are just as many hopeless francophiles as anti-French.

  • 23. sparkling74  |  July 8th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Yep, you’ve nailed that one right on the head. Awesome advice! And yes, Sweden and Switzerland are very different countries. Never call a Swiss a Swede or a Swede a Swiss.

  • 24. Meg at the Members Lounge  |  July 8th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I really like the vodka part, the booze usually makes up for lack of good eats! And I always bring a scarf and drape it artfully over myself when I start to feel like I’m looking too touristy. Good advice!

  • 25. Saturday Six #67 | Misadv&hellip  |  July 9th, 2011 at 6:02 am

    [...] laughed out loud when I read guest-poster Erin of I’m Gonna Kill Him’s post “a broad abroad.”  I think any of my travel or expat friends can totally appreciate the humor in this [...]

  • 26. julie gardner  |  July 9th, 2011 at 10:50 am

    “We have better television” is my FAVORITE American virtue.

    And now, I’m off to ask my dad if he prefers American latex or overseas sheepskin condoms.

    Because that’s information I need to know before I die. Or kill myself.

    (you slay me, lady. this was hy-sterical!)

  • 27. Poppy  |  July 11th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Apparently you turned to writing because your spacial recognition skills suck, how do you not know how to cut a watermelon? Too bad they don’t replace that portion of the PSAT with a pop culture section because the way you pulled that Kristin Cavallari fact out of your ass should make you a National Merit Scholar.

  • 28. Traci  |  July 11th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Mmmm, Lingonberry. I wonder if the Swedish meatballs at the IKEA there are really all that novel. I guess it would be like getting a grilled cheese sandwich over here.

  • 29. Tonya  |  July 12th, 2011 at 10:36 am

    You are a travelers’ Guru!!! This is the most awesome advice EVER!!

  • 30. Kelley  |  July 13th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    This was so good! Loved the image of the H&M girl talking on her phone to her boo.

  • 31. The Flying Chalupa  |  July 18th, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I actually do remember when Kristin Cavalleri said that. Man, I miss “The Hills.”

    And Erin, you are the emissary of hilarity! Way to represent.

  • 32. When a Broad Goes Abroad &hellip  |  March 22nd, 2012 at 9:52 am

    [...] ounces of Pert Plus into a 3 oz clear container.  I am so thrilled to have been given the keys to Wendi Aarons place even if I must surrender them once she has had her fill of [...]

  • 33. GrandeMocha  |  July 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Loved the travel tips!

  • 34. Tracy Beckerman  |  July 15th, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Awesome list. The only thing you forgot to mention was Swedish Fish. My kids love them and I’m sure the Swedes would be honored to know how happy it makes us American Moms to give our kids a box full of something named after Sweden that will simultaneously rot our kids’ teeth AND pull their fillings out and braces off.

  • 35. Saturday Six #67 - Misadv&hellip  |  March 19th, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    [...] laughed out loud when I read guest-poster Erin of I’m Gonna Kill Him’s post “a broad abroad.”  I think any of my travel or expat friends can totally appreciate the humor in this [...]

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