Brits abroad – Are we really as bad as the stereotype?

Most of us are back at work, school or University with the long, cold weeks ahead with exactly zero prospect of jetting off somewhere tropical any time soon.

Most of us are back at work, school or University with the long, cold weeks ahead with exactly zero prospect of jetting off somewhere tropical any time soon. The summer is well and truly over and our national tan has already very much faded.

Yet the memories still linger, but our embarrassment of being ‘Brits abroad’ can be suppressed for at least another 8 months.

The stereotype

The Englishman on holiday is perhaps one of the more grotesque stereotypes. A large beer belly accompanied by a can of Stella and patriotic t-shirt are among the vast amounts of dodgy imagery when it comes to our international labelling. Apparently 14 percent of men pack their home football team’s shirt with jetting off.

We supposedly refuse to attempt the language of the country and instead shout our orders to the bemused waiting staff. We apparently sport visors and Reebok Classics, and barely make it out of our hotel rooms to the off-licence SPAR round the corner of the hotel. Rumour has it we bring with us inspiring literature such as the likes of the Fifty Shades series and Peter Andre’s autobiography.

Being English, we have the luxury that most places we visit will probably have at least one person in the vicinity that speaks our language. Usually if we even attempt any of the local language, we are greeted with our own anyway. So why bother? Well, it looks polite for a start. A Brit trying their hardest to perfect the local tongue is endearing and well-mannered, if a tad humiliating (especially if he’s your father).

Is it fair?

So are we too English when we go abroad? I suppose it is much the same for every country, except the others don’t all have the comfort of knowing their language is learned pretty much internationally.

Okay, so I admit I am guilty of bringing teabags with me when I’m heading off somewhere overseas. However, I must say it’s a shame when I hear of holiday makers snubbing the local cuisine and instead opt for pie and chips at the devastatingly western hotel restaurant.

But are we really as bad as all that? Are we condemned to this stereotype fairly, or is it about as true as a Frenchman wearing onions around his neck whilst flailing a French stick?

Britons are constantly cropping up in the news for behaving badly abroad. Our loutish behaviour has earned us a reputation or two, especially when it comes to getting drunk and arrested for peeing on a foreign police car. Not out of malice, no, but out of drunken stupor that we have all grown accustomed to in the UK. Football fans are famous for getting in trouble abroad for bar brawls or taking their patriotic passion and anger for their beloved team to the streets.

However, Spain, the country most popular with British tourists and expatriates, has seen a significant decrease in arrests, detentions and hospitalisation cases according to the Foreign Office. I must say I wasn’t particularly aware of the British lout when I went there on my holiday this summer.

It’s not all that bad

With many ‘party towns’ cropping up around Europe, it looks like Brits abroad are being conveniently trapped. The more, let’s say, inconvenient travellers among us have the chance to visit places that cater to their ever y need, such as Malia, Kos and who could forget ‘Shagaluf’.

With clubs a plenty and 24-hour MacDonald’s to keep them happy, the ill-mannered Brit abroad is safely free to roam in his element, leaving the rest of us room to repair the damage he’s left in his wake.

Being British abroad shouldn’t be a burden, and we need to set the record straight. We may be awfully stand offish when it comes to attempting a new language, but how does anyone learn in the first place? Just relax, forget your English proper ways and try it out, you might be a secret linguist after all. If not there are always the immortal words of: “je ne comprends pas!”