If you’ve ever been an exchange student or an expat, this will be familiar turf for you. We’ve all gotten them, the wide-eyed questions from those who’ve vaguely heard about our country but don’t really know much about it.
You kind of want to give them credit for asking, but you also kind of want to punch them in the face for knowing so very little. But most often you’re so baffled with the kind of question you get, you just patiently explain. That makes you a good citizen and a great ambassador for your country, but years later you sort of wish you could have thought of a cleverer answer.
Well, I’ve had years – decades – to think about some of these answers, so I thought I’d put together a list for you.
Stupid Questions You’ve Been Asked About Your Home Country… and the answers you should have given
Q: Did you ride here on the bus? – from Sweden, in Mississippi, 1983.
A: No, I actually didn’t ride the bus. Where I live, there are no buses, and no cars either. I had to ride here on a reindeer.
Q: Are you from East or West Germany? – from Germany, in Mississippi, 1983.
A: East, of course! I went to a construction site and stole this crane and strung a long rope from it made from my own hair I had cut off and saved every birthday from the age of 5, and in the darkest of night swung back and forth from it a couple of times until I had enough height to catapult myself over that pesky wall. Oh, and I had to kill a border guard while I was at it. And you? Virginia or West Virginia?
Q: You are from Switzerland? So you speak Swedish? – from Switzerland, in the United States.
A: Jawohl! And, contrary to common knowledge, we also all go by the name of Ingrid, not Heidi.
Q: You’re from America? Do you know Dolly Parton? – from the U.S.A., in South Africa, early 1990s
A: No, but back home Michael Jackson usually does my laundry. (Incidentally, this is not such a stupid question; I wish someone would ask me now, because I could honestly say, “She lives right across the street from me!”)
Q: You speak English in Germany, right? Like in the movies, just with an accent?
A: Yes, as soon as we learn how to talk, we speak English with a German accent. This is due to the fact that after World War II, the only movies they would show in Germany were American movies with Nazis in them, so our parents acquired that accent. No one really knows where that strange accent originally came from. There must have been an ancient tribe called “Germans” or something.
Q: Is a vegemite sandwich, uhmm, a blow job? – from Australia, in Canada, 1980s
A: No, a vegemite sandwich is a vegemite sandwich. It is much better than a blow job. Only Australians, of course, have the right taste buds for vegemite sandwiches. Most other people think they taste like, uhm… blow jobs.
Q: You are from Germany? I love German Nazis! – from Germany, in South Africa, circa 1980.
A: [no words]
Q: In your country, do y’all, like, go out on dates? – in Mississippi 1984.
A: No, we don’t go out on dates. That only happens in American high school movies. We also don’t have sex. We are a species that doesn’t procreate at all. For entertainment, girls and boys in our country quiz each other about the capitals of the 50 U.S. states and the Founding Fathers. That is why we know so much more about your country than you do.
Q: Why aren’t you black? – from South Africa, Nashville, current times
A: What? I’m not black anymore?? Nooooo! I HATE this melting pot of yours…
Q: You’re from South Africa? Which COUNTRY in South Africa?
Q: What time does the Black Forest close? – from Germany, Boston, 1980s.
A: The Black Forest closes precisely at 6:00 pm. There are Cuckoo Clocks mounted on poles every 100 meters throughout the entire forest, and at 15 minutes before closing, they all begin to chime so that you can make your exit. If you don’t exit before 6:00 pm, you have to appear the next day at precisely 12:00 pm to receive your punishment, which consists of having to write down 3 pages of “Punctuality is the biggest virtue.”
Q: Can you drink tap water in Germany? – from Germany, in Mexico.
A: No, you really shouldn’t drink the tap water in Germany. If you do, you can catch a thing called Montezuma’s Revenge, which is a really nasty stomach bug that was brought to Europe by the early explorers circumnavigating the globe. Bottled water is safe, though. We source all our bottled water from Latin America and India.
A:No, I really don’t like crab cakes. I only eat at McDonald’s. Every single day. Like all Americans.
Got any more? Please do share!