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Americans are spoiled. All it takes is a little trip somewhere outside the US to wake me up to that fact. Even Europe, although part of the “western world,” does not maintain the level of luxury that you can get in the States. I proudly admit that I like my Skittles, my heavenly array of cooking spices, my long hot showers, and my supermarkets. Each trip I make somewhere reinforces the fact that I like the little conveniences of home.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate cultures besides my own. No, I do not display the “ugly American” syndrome when I travel. I understand that I’ve got it good, but I don’t arrogantly bandy it about. Why should I go to another country and expect people there to speak English, to have air conditioning or running water, or to practice the same level of sanitation? All too often Americans seem to think that they deserve some special treatment, even though it goes against the culture they are visiting.

By all means, travel to other countries. I encourage it. But keep your mind open to the differences, and appreciate them. Then maybe, upon your return, you will make America a better place.