One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Amerika in UtrechtAmerika in Utrecht

There’s a travel agent office next to the Oudegracht that does themed window displays, depending on the dream destination being promoted. Kangaroos for Australia, matryoshka dolls for Russia, and so on. In other words, stereotypical visual shorthand. When I saw the window this past weekend, I couldn’t help but stop and stare.

Sure, the American theme caught my eye. A touch of home, though the images depicted aren’t really the America I know best. I’m an East Coast/Southern girl and this window display had a distinctly Western vibe. Still, I couldn’t help looking at this touch of Americana in the heart of Utrecht.

But then I noticed something seemed not quite right. (Besides the whole cowboy/Indian theme which seems a bit off these days, never mind the fact that two of the statues had a distinctly Village People look to them.) What really threw me for a loop was the Georgia licence plate. As much as I love seeing the Georgia tag again, with its delightful peach, it just does not fit in with the rest of the Western display. Georgia is very much east of the Mississippi, unlike Kansas, Texas, and Arizona.

It’s one of those minor things that only someone who has spent a lot of time in the US is going to notice or care about probably, but it still amused me. Even more so when I saw that they were promoting trips to Amerika and Canada. They zeroed in on one very specific theme that barely scratches the surface of the North American continent, but something still got lost in translation, a bit like the rib restaurant flyer we received a few years ago. It’s always interesting to see how your home country is interpreted by others.

Amerika in Utrecht

10 thoughts on “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

  1. LOL probably these things were the only “Americana” things to hand rather than any definite theme idea… I’m guessing that if it “kind of looked the part” then it was a case of “it’ll do” … similar to the OTT volume of Dutch girls winged bonnets and tulips when it came to Dutch “theming” we saw in Pella, Iowa, USA 🙂

    • I’ve never even heard of Pella, Iowa. 😉 But yeah, I did think that any typical “Dutch” display outside the country would probably be the generic cheese, windmills, tulips, and winged bonnets. I think the difference is the sheer size of the US and Canada compared to many other countries. You can end up with drastically different geographies and histories, even within one country.

  2. I suspect that an American travel agency promoting trips to The Netherlands (though I think this little country probably isn’t high enough on the “places to go” list of most Americans for that) is going to resort to putting some clogs, windmills and plastic tulips in their windows. They’re both huge cliches, but they get the message across 🙂

  3. Ha! That’s hilarious, especially because I’ve never met a Dutch person who has expressed any interest in Texas or Oklahoma (my two home states). I’ve found that Dutch people, and Europeans in general, are a lot more interested in NYC and San Francisco than in anything in-between. Oh, and Dutch people appear to like Florida. One person told me he liked it because it’s so cheap (way to uphold that Dutch stereotype!).

    • New York, LA, Chicago … those were the usual three cities people mentioned (at least in Italy) when I said I was from the US. I think lots of Europeans like — or at least visit — Florida, based on my memories of tourists there when I was growing up. Beaches, Disney, warm weather, closer than California. 🙂

  4. Hi Allison,
    Awww, nostalgia! If you look at my latest post you might find a little more – I’ve got some film clips of manatees and gator calling on it. Now that’s America/Florida for sure. Sandy

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