Originally posted by koji_K
What I want to know is, how many Americans here at ATS travel overseas and how much safer do you feel now compared to pre 9/11? Do you feel that you
are safer "at home" than when you are in a foreign country?
Since 9/11 I have traveled to the UK, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. I definitely feel MORE in jeopardy than I did
before, but not because of outright terrorism, but because of the greater possibility for a personal attack because of my nationality. Obviously, what
has happened has not kept me from hoping on a plane and going abroad, but I am more hesitant with being the obvious American overseas. In most places,
I found people that greeted me with respect friendliness that would be given any tourist, and I tried my best to be respectful of the customs and
habits of the folks I met. My time in Spain, however, was a little more obviously anti-american. Lots of graffiti against Bush in particular, and I
overheard plenty of discussions about "americans" and how we try and run the world. The English language news seemed to be a bit more negative when
discussing the USA and it's people. The Spanish were a lot less English language-friendly than other places I have traveled to before and after 9/11
- but hey, I was in SPAIN so any English spoken was a treat.
I always found it interesting that everywhere I've been in the world, I have had no problems getting around and basically living in another country
without speaking the language. So many people overseas speak multiple languages, and welcome the oppourtunity to use their English skills. I wish we
had more of that here, and anyone who masters more than their own language impresses me.
Anyhow - the most welcome I've felt overseas was in two parts of the world where I had least expected it. Egypt, and Palestinian areas in Israel.
Even before 9/11 you heard so much on the news about anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, and it was nice to find exactly the opposite with the
people I experienced. I'm not so sure that has disappeared, and I'd still go back.
As for feeling safer than at home - I live just outside of Washington, DC, so even going downtown for an afternoon feels a little different. I
wouldn't call it fear, it's more of a greater awareness and suspicion. We have had a kind of knee-jerk reaction and gone way overboard on paranoia,
but don't seem to be any more secure. I recently got back from a trip to Florida, and upon unpacking my carry-on, I found a large swiss army knife
that was stuffed in a pocket from a pre-9/11 trip. Walked through screening both down and back and never had a problem. I've had something on my hip
area set off the metal detectors over and over, and after answering that I did not have an artificial hip, the screener shrugged and waved me through.
It's probably as easy as ever for weapons to be walked onto aircraft. Safer? Nah.