Should you pretend you’re Canadian when you travel? Many do

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FlagFROM CNN — Back in the summer of 1999, along with thousands of other Canadian twenty-somethings, I set out on a post-collegiate backpacking trip through Europe.

While on a train from Munich to Amsterdam, I looked across the aisle and spotted another solo female traveler.

Like me, she had a large Canadian flag sewn to the top of her backpack.

“Where in Canada are you from?” I asked, happy to be sharing the long journey with a fellow poutine eater.

But something wasn’t right.

She began to squirm and wouldn’t look me in the eye.

“Um, Toronto,” she said.

After a bit of interrogation, she came clean.

She was actually from Minnesota — close enough to her northern neighbor that her accent wouldn’t immediately alert suspicion, but far enough away, culturally speaking, that her attempt at deception was doomed to wither beneath the suffocatingly courteous inquiry of a curious Canuck.

Her admission was understandable.

Eight hours is a long time to try to fool a Canadian into thinking you’re one of the tribe.

Ugly Americans a thing of the past?

In 1999, my American train mate’s attempts to deceive were somewhat forgivable.

The U.S. military was hot and heavy in Kosovo. Americans weren’t looked upon favorably in many international quarters.

But do today’s Americans still feel the need to jack the Canadian flag while traveling abroad?

I wouldn’t have thought so.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

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