Where’s Waldo (and other Americanisms)

There are certain things that don’t translate across languages (see “awkward” post). Apparently, Where’s Waldo is one of those things, as the French thought it was necessary to rename him Charlie. Perhaps to be stereotypical American?? Below is my growing list of how, despite all my attempts to be French, that there will always be a bit of the American girl in me. And first of all, I definitely think Waldo is a Waldo, and not a Charlie!

You know you’re American when…

  • Nothing can just be good, it has to be “very good” or “SO good” (or even throw in a few extra superlatives)
  • The first question you ask someone when you meet them is, “So, what do you do?” [note: that’s considered quite rude in France].
  • You drink LOTS of water (and the French don’t at all – see this post)
  • You exercise for fun, and you like it
  • You [like to] connect people. Facebook is a US invention after all. (The French often get a bad rap for being distant. They are a culture that indeed is a “tough nut to crack” as their friendships are rooted in years of schooling and often don’t veer outside. However, when you do get “in” you’re in for life, and it’s that much more rewarding).
  • You’re a loud talker, especially on the phone. (Perhaps one of the most amazing phenomenon I have ever witnessed is how quietly French people are able to talk on the phone (especially in the metro). I mean I’m standing like a sardine right next to them, and I can’t hear them, but the person on the other line clearly does! Must mean the French have good ears too.)

P.S. Speaking of being an American in Paris, check out the amazing sketches that Laura Frankstone did of me last month during her visit. I even liked the “sketchy” (in the best sense of the word) draft, but she just sent over the finals yesterday which are also just as lovely [click image to enlarge]. Makes me feel fabulously French! You can find more of Laura’s work here, and her Boarding Pass feature HERE.


  • You’re on your way today! Have a great trip! Glad you like the sketches—we’ll have to do more when I come back in June! Bon voyage!


    PS Your observations about the differences between the French and Americans are absolutely spot on. Or should I say, so very absolutely spot on? ;D

  • lol, I actually disagree, I think French people are totally capable of talking loudly on cell phones in the metro, RER and everywhere!!

    what is true, is that when someone bothers them, whether it’s a homeless person who might emit a bit of an odor not having showered in a few weeks, or a musician who is playing an out-of-tune violin for pocket change, they are more than willing to loudly exclaim their disgust :)

  • i remember after my first trip to Paris in 1986 on a trip with clasmates, we all came back home saying Ou Est Charlie all the time. it cracked us up. thanks for reminding me of this.

  • This blog entry was “SO” good! I’m fascinated by all the little differences in cultures when I travel. And I loved reading your Water entry. It was funny to read it with my big bottle of water that I take everywhere with me sitting next to me!

  • Great post Anne! I love that the French re-named Waldo Charlie. That said, we Americans are also guilty of this…we re-named Tintin’s dog Milou “Snowy”. :)

  • Haha, what a fabulous post! And spot on too!

    You know you’re Australian when:
    – Every other climate is “cold”.
    – (Same as US) we drink lots of water.
    – Short shorts are uniform-such a faux pas in France, nothing below the knee w/shorts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *