Stateside folks know the phenomenon: native English speakers from anywhere outside the US get at least thirty extra IQ points when they pass through customs. It doesn’t matter if you’re English, Irish, Aussie, Kiwi, South African: you get smarter, better looking, more persuasive just by being from someplace else.
As a youngster in Western Europe, there was cachet attached to Americans. That’s gone now, for the most part. But in Eastern Europe there are still remnants of the old ways. In Eastern Europe it’s at least a little bit interesting to be American. Why? I’ll guess:
- In the Balkans, at least, there aren’t many American tourists. So when you show up, most people want to know why you’re so interested in the Balkans. Like, actually being interested is a sign that you’re different.
- The US is a big country. When you live in a small country, it makes sense to network with people from big countries. Kind of an insurance policy: I’ve seen Germans, Russians, and the English get the same treatment. (And, actually, I usually get taken for English or German before American.)
- Because it’s so hard to get to the US compared to so many other cool places, relatively few Bulgarians have spent a lot of time in the US. They’re curious.
- An idea left over from the Change (what folks in the States call the Fall of Communism)–that there’s something in the New World that’s working better than the Old World. The desire to associate and learn what works better.
- They have a bit of something to share with an outsider, and they want to try it out. It could be a business idea or a political idea…
…Or they may just want to practice their English.