American music follows you everywhere. Pink is played on the same station sqeezed between a Hungarian DJ and some local music, which has similar (though inferior) production values.
Pizza and gelati transcend nationalities.
So do obnoxious drunk people.
Sports hysteria also transcends sport. Crazy wigs are not limited to (American) football.
Never doubt the ability of a hit song to bring people together. "American Boy" is just beginning to climb the charts in the States, but the Hungarians went crazy for it, whereas their English-speaking breathren in the States, Canada, and Australia all were clamoring for some Flo-Rida, chanting "APPLE-BOTTOM JEANS, BOOTS WITH THE FUR."
New York City is practically a mecca. Here, on a coastal town in central Hungary, you can eat at Manhattan Pizza, buy baseball hats with NY emblazed on the front (note: no one will ever buy that you ever bought it in NY, let alone the States), dance at Club NY, and shop at Broadway shoes. New York City inspires so much awe that when I told a drunk Hungarian girl I was from there she felt moved to kiss my entire face, as if I were her savior.
People and things do not look so different in Central Europe. Fashion, with the exception of a few rattails and mullets, is essentially the same. You cannot usually tell who are the tourists, who are the Americans, the Germans, the English, only by the language they speak. The biggest barrier is the language, and if you are in a country whose language is romance-based, you will be fine. All you need to do is look at a menu or a sign.
Speaking of signs, roads are not well marked, only occasionally posted on the side of a building. There are not many traffic lights outside of a major city. There are no big numbers or signs marking national or international highways, though many street signs (no cars allowed, speed limits, etc.) are the same throughout Europe. Pictures, even for ones explaining tanning and nail salon, are frequent. With so many people speaking different languages, this is the easiest way to communicate.
This might possibly be the longest period of time in my life that I will go without turning on my cell phone.
It is comforting to realize that gender behavior stays the same throughout centuries and cultures. Women still want pretty jewelry even if they lived in dark mud palaces in the 9th century, and teenage boys are still rowdy and annoying in a rundown train in sketchy Hungarian towns. It does not mean that they cannot be helpful, just like train security guards can be too eager to help out tourists and get information wrong.
I have seen how global we all are. American media is very insular, and we rarely care about anywhere else, at least not for extended periods of time. In the time that I have been away, we have heard inklings on the BBC of floods across the world, including Cedar Rapids, OH, and earthquakes in Tokyo. We really are screwed. I might live in the US, the dominant country of the universe, but we are not doing so well, as our dollar is now becoming a punchline.
But so far I would not live anywhere else. I like American lingerie, swimwear, music, toilets, doors, and media too much to kiss it goodbye.