There's nothing like traveling abroad to learn what it means to be American and what being American means to everyone else who is not. I lived in Europe for a year when I was 14, and two unpleasant instances brought the complicated nature of our national identity into sharp relief.
The first happened at a party. After finding out I was American, a young Italian hipster suddenly started attacking me for my country's voracious, imperialist appetite. She cited chapter and verse: interventions in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala.