The last four years, living in Paris, France, I tried in vain to fit in. My French vastly improved, my clothes looked more European, and my smile even went on strike. (My smile has happily put down it's picket signs, but thanks for your concern.) None of it mattered, because no matter how hard I tried, I just looked American. Not that I cared, I was proud of it. Most French people I met commented on how much they loved some American TV show or product and they told me that my accent when I spoke French was very charming. My own little plug for tourism in France... they really are very nice, I promise.
Now, after a few months in the United States, we have moved on to Rome, Italy, for another three years. Suddenly, I fit in. Glasses are the ultimate fashion statement (see mine on the left), so I am the latest thing. The Italians also love jewelry, which I love too. Right now I only have my nicest stuff, with real stones. All my crazy, fun jewelry is in a box coming from France. Just wait until the Italians see that bling- they might proclaim me a citizen on the spot. Their clothes are also more relaxed and they wear a lot of black- definitely my style. I'm blond, blue-eyed, with soft features, so I still look American, but at least now I will blend in better and look like I fit in.
Well, now I have certifiable proof that it's working. I was stopped not once, BUT TWICE, by Italian women and asked for directions. I immediately gave myself away by speaking to them in French (neither spoke any English) and I also showed my hand by not knowing where they wanted to go. But this is huge progress, since I don't think I was asked where something was in France for the first two years I lived there. And just one week into our time here- excellent progress so far!