Monday, January 28, 2008

Comments on America vs. Europe: What you aren't supposed to say!

An Italian related this joke about Americans to me:

“When the UN distributed this questionnaire:

‘What is your opinion on how to reduce food shortage to the rest of the world?’

The European replied: ‘What is shortage?’

The African replied: ‘What is food?’

The Chinese replied: ‘What is opinion?’

The American replied: ‘What is the rest of the world?’”

He then added:

“Over here in Italy, one thing that does not lack is culture and interest to the "rest of the world"”

A Dutch girl in the states who read this collection of quotes, wrote these observations about the deficiencies of this country:

“Winston,

I was referred to your webpage by a friend of mine who is from Germany. She had sent me one of your articles and I decided to explore further on your web page. I found the article titled " what immigrants and foreigners say about America that you never hear in the U.S. Media" very funny and completely accurate. I am glad that there are people out there who realize that the U.S. is not everything. My friend and I always talk about this type of stuff, and it makes me very happy to see that WE are not the only ones who feel this way and get upset about it. Because we feel we cannot express ourselves fully without getting a strange look or some kind of disagreement. (It is as if we are emotionally in jail.)

…………………

I also, personally, do not like the egotistic, and independent life style that exists here. For Americans, the world is the U.S. and if lucky, Canada and Mexico is included with that. (look at the world cup in baseball... how long have the Americans won that.. oh hold on.. only the U.S. plays in it hahaha {stupid if you ask me}!!!) People in the U.S are so uneducated about life out of the U.S. that I have been asked whether Amsterdam is a country (in which "Holland" is the capital I suppose)!!!! Also, the independent life style is so weird to me. People don't even know their own neighbors here, where is in Europa, we are "taught" to work together. We do know our neighbors, in fact, during World Cups or Euro Cups, a lot of streets put out T.V.'s and couches and chairs and the whole street sits behind that one T.V. with a beer in the hand, enjoying not only the game, but also the company of their neighbors.

I also feel that we do not live to work, but work to live and are not as materialistic as people are in the U.S. I can personally say that as a child I may not have had everything that I wanted, but I did have everything that I needed. In the U.S., most children get what they want so that they will shut up for another week, but often do not get the love, affection, respect and help that they need from their family members( other words, they get what they want, not what they need.)

Unfortunately I'm bounded to the U.S. because of family, how ever, I do hope to be back in Europa within the upcoming 5 years because there is no place like home ;-D

Thanks for being an outlet, and it is good to know that I'm not the only one. I feel a whole lot better already! hahahaha”

A reader from Greece wrote me the following:

“Hello Winston,

My name is ****** and I am from Athens, Greece. I came across your web site while googling trying to find web sites with articles about the differences between Europeans and Americans. I am writing an essay for one of my courses at college and I needed that kind of info. I have to admit that I was hooked up by your articles. Many of the situations that you describe were like a revelation to me. You see, many foreigners including me have a completely different image of every day life in America especially influenced by the various hollywood movies and american tv series. I had never expected that things were so horrible. You know, I also used to hate living in Greece but after what I read about the states I think I changed my mind a little bit. Anyway, the reason i'm writing is first to congratulate you for your courage to write about this stuff and let everyone know that America is not the ideal paradise that everyone imagines. I would be really interested in getting your e-book , I think it would be very helpful for my essay. Do I have to pay anything or can you send it to me for free? By the way, if you happen to know any more good web sites about the cultural and general differences between american and european lifestyles, you would be more than welcome to send them to me.

That's all for now! Thanks for your time and don't give up. There are 200 countries out there, America IS NOT the whole world, unlike many of your countrymen believe. I think if more americans had the opportunity to travel more and see different countries and different lifestyles it would be a very pleasant cultural shock to them and they would start realizing that they should change a lot of things about their lives. That way America would start becoming a better place.

???!!!!”

A man married to a woman of Dutch descent related the couple’s feelings about the US:

“We, like yourself, are just tired of the consumerist lifestyle here in the states. Corporate greed has reached all time highs here, and we are sick of it. We are also tired of the general ignorance of the people here. So many times when my wife tells someone she is Dutch, she gets responses about wooden shoes....and thats if we are lucky. Most people have no idea where it is on a map....... Thank you so much for letting others see that they are not alone in their general disgust with American society and politics.”

A young Asian American female college student that I met while traveling wrote me later:

“I feel like I'm dying in the U.S. because of lack of like-minded people. When I was abroad in Europe 2 summers ago it seemed like people were more willing to go deep……… I find myself constantly questioning why I am dissatsified here. And even though I have many men interested in me here, I can't help but wonder if it would be easier for me to find a "soulmate" or an awesome social life abroad-- from the few times I've travelled I've met amazing men that were able to converse at a deeper emotional and spiritual level than men in the U.S. I don't know if it is a cultural thing, but I hate how disconnected I feel here, and this nagging sense that I'm missing out on life or wasting my youth.”

She also noted:

"Hi Winston,

I was just talking to someone in the newsroom where I work about his trip to Eastern Europe. He mentions that even though the people are poor, they are exceedingly happier than people in the U.S. and that he had to "shut off the sarcasm filter" because he was so floored by their hospitality, kindness, genuity, and innocence. He mentioned that the pace of life was slower and that unlike the U.S., which is task-oriented and focused on time and quality of life materially, they were focused on quality of life socially, and that there was an interconnectedness and contentedness that is missing from the U.S. There wasn't that additional layer of superficiality and deception/mask/distance that you have to deal with in social interactions in the U.S."

On the same discussion forum thread about my site, a German exchange student gave the following classic example of meeting people in the US vs. Europe:

http://reddit.com/info/22ggh/comments

saprian 2 points 6 days ago

My experience here might be specific to the area were I'm staying (when I say US, I technically talk about the state I'm staying in), but I found for example that people in the US don't seem to make friends in classes; I found that pretty weird.

Let me give you an example that I found pretty striking. During my stay here I started to take dance classes. I found if I run into somebody from the class somewhere they would ignore me, not say hello, and in some cases even break eye-contact and all that, unless (!) we had officially been introduced, talked with each other or danced at the class. They treated me like a complete stranger.

When I went home to Germany for a couple of weeks I found a local dance-school and went to one of their practice sessions. On my way home at the train station I run into a couple I had seen at the dance; we hadn't talked, danced or been introduced to each other. We made eye-contact and started talking (and that was 2am at night at a deserted train station) - it was the most natural thing in the world and the conversation was very warm and friendly.”

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