Americans in Europe

Aug 16th, 2000, 01:02 PM
  #1  
dave
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Americans in Europe

As I continue to read the Europe forum, I get very tired on the ongoing negative comments towards Americans in Europe. I do like an number of things in Europe better than America, but I also like a number of things about America better than Europe. We are all different and should embrace those diffences rather than mock them. Heck, we could all be alike and then what fun would traveling be? If a French person came to Arizona where I live, we would not mock them because they dress like French and not like us. And if they don't speak the language, most people would try to help them rather than be rude or insulted because they didn't learn English before they visited. So why is it that so many people on this forum are so obsessed about not looking like an "American" or with trying to be mistake as a native when they visit? I think more Europeans need to travel outside Europe more and perhaps they would understand better what it is like to travel 2,500 miles from home and visit unknown areas. Americans love to travel and tend to be outgoing and yes even loud. So what? There are things about some Europeans that we don't necessarily like (like body odor, standing too close, lack of tolerance, etc.) but I think if they visited America, they would find a good reception. I know that some American travelers are rude and self-centered, but I can tell you that I have met many Europeans who are also that way (they are just quieter while doing it) - it is just personallities. I suspect that many of the people on this site that express such intolerance are basically that type of personnality and they are intolerant and believe themselves superior in other facets of life.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 01:05 PM
  #2  
Keith
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I find you intolerant of people's intolerance.

That's why this forum's fun--you can say what you want without having to be "PC" all of the time, or worry about what people will think of you. Whoopee! Stop overanalyzing, and go on vacation.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 01:16 PM
  #3  
dave
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Keith: I find you intolerant of my note and a dope to boot. That is the gist of my message - people need to relax about traveling and not be so uptight about fitting in. Sorry if this was to intense for you.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 01:18 PM
  #4  
SharonM
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Thank you Dave!!!
Although I love all the delightfully funny threads in here, my first thought when I saw the title of this one was "oh oh...here we go again. hold on tight!"
Really though, for those that are serious it makes me think "boy...I bet all the non-americans out there are sitting there wondering why americans are so self-absorbed in all this crap anyway?" I have not seen one thread consisting of europeans fretting about this kind of thing. Luckly, the amusement factor outways the serious questioners of self
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 01:26 PM
  #5  
Rachel
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I think what may annoy Europeans about some Americans is how insular they can be. How they know very little about the world outside their own country. Even the US Military posted in Europe live in their own enclosed worlds surrounded by everything American including dollars,shopping centres, ect ect how much they must be missing. Also how they expect everyone to use the dollar and insist on using it wherever they travel. We would never come to the States and expect to be able to use our currencies. Finally, how many Americans think theirs is the best country on earth forgetting the many social problems there. Of course it is important to have a pride in one's country but be realistic. I don't mean to sound unkind but this is my experience. Plus thought I would add this as you made such blanket statements about "smelly", personal space invading, intolerant Europeans.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 01:34 PM
  #6  
dave
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Sharon, you hit it right on the head. Why are some many people focusing on this when there are thousands of other things to plan and worry about on a trip overseas. I think a large part of it is that we do get somewhat of a rough reception in Europe if we don't "fit it" and we are trying to avoid that.

Rachel, I made the European comments somewhat tongue in cheek as an example of why we shouldn't generalize. It is just as wrong to characterize Europeans in this manner as it is to characterize Americans as "ugly Americans". I imagine our European readers took some umbrige when they read that, much as I don't like it when I read the generalizations about my country men.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 01:51 PM
  #7  
SharonM
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my my my...nothing like a little stereo-typing...what happened to individuality? this is no different from any other racial bigotry. funny. I don't recall my EVER doing any of those things you (Rachel) said americans do. I HAVE seen americans act like idiots, but ive also seen the same kind of behavior from those of other countries! I dont like being being labeled. (and yes...sometimes i wear white sneakers and jeans - but wait! Who Cares!)
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 02:23 PM
  #8  
just
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As much as we may like to believe that this theme of "New Barbarians" in the "Old World" is a recent phenomenon, go back and read Mark Twain's classic travel novel, "The Innocents Abroad." Twain knew that America was a country that invented itself and its culture; thus it felt vastly inferior to the countries of Europe which could draw upon centuries of culture, religion, tradition, and sophistication. Most Americans in Twain's time were intimidated by High Art and High Church, but they prized the values of hard work, honesty and kindness. Sound familiar?

Everything that's old is new again.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 02:37 PM
  #9  
Rachel
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Hard work, Honesty and Kindness - Yes such American attributes, obviously you all take a lead from your president...
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 03:06 PM
  #10  
Steve Mueller
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Let's not lose track of Dave's main point - there often seems to be an undercurrent of anti-American sentiment in comments that are posted in these types of European travel forums.

I have colleagues who seem to confuse the fact that they had a great time on their recent European vacation with a conviction that European society is superior to American society in every manner. These same people tend to be the type that are proud that they were once mistaken for a local (before speaking, of course), or that they have never eaten at McDonalds in Paris. For some reason, being perceived as an American is extremely distasteful to this type of individual.

Frankly, there are elements of European society that most Americans would find offensive if they thought about it objectively. An obvious example is the class distinctions implied by the concept of royalty. Brits may be willing to acknowledge that Prince Charles is somehow superior to them because of the circumstances of his birth, but an American would never concede to such a ridiculous notion. Most Americans that were willing to objectively observe European society would not find it difficult to come up with a fairly lengthy list of unnattractive features.

The point is that Americans that thoroughly reject their own culture in favor of "European ways," are as unobjective in their view of Europe as the stereotypical disgruntled American tourist who believes that Europeans can't do anything right.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 04:39 PM
  #11  
Holly
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Rachel: Although he was not removed from office, you will recall that our distinguished president WAS impeached for that.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 07:24 PM
  #12  
Al
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I wonder how many who read this forum have ever been where I am going next month in Europe. A few out-of-the-way places few have ever heard of. Places with names like Neuville-en-Condroz, Margraten, and Hamm. I am going to visit old friends. But those old friends cannot come visit us or you. Europeans cannot profit from listening to their voices. American voices. Why? Because my old friends sleep forever in France, in Holland, and in Luxembourg. Only marble crosses mark their places. No negative comments, please, about my old American friends in Europe.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 10:32 PM
  #13  
Sjoerd
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I think the world would be a lot better if we stopped judging people because they are from country X. Most people would agree that the governments of Iraq and North Korea are not really OK, but I am sure there are many nice Iraqis and North Koreans. So don't blame an individual American/European for something you don't like in America/Europe. There are nice people and a***holes everywhere! Treat and judge people for their individual behaviour.
Dave: there are many more Europeans travelling to other continents than Americans. Go to anywhere in Asia, Africa or South America, and you will meet 10 times as many European tourists as Americans. (we have loooong vacations!) I even think that more Europeans visit the USA than Americans visit Europe.
 
Aug 16th, 2000, 11:08 PM
  #14  
Florence
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As a "smelly French" who has visited Arizona for the first time this year, I have only praise for the way I have been treated there.
I am extremely amused by the obsessions not to look like tourists or Americans some of you express on this forum, since most Europeans couldn't care less. Just have a look in the streets: you'll see all kinds of hot pink or fluorescent green leotards, halter tops, white sneakers, etc. and most of them are not on Americans tourists or on thin 17yrs old.

I've been travelling all around the world, and I've met obnoxious tourists in all shape, dress, language, color and odors. I've been ashamed by many of my compatriots too, and I've met the most wonderful people, Americans among them. I allways enjoy meeting foreigners and comparing our ways of life. I did not think much of some things I saw in Arizona (why so many different kinds of potato chips in supermarkets ?), but there are fare more things that upset me at home (ever had a train and subway strike in the middle of your vacations?).

So just relax, enjoy your vacations, keep looking like tourists so I can help you when I see you stranded in the middle of Geneva with your map held upside down

To Al: we have not forgotten your friends and salute them too whenever we pass them in the French countryside.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 12:56 AM
  #15  
Sheila
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Completely agree with Dave. Why be who you're visiting?

BUT, whilst we should be as proud of where we come from as we choose to be; we should be sensitive to the pride of others in their homeland and not be imperialistic about our countries of origin.

As a European, I have visited the US; and like some things about some of the places I have been very much. I would not hesitate to visit again.

ButI wouldn't want to live there. And that no more makes me a bad person than those from the US who feel that way about here.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 02:13 AM
  #16  
confusius
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A bit of wisdom:

People in general are rude, obnoxious, selfish, etc.

People in particular are nice.

Substitute "people" with "Americans" and you'll get what I mean.

*nods wisely and diverts gaze from everyone's weird looks*
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 03:59 AM
  #17  
Falcon
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I couldn't agree with Dave more.
That said there are things in europe which I find unpleasant but which i would never say to any europeans which i have met over there. For example: cruelty to animals: geese and frogs (France) bulls (Spain), foxes Britain), ...
Reluctance to accept payment by Amex card: Holland, Germany....

I try to respect that these things are part of the culture over there...

 
Aug 17th, 2000, 04:36 AM
  #18  
Exex
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Incident #1: traveling and sharing expenses in England/Wales with two lads from Harvard Law School. One of them consistently embarrased us, loudly calling everyone "buddy," asking why the food carts didn't have "plain old tuna fish sandwiches, for pete's sake," stealing towels from the home-based B&B's (the host from the one near Oxford followed him out and asked for theirs back), sunbathing atop a Henry Moore statue at Cardiff, reaching over any plush restraining ropes at tourist sites. On one occasion, he even made that godawful comment about "saving your butts in WW 2." We could hardly wait to go our separate ways.

Incident #2: German guy and French girl as temporary guests (friends-of-friends in transit) in our U.S. apartment. He smoked unfiltered cigarettes nonstop, eschewed deodorant, and left his dishes in our sink. She complained endlessly about the quality of our food and clothing styles. Both ended up each evening pretty well plotzed on beer or wine or whatever anyone else provided. They loved to sit in sidewalk cafes in Cambridge and regale us with all of America's cultural and political faults. When the bill came, they were happy to let us pay, every time, and expressed contempt when we said we had to get back to our jobs for the afternoon.

There's plenty of oblivious obnoxiousness to go around and sometimes I think it's because a number of people with the time to travel (either way across the Atlantic) are under 30 and still inclined to think etiquette is for other, conventional and boring people.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 10:57 AM
  #19  
steve
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Dave,
Great note....

and for the Europeans, you are welcome again for your freedom.
 
Aug 17th, 2000, 11:49 AM
  #20  
Kavey
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Hello

Only a couple of comments:

Steve Mueller: Americans would never concede to the ridiculous notion of a person being superior due to the circumstaces of their birth? Um, last time I looked the American nation was still fawning over the Kennedy family like there was no tomorrow.

Actually many Europeans do not believe in a monarchy, but personally I do not think I want the american alternative either, a president who is more of a cult head than anything else. I can see many faults with our own system, but remember the royalty are just a figure head these days and a tourist attraction..

As a european I also do not understand the obsession with americans to blend in to such an extent when you visit.

I will not treat someone less well if I notice they are American from their dress or accent, or from any other nation.

The only times when I am ever annoyed with American visitors is when some of them compare everything with Stateside. Of course our London roads are narrower they were built before cars. Many things are better in the States for being newer and shinier and more modern. But many thigs are better here for being older, imbued with an older grace and history.

I am also annoyed when I go away and see SOME of my fellow brits drinking till they can drink no more, demanding brit food and being obnoxious.

My ratehr rambling point is that there are things to be proud of and embarassed of for nationals of every country on earth and the key to being a happy traveller is never to assume your country is better in a blanket way when only comparing one or two things.

I even had a friend who came from US to study in our uni for a year and actually really believed that the rest of the world would rather be americans if they could as america was clearly a better place to be!!!!

Americans, we love MOST of you just the way you are, ESPECIALLY those of you who frequent this board. And I hope you can also see that those few of us brits here also dont follow the stereo type thayt all brits abroad are lager drinking beach bums...

Love
Kavey
 

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