Americans Living in Europe?

Jan 23rd, 2008, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Gruezi, I agree that the owner's comment was unprofessional.

But do you interpret that comment about an administration that is, by your own admission, only supported by 30% of the population, as "anti-American"?
Zerlina is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 09:51 AM
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Hi Gruezi,

I don't think you've opened up a can of worms at all. In fact, you are addressing an issue that I hope I can explain properly.

The Swiss (and Europeans in general) read about US politics everyday in the paper. EVERY DAY! US international politics and US financial problems effect Europeans directly or indirectly. We care deeply what happens in the US. We know we can't vote but we sure can hope. And that is what the hotel owner was expressing: hope for a better future.

The Swiss do not consider it inappropriate to talk about politics, national or international.

I'm sorry you felt the owner was wrong but he acted as most Swiss would have done: with honesty. He didn't mean any harm by it at all and wouldn't have said if he had known it would bother you so.

Most Europeans think Bush is incompetent and are under the assumption that most Americans feel the same way.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 09:53 AM
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Well, we experience comments like that all the time here in Europe and we never did in America....

so, maybe anti-American is a bit strong and maybe lack of manners or sensitivity would be a better term.

Last night I went to my daughter's parent teacher conference and shared with her teacher that the last months study of the American Revolution was a bit tough on her, and she'd gotten some tough ribbing from a few of her peers. He said, "well, I did my best to let them see both sides of the debate." (He is British.) I thought the debate was over 200+ years ago

I've mentioned on Fodor's before that he chose my daughter to represent Irag in the Mock UN.

Next topic is energy and she will have to represent some form of energy at a fair. I asked, "please can you not give her oil?" I can just imagine that scenario...

gruezi is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 10:14 AM
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< anti-Americanism on this board as I get hit with so much of it in my daily life, as do my children.

Wow, we have been in Europe for 16 months and have not run into ANY Anti-Americanism. My daughter is in school here in the winter ( small village in Spain/2nd winter) and we travel seven months of the year around Europe.

We have run into a little anti-bush comments from time to time ( no worse than the States! ) but we never voted for him or the war or crazy policies, so agree with the majority of the world on his affect.

So that has never bothered us and we find it MUCH milder than the negative bush comments that we heard in the U.S. Even those who voted for bush, seem to be very anti bush these days at home.

No business person in Europe has ever brought this topic up. That would seem strange.

We have found nothing but wonderfully friendly & welcoming people. Even those who hate bush, do not hate Americans.

I am really surprised by your comments.
WTnow is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 10:19 AM
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Good point. Are anti-Bush comments automatically anti-American comments? Europeans don't think so.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 11:04 AM
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If anti-Bush comments are "anti-American," then 90% of the people I know are "anti-American." And I live in America, surrounded by Americans.

It's not remotely "anti-American" to express displeasure with the current president. The majority of Americans have some displeasure with the current president, for crying out loud. It doesn't make them anti-American, it means they're paying attention.

I don't really understand what was "shocking" or "offensive" about the comment in question, but I guess someone who is ultra-sensitive to any criticism of government figures could be offended. I don't get it though. As WTNow said, I hear much worse comments every day in the US.
cheryllj is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 11:06 AM
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How lucky for you.

Our experience has been different - my children attend International Schools not local Swiss schools so we are really surrounded by an International community.

gruezi is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 11:27 AM
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Before this thread goes off in the wrong direction, as I feared it might, can I please clarify that I never said the hotel owner's comment was anti-American. I said it was unprofessional and that we were surprised by it.

I said my family (my 13-year-old in particular) has dealt with anti-Americanism here and that I am sensitive to it on Fodor's. So, yes, we are sensitive because we were shocked and surprised by some of it. I think we were naive before we moved. We are collectively developing thicker skins.

Schuler - most of what we have experienced as negative has had nothing to do with Swiss people. As I said we are more involved in an international community because of the school situation. I think you know from my other posts that I have nothing but positive things to say about our "Swiss" experience and often we discuss how welcome and supported we have felt in this country.

I don't care what people think about Bush - I just don't need my ear continuously bent about him just because I happen to be an available American. Sometimes I just want to have a meeting or a cup of tea without talking about Bush or other peoples interpretations of what they think it means to be American. I don't start these discussions - I wouldn't at home, and I certainly wouldn't in Europe.

I hope I've explained myself.

Anti-Bush does not equal Anti-American.

Everyone's experiences are not always the same.

Because I'm American is not an open invitation to start a vent session on my country's administration or what is wrong with my country's culture.

It's a pretty big ex-pat community here where I live and my opinions are shared by many.

That said, I am grateful for our opportunity to live in Europe and to expand our understanding of the world. I wanted my children to have this international experience - sometimes it has taught them different lessons than I expected, but they will inherit this world and I believe they will be better citizens as a result of the time spent here.

Thanks for listening.

gruezi is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 11:43 AM
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I understand what you mean, Gruezi, and I think it is rude, also, and I've encountered the same things in Europe, also. It's not as simple as saying Europeans think it's okay to discuss politics. This isn't an issue of a political discussion one is entering willingly at a party or with someone over a drink -- it's being accosted with negative political opinions about your country's leadership out of the blue.

There is definitely anti-Americanism in Europe, I think a lot in the UK. And I'm not saying there shouldn't be in many cases (although they have Blair to thank for a lot of things, so should complain the least, I think, about foreign policy, for example) Not in Switzerland so much. In one sense, to start complaining about a country's politics to someone you don't know at all is being anti-American (or whatever country), regardless of their politics, I think. YOu have no way of knowing the person's political opinions, and regardless of what they are -- it's sort of like family. It's not polite to start complaining about or insulting someone else's family members to them, even if maybe they think some of the same things.

Don't get me wrong, I am very anti-Bush, more than most people, but I also find it rude when a newsstand clerk in London starts bending my ear about the president of my country just because I'm buying a paper there.

As devil's advocate, if you believe a country is a democracy, why shouldn't you blame its populace some for who is President? I do, and I hold some citizenry responsible for complicitness in various wars and other terrible actions. That doesn't mean any one particular person can be held responsible on a one-to-one level, though, as you don't know what their views or history is.
Christina is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 12:05 PM
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Hi Gruezi,

My visiting US cousin said something along the same lines you did. He couldn't believe how many people wanted to talk to him about Bush. He didn't understand they were so concerned. I understood his confusion and offered him the following explanation:

Americans in Europe carry a greater burden than they realize.

Europeans (and elsewhere) are worried about America and its politics. Europeans are directly and indirectly effected by it. They care and they are worried. US politics are all over our daily papers. European TV shows don't go a day without a US report. However, Europeans have no say in the issue, which makes it doubly frustrating for some. This is why Europeans "cross the line" of possibly being insensitive and voice their opinion and concern to many Americans. They feel their voice is finally being heard by someone who can make a difference.

It didn't used to be like this.

Please be patient when someone makes a passing comment about Bush. Don't take it personally. Europeans know they can't make a difference in US politics, but Americans can. And that's the cross Americans carry anywhere they go.

Of course, if someone is being blatantly anti-American, remind him to clean up his own country's politics first.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Why would anybody care what someone else thinks of his or her government. The US goverment right now is the worst I've ever experienced and I've no problem telling this to every american if asked (or not) . (You don't need to listen). Otoh the German government is a fu**ing nightmare of incompetence too! Up to now they did not openly support torture, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

So what, live with it, discuss it or leave the place and talk to someone else.
No anti-whatever involved!
It's "we the people", if someone feels insulted or discriminated against because someone else hates his government, it's his problem not mine.

And please vote APPD! ;-)
logos999 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 01:37 PM
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<It's a pretty big ex-pat community here

Maybe that is part of it and the politics that come with an International school. I wonder if some of it is not the oddness of your child's teacher? He sounds the sort that would be a challenge in any country or school and I am sorry that your child has to endure that.

My child is also younger which also helps and we mainly homeschool and have have her just in the school for the language and cultural immersion in her second language, play and friends.

We are in a tiny village with a very small expat community and there is tremendous warmth and support here from the Spaniards and the expats. We have Irish,English, Scottish, German, French, Netherlands, Danes,Swedes,Pole, Asian, Argentines and more...but we are so small that we need each other. There is very much a small town sensibility and everyone helps and nurtures one another as we are all out of our element as are our children.

One friend who was new had her young husband die suddenly of a heart attack just after we left and we were her only friends because our daughters were best friends. She said you would not have believed how both Spanish and expats ( none who she had known before because she was working hard) had come to her rescue and brought so much comfort and support! Meals were left for months on her doorstep etc.

Most come here for greater freedom and the weather, but some don't make it and some go home. It is a struggling time for many of these adventurous families who want more for their children.

I am not fluent like my daughter and husband, so I only mix with the expats or Spaniards that speak English. There really is no anti Americanism here at all. The Spanish in this village are very, very sweet and welcoming....amazingly so.

Most of the time, when we travel, people do not even know that we are Americans, but if they do, we rarely hear anything about bush or politics. Not only not in our village,but not in conversations on the road around Europe either.

I DO think there is a lot of anger in Europe towards bush, but not nearly as much as I experienced at home ( or continue to hear from people in emails from home from people who use to be apolitical ).

There was one French couple in Greece who was quite shocked when they found out we were Americans as they were true bush haters ( and clearly frustrated and hurt by his actions). But after we talked some and let them know that we agreed with a lot of what they were saying and understood how they felt, they were so relieved. I think before that moment they must have thought all Americans think exactly like bush thinks and it was of grave concern for them.

We have had very few conversations like that, but I feel they have been very valuable and we have made closer connections by discussing such things and letting people be heard. I think we can all add to some good diplomacy since it has been really wretched from politicians for many years now.

I understand your feelings and that your experiences are different, but Just thought I would put out what ours was.

Even though this off topic I think it is a conversation that should be useful for the OP. She may very well be dealing with an International School and large expat community and French society tends to be more closed and probably more hurt by some of the bush jargon.( French fries etc)

WTnow is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2008, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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This is a wonderfully fun read and may give you some insight:
"French by heart: an American family's adventures in La Belle France" by Rebecca S. Ramsey.
linawood is offline  

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