Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   AMERICANS...yikes! #2 (

Sheila Jul 24th, 1999 11:27 AM

The Book is called Brit-Think/ Ameri-Think, A Transatlantic survival guide,by Jane Walmsley and it was published by Harrap in 1986

Kittie Jul 24th, 1999 11:28 AM

Sheila, <BR>I hope that you do not find that I am yelling at you. I am just concerned about how we American's are seen overseas. <BR>Kittie

Bonnie Jul 24th, 1999 01:44 PM

Kittie, To comment on something you said above, the only thing "better" about any European healthcare is that it's free - the US has the best healthcare in the world! <BR> <BR>I have always been taught that the USA is the best country in the world to live - else why is everyone else trying to get here? Jealousy is usually behind any deprecating remarks toward Americans or this country. Of course, we have our faults, and we're a huge place with many different people and points of view, compared to small countries like France, i.e., who love to criticize us. <BR> <BR>I'll take the USA anytime, warts and all!

Q. P. Jul 24th, 1999 02:14 PM

Thanks so much for that interesting--and understanding--post, Sheila. The "Brit-think, Ameri-think" book sounds lovely. I've also enjoyed a similar one called "Coping with England," written by an American expatriate, that's a little dated now but good on the cultural differences: the whole "please" business, the American eagerness (and British reluctance) to address newly met strangers by their first names, the British horror of risking embarrassment by asking personal questions, and so on. There's no right or wrong in these sorts of things, just differences worth knowing and making allowance for. And it goes without saying that individuals differ widely within these cultural norms. <BR> <BR> I do think that you're right about a certain almost unconscious American assumption of, if not superiority, then specialness. It's not that we boast or brag about our country so much as that, in a world in which the U.S. is the most powerful, wealthy, and influential nation, we carry with us a kind of confidence that may sometimes look like arrogance to others. (Not unlike the "arrogance" that was so much a part of the stereotype of the travelling Englishman in the 19th century, when the Empire was at its height.) I think that this is similar to the easygoing, unconsciously superior attitude of people of whatever nationality who are born to wealth. It's not that they brag about their money, but that they simply radiate the assumption that all things are possible for them. <BR> <BR> Anyway, I love travelling in Britain and find British "differences" (and regional differences within differences) by far the most fascinating and enjoyable part of those travels. Incidentally, the funniest chronicler of the America-Britain divide must certainly be Bill Bryson, who's actually better known in the UK than here. His stuff is just wonderful. I intend to take "Notes from a Small Island" along on my next trip to reread on the train! <BR> <BR>Q. P.

Sheila Jul 24th, 1999 02:29 PM

I've been thinking about this all day, and even before Kittie's brief posting above I was going to add something about how, in the same way only a few Americans bring disapprobation on their nation, only a few Brits react in the way suggested. <BR> <BR>And then I saw Bonnie's post... <BR> <BR>"I have always been taught that the USA is the best country in the world to live - else why is everyone else trying to get here?" <BR> <BR>I rest my case

Bonnie Jul 24th, 1999 05:22 PM

Sheila, No one on earth has anything on the Brits in terms of arrogance for no good reason! And I certainly hope that you were taught that YOU lived in the best country in the world - a child should be proud of where and how they live, and everyone should strive to be the best they can be, both individuals and countries. <BR> <BR>As far as any human beings feeling superior to others, let us not forget your own royal family who must not be touched because they are so superior to the rest of the world! We Americans may be proud and at times, a little loud, but snobs we are not! <BR> <BR>

catherine Jul 24th, 1999 06:09 PM

The best and most beautiful country in the world is France.The second best is Great Britian.The third is Italy. <BR> <BR>Bonnie our dear queen would be very upset, if she read what you had written.

Valerie Jul 25th, 1999 03:59 AM

"So sorry" but I must agree with Bonnie. As much as I absolutely love England and the British people, I think one should be proud of where they come from. Also, I honestly do not understand the monarchy thing(and I loved Princess Di). Why in the world would an ordinary working class english person pay so much in taxes to further the wealth of Royalty that doesn't make political decisions? I still think people would come out to view Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London even if the monarchy was disolved.

Julia Jul 25th, 1999 04:49 AM

The posts to this forum should be ample proof of the diversity in Americans' attitude about their country, from mindless nationalism to genuine pride to personalized vanity to realistic enjoyment. <BR> <BR>What I prize most about the US, for the purposes of this forum particularly, is its astonishing array of natural beauty in all 50 states. <BR> <BR>I also take pride in the vigor of our creativity. But medicine and education, admittedly overburdened, are hardly the best in the world anymore, except possibly for the very rich, and even then, the standards have dropped. (We've all but stopped funding medical research except for commercial drugs, and even then, FDA approval procedures are antiquated to the point of malpractice. But that's really for another forum.) <BR> <BR>As for our economic and taxation system, it furthers the wealth of the very wealthy to a much greater extent than the British system, and only about 500 of them are elected. And anyway I'm not so sure I want to further the wealth of elected officials any more than the unelected. As for royalty, the response to the death of JFK, Jr. speaks for itself. <BR> <BR>But the America-bashing that goes on internationally doesn't have anything to do with any of that, nor do I think it's jealousy (why do the arrogant always think a negative reaction to their arrogance is jealousy?). <BR> <BR>Often, our inclination to be volubly self-critical just begs for others to agree with us. And then we're surprised that, rather than admiring our humility and self-awareness, outsiders join in with the criticism. You notice that no one worries about whether Americans get annoyed by some trait of their own country's tourists. <BR> <BR>I bristle when I am aware that someone has an antagonistic attitude toward me before getting to know me, just because I'm an American. But that's a typically American attitude -- that one is supposed to get to know an individual and then like her or him. I'll probably never get over it, and I will always try to be polite in the terms of whatever host country I'm in. But there's a point where neither groveling apologetically nor being arrogantly defiant is useful.

Sheila Jul 25th, 1999 04:59 AM

Bonnie <BR> <BR>I hope from my postings about Scotland (and please understand that I am a Scot first, a European second and only by default, a Briton; I simply use the phrase for ease of reference) that I am inordinately proud of my country. <BR> <BR>I also strive to be the best that I can be. <BR> <BR>It does not, however, follow that I believe Scotland to be best (it might be, but I don't have the arrogance to assert it) nor do I believe I am anything. <BR> <BR>And as far as the Windsors go, they may form the monarchy, but they are nothing to do with me. My beliefs are republican, and I'm unlikely to meet them, so whether or not I'm allowed to meet them is a matter of supreme indifference to me. <BR> <BR>Of good working class stock, whatever else I am, I'm not a snob. And I'm sure most Americans aren't either. Now can you tell me about Back Bay in Boston, Georgetownn in Washington, Nob Hill in San Francisco, "rednecks", in the deep south, "the wrong side of the tracks", the average American citizen's attitude to native Americans... and I could go on. <BR> <BR>But, since I'm struggling to keep my hackles from rising at the tone of your posting, I hope you can see from this the danger of generalisation. <BR> <BR>And as a matter or information we don't pay taxes to support the monarchy. We used to not get taxes from them... and they are one of the wealthiest families in the world, but that has been changed. Their income is now paid into the national coffers and disbursed to them through the Civil List. Any other private income is taxed, like the rest of us.

Bonnie Jul 25th, 1999 05:26 AM

Julia, PLEASE get real! Even people who absolutely love their England leave there to work elsewhere because of the heavy taxation!!! And be one of the "little people" there who cannot get a relatively simple medical procedure done under their socialized medicine, something we Americans take for granted, (if an American doesn't have insurance, the hospital, actually other paying patients, absorbs their costs), and see how happy you'd be with the British medical system. <BR> <BR>As for American education, the excellent education is there for anyone who wants it! I'm not saying most Americans take advantage of it, but it is there, and once again, everybody wants to come here for their degrees! <BR> <BR>Let me tell you who is TRULY arrogant! I live in an area where you frequently see French families who are living here for a few years on an overseas assignment. They refuse to speak English unless they absolutely have to, and their noses are so high, they'd drown if they stood out in a rainstorm. Now that's arrogance!!!' <BR> <BR>People are people, and nice people are nice people, whatever their nationality. I think Americans have a natural exuberance, which may get a bit loud occasionally, but that certainly beats arrogance and stuffiness! <BR> <BR>And Julia, if you ever had to have intricate brain surgery, really, where would you want to have it?

sue Jul 25th, 1999 06:28 AM

To QP, Last week when I mentioned about the 'pleases' and 'thank yous' I got a load of abuse from Americans, so Im glad someone else feels the same way as I do. It actually costs you NOTHING to be polite, and yes - its amazing what a difference courtesy can make. <BR>

Hattie Jul 25th, 1999 06:54 AM

To say one should always be proud of their country is someone who has never suffered persecution! <BR>I have come to live in England because I am no longer proud to be a born Zimbabwean! Our leader has spent 20 years promising us everything we didn't have in the years of colonial rule. He has killed, persecuted, starved and threantened everyone who does not obay his command. You people in your ivory towers know nothing. To worry about something as triavial as snobbishness and who has what - go and get humbled in the third world then you might know what real life is all about. I loved my country, now I am ashamed to even know it exists with a tyrant like Mugabe ruling it. <BR>

Bonnie Jul 25th, 1999 07:08 AM

Hattie, It should go without saying that we're not saying a person should be blindly proud of their country, no matter what their leaders do! I'm sure that you've been through a horrible experience, and my heart goes out to you. I have friends who went through the Cultural Revolution in China - another horrible scenario. <BR> <BR>I'm talking to other Americans who put the USA down because it's the cool thing to do without giving a real thought to what it would be like to really live elsewhere. And I'm talking to the Europeans and Asians who come to visit time after time, or to live here, complaining about the US half the time! I'm certainly not talking about people like you who have no real choices. I wish you the best in your new life in England!

Sheila Jul 25th, 1999 08:27 AM

Sarah <BR> <BR>If you want to see what some of us have against some Americans, read Bonnie's later postings. <BR> <BR>And Bonnie, what a joy it is to deal with someone who is not afraid to be a stereotype!

Number Two Jul 25th, 1999 10:57 AM

There is a lot of "#2" being strewn in this thread, and I find it very entertaining! Lots of differences of opinion, lots of interesting perspectives; lots of responses to each other's points, but one point was made earlier that I haven't seen a response to: <BR> <BR>If America is so bad, why does everybody want to come here? Hmmmm?? Rich celebrities from Europe move to the US as soon as they can, immigrants from all corners of the world flock here in search of jobs, freedom, and prosperity. <BR> <BR>And another thing.... I haven't heard one mention on this thread of HOW FAT WE ARE! That's right, let's hear it again! We're obnoxious, we're arrogant, WE'RE FAT! What's an American-bashing thread on Fodor's without the fat comments? <BR> <BR>As a matter of fact, perhaps the Fodor's editors should create a separate forum just for anti-USA posts! God knows there's plenty of them! This way, when you guys (me too, don't forget that I enjoy reading this also!) reach the Forums menu we can select "Asia" "Europe" "Caribbean Islands" "USA-BASHING". It would be much easier to navigate this site, and most of the nastiness could be channeled in one direction. <BR> <BR>Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Luke Jul 25th, 1999 10:57 AM

I trust other posters have read enough of Bonnie's posts over time to know her opinions are not always overburdened with good information, but at least she loves her country. Fortunately for her, she's clearly not among the nearly 15 million Americans without access to health care (and no, hospitals do NOT absorb costs nowadays). If you, or she, ever needs intricate brain surgery, she'd better hope the HMO bureaucrat doesn't decide aspirin would work better.

Dave Jul 25th, 1999 11:18 AM

As an American, am I supposed to have learned something from all this?

Bonnie Jul 25th, 1999 02:11 PM

Luke, Some of the HMOs should not be allowed to do business, I agree - they make some bad decisions, but I still say, in general, the healthcare here is the best in the world. And many, many hospitals, along with our government (us), indeed, do absorb the costs of poor patients. Maybe the hospital isn't officially footing part of the bill, but you can be sure they have to. Who do you think is footing the bills for all the Medicaid patients in this country? Of course, our systems are not perfect - nothing is. But frequently, the situations we find ourselves in are of our own making. If two guys both dislike their jobs, but one sticks with it for the benefits (good insurance), and the other doesn't, who's fault is it that he doesn't have health coverage? Now all cases are not that simple, granted. Some people do everything in their power to have a good health plan, and still have a bad experience. But that's not the majority! <BR> <BR>And you may not like my information, but that doesn't make it bad information - it's just a point of view you don't agree with! Or a fact that you can't accept. What would this forum be if we all agreed on everything? <BR> <BR>I find it amazing and amusing that anyone would take offense at someone feeling and saying that their country is the best. I expect my European friends to feel the same way - and I don't stand in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, beating a drum, saying "Americans are the best." If you met me tomorrow, you would find me kind, considerate and respectful of you - until you started America-bashing! Then I will also say what I think - you know, good old self-expression! <BR> <BR>The "stereotype" wishes you all a good evening! <BR> <BR>

Joanna Jul 25th, 1999 08:05 PM

I think I've said this before on this forum, but will say it again ... generalisations are ridiculous; to say that "the British are...", "the Americans are..." etc. etc. Within each country there is such diversity of character and opinion that no two people are exactly alike. In my travels and at home I have met many people from all over and I don't judge each one on my experience of their countrymen/women but on how they are as individuals.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:18 AM.