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misconception Europeans have about Americans...

misconception Europeans have about Americans...

Aug 3rd, 2001, 06:55 PM
  #21  
Caitlin
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I've seen remarks like those Laura mentions; "I can't believe what huge breakfasts Americans eat"; "I couldn't believe the size of the steaks", etc. To me it's just not really using common sense--after all, nowhere do restaurant meals really resemble the kind or quantity of food people eat at home, and the only time anyone's constantly eating out is when traveling. So if you saw a bunch of Americans eating huge breakfasts in a diner, you can bet they don't do it everyday, and if you're in a city popular with tourists--well, they probably are too. But this doesn't occur to people.

I have also, like others, found that Europeans have no conception of the size of the US or the distances involved. Of course, this was a problem when my brother brought his Boston-bred girlfriend out to California and she thought they'd just hop in the car and shoot over to New Mexico to visit a friend of hers in an easy days' drive.

Oh, and California means "beach"--no one believes that large parts of the state aren't hot and sunny all the time. This is true of Americans from the east ancd midwest too, though.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 07:03 PM
  #22  
Donna
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In my observation, Europeans draw conclusions regarding the eating habits of visiting Americans by just looking at them. It's a fact that Europeans consume less and walk more than Americans, in general. Many assume Americans are wealthy just because they obviously have the means to visit their country.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 09:17 PM
  #23  
Leilani
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When my daughter studied in Spain, the Spanish students she met were under the impression that all Americans carried guns.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 01:51 AM
  #24  
Erlsegaard
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A lot of people outside the US seem to have a hard time accepting almost any American as a serious human being in any area where some mental ability or strength is considered to be in play. I've heard people dismiss "American English" as used by natives of North America as not being a "real" language, but one whittled down to admit only the most primitive and basic possibilities of thought and conversation. Of course the understanding of subtleties, the marriage of the developed will with a basic humanistic education, any semblance of the common framework of a recognizably human mind--these things appear to be well beyond the life experience and makeup of all but a few Americans in the eyes of the rest of the world. These are hard barriers to being accepted as any kind of an equal in a serious international crowd. Generally your American in this type of group is regarded as something like the mascot, I think.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 02:50 AM
  #25  
Sjoerd
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I am Dutch. Before I first came to the US (California), I had the misconception that all (well, most) Americans would be beautiful people. (I had watched too much of Baywatch and Beverly Hills 91210, I think....)
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 05:29 AM
  #26  
Rooben
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I hear there are 250 million handguns in the States. I hear that there about 250 million citizens in the States. I believe that all citizens own, and probably carry, a handgun. Is this crazy?

Where I live, private citizens are not allowed to own a handgun. The police do not carry handguns without due cause. The government recently instituted a campaign for illegally-owned weapons to be handed in. They collected several hundred thousand. I am scared to go to the States. Is this crazy?
Rooben
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 05:58 AM
  #27  
Laura
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to Rooben: I don't know who has all those handguns...I personally don't know anyone who owns one. Not only that, but I wouldn't let either of my daughters babysit in any house if the people had guns (including hunting rifles)....and neither did my friends let their children. I have a friend who has a friend who is a gun collector and dealer, and he owns several hundred guns. I also know many hunters who own rifles and these are locked up during the year until hunting season. Frankly, I think you are overreacting to a lot of hype.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 07:15 AM
  #28  
xxx
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In Europe we tink that all Americans are rich, because that's what we see on the films.Hollywood movies show only the life of the rich,lawyers,politicians,media stars etc. driving cadillacs,living in castle-size houses.Never workers,farmersa,shop assistants.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 12:56 PM
  #29  
tcc
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Surlok: Why are you addressing an answer to me that I didn't ask? I have European friends as well and it is a misconception that Americans all have money, which is not true. There wouldn't be this huge gap between the have's and the have-nots if it was. I don't have a car (I live in NYC but before moving here any car I've ever owned was used) or a dishwasher and I scrimped and saved and went without a few things in order to travel to Paris. There are several others who have said the same about this misconception about Americans. It's a fact that it is more affordable to travel in this day and age than many years ago when it was only for the rich. What's with the lesson? Getting ready for school?
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 05:20 PM
  #30  
Here
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Marilyn Ham:

Please tell us that the sentence with the word road ( I road in a London taxi.....) is a typo. Spelling mistakes say more about Americans than what they wear or what size they are.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 05:28 PM
  #31  
boo-o
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all get off your high horses. You are either nice, receptive or not to someone from another country. If you are nice , you are one of God's children, the rest of you need help.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 05:32 PM
  #32  
Surlok
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I didn't mean that you, TCC, specifically, are richer than the mid middle class Europeans, I was speaking that Americans ( in general), are perceived by Europeans (in general), as being (generally) richer.

Is my statement clearer now?

No offense intended.

Surlok
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 08:12 PM
  #33  
Civil War Historian
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Rooben: I haven't the slightest idea how many handguns are in the US, but I am certain that at least half of those owned by private citizens are antiques that are neither used nor usable, since ammunition is no longer available for them.
 
Aug 5th, 2001, 02:05 AM
  #34  
Annie
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As an American living in a small northern European country, I encounter these misconceptions every day. Many people where I live greatly underestimate the vast size and diversity of our country. It is much more accurate to compare the U.S. to Europe as a whole, instead of comparing
Norway, a country of a little over 4 million, to the U.S. 260 million plus.

Many people believe Americans are all loud, rich and fat. Many ridicule our geography skills, yet when I ask them to find Indiana, Kansas, or North Carolina on a map, they can not.

I am often told the American schools, hospitals and cultural life are inferior to the country where I now live. (In my experience, not true.) Many believe that crime is out of control everywhere in the U.S., and that all Americans support the death penalty.

I feel often that many have a love/hate relationship with the U.S. Often I can listen to a report on the local news, and then switch to CNN or Sky News where the event is reported very differently. Many believe that brownies, chocolate chip cookies, etc. are new locally discovered food items.

I have had people refuse to believe that American children do play outside (all our cities suffer severe pollution). And of course, many believe we have TV in every room which we spend all day and night glued to, except when we are out eating at McDonald's.

I am also told often that most Americans have had plastic surgery. Many assume that I have breat implants and have had a face lift.

These misconceptions are entertaining, but scary. I truly believe that Europeans get many of there misconceptions from Hollywood. They think they know us, but they don't.
 
Aug 5th, 2001, 03:42 AM
  #35  
Miriam
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To Surlok,

Europeans don`t use dishwashers and want to save water because it`s expensive?
Of course, we use dishwashers, I don`t know anybody who doesn`t. Our industry made a nice job to construct models which don`t need a lot of water...BUT that`s not because of the cost, but to save the environment! Same for toilets and washing machines. I even got 100 DM from the government for buying a special one which only needs the minimum
amount of water and guess what-the laundry is as clean as it was with my former machine.
Sorry to be off topic, but I need to say that...

Miriam
 
Aug 5th, 2001, 06:19 AM
  #36  
Keith Legg
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Asking Europeans to find Kansas, N.Carolina, etc to illustrate a lack of geography is quite ridiculous - it would be like asking an American (or a Brit, for that matter) to find Andalucia, Bavaria or Languedoc on a map (Spain, Germany and France, incidentally.) Americans have difficulty finding COUNTRIES, especially in Europe where there are many small countries.

As for the breakfasts, I can't believe that people don't eat such huge breakfasts normally - I've just returned from California and I would say that about 50% of the people I saw were overweight.
 
Aug 5th, 2001, 07:08 AM
  #37  
Laura
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to Keith: I think you just proved that even people in the U.K. have misconceptions about the U.S. Kansas, N. Carolina similar to Bavaria, etc.? You have no idea, none at all, of the size of our states. If you would only understand that the size of our states are equal to or are larger than many European....you know what? I can't do this. Please, just open a geography book. The more any of us learn, the more all of us benefit. DO research the U.S., learn some of our history, heck, just learn the size, even the history of one particular state, any state, then come back and rejoin this forum. THEN the rest of us would welcome your opinion. Also, do you have any idea how many tourists there are on any given day in California? Any part of California?
I have never gotten upset with any other poster before, and I don't mean to come across as telling you off. I just don't understand how someone with even a basic understanding of the geography of the U.S., of even just Kansas or N. Carolina can make the comparison that you did. Are you a troll? Yeah, that's gotta be it. Well, you got me. First one to do that.
 
Aug 5th, 2001, 07:35 AM
  #38  
kanga
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To be fair to Keith, he was not comparing Bavaria to Kansas, he was just pointing out that requiring a European to point it out on the map was the same as asking an American to point out Bavaria on the map. I have been complimented on my command of English and an English friend who said that Australia was a vast country was told scornfully, "Vast to you maybe."
That's an American thinking that Australia was just a bit bigger than Britain!
 
Aug 5th, 2001, 07:52 AM
  #39  
Laura
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Okay, Kanga, have you ever been to the States? Any state? If Keith had compared finding Bavaria to finding a section of Texas or a section of Michigan, then, yeah, he might have been making a valid comparison. But EACH of most of our States are at least the size of many European countries...oh, can someone else explain this better? (Bob the Navigator, are you out there? help!!) I guess this just proves that ALL of us, Europeans, Australians, Americans, the whole world would do better if more of us would travel to other countries....certainly if more of us studied other countries in more depth.
 
Aug 5th, 2001, 08:19 AM
  #40  
Cass
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Re:Geography. Keith is doing what many Europeans do: assuming our states are analogous to the internal regions of European countries.

This doesn't work for 2 reasons: 1. the sheer size of things -- it's all on a vastly larger scale in the US; and 2. our states function politically, legally, and often culturally as very distinct entities. We are not "America" so much as "United States of..," esp. outside the densely populated Northeast. Just because we all speak, more or less, the same language, serve in the same armed services, and elect a president doesn't mean we are at all homogeneous nationally.

Which leads me to another misconception: already alluded to by others:
Re: politics and leadership -- the misconception that we all loved Bill Clinton and were Democrats until a year ago, when we all became Republicans and fell in love with George Bush. How do I explain that we are -- it seems to me -- largely sick to death of ALL the clowns in federal power and not all that thrilled with many of our state representatives? And most of us can't really understand how-the-hell most of the people in office got there, other than buying and dealing their way in.

Ever since the VietNam era, I have been tired of being challenged to defend the actions of American govt. to Europeans. They never seem to believe I find many things "we've" done contemptible, and when they finally do, they figure I'm just an educated exception.

Finally, re: guns. The statistics are not really explained by antiquarian collectors but much more by the fact that many, if not most, gunowners own more than one -- often many more than one -- and they all are meant to be in working order.

There is also a geographic component here -- in the big cities, there are plenty of handguns on the street "owned" by the very people you wish wouldn't. But in the rest of the country, particularly the more rural states of the far north, the south, and the west, there's a fierce tradition of hunting and maybe a macho overlay of something else. So men in places like Maine and North Carolina and Wyoming have their own collection of guns (women too, but in much smaller numbers).

But American media have produced all these "action" shows in part because there is such a big market for them overseas, and they are cheap to export, since a lot of car chases and gunplay means you don't have to pay for expensive translations.

So Europeans think every soccer mom and every ad man is "packing heat", and that a disagreement over a parking space will guarantee a blood-letting.

There are days, I admit, when I'm not sure they're entirely wrong.
 

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