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When you say where you're from to Europeans how do they respond?

When you say where you're from to Europeans how do they respond?

Old Jul 9th, 1998, 02:39 AM
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A couple of years ago I visited Houston, and some of my travelling companions where asked to visit a school and tell a bit about our country Norway.
When we asked what the students knew about Norway, we got the following answers:
Norway is the capitol of Sweeden.
Norway is the north-pole.
Norwegians du not have cars, they ride polar-bears.
In Norway you have to have a lisens to ride polar-bears, if not you use ice-skates.
Old Jul 9th, 1998, 06:09 AM
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When we say we are from Missouri, a lot of Italians and Greeks said they had relatives moved to Kansas City or St. Louis. If we mention we live in Hannibal, many people know Mark Twain, or the Mississippi River. Europeans know far more about our country than Americans know about Europe. I guess that's why I like to travel...so I can learn what our schools fail to teach!
Old Jul 9th, 1998, 11:34 PM
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Hi, I'm from Russia.
Can't say much what Europeans tell me, but generally they say: vodka, gorbachev (can't start this name with a capital letter), Siberia. If we start a deeper conversation, they are usually well informed about what's going on here.
Interesting, many times in the Mid.East people would say: Kalashnikov.
Old Jul 10th, 1998, 02:04 AM
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I replied to tell we are in some aspects very similar no matter where we come from . it is not a question of fighting back it's just things as they are
S.fowler ,been to Chicago great city people even greater! like to go back (beyond MJ!)

Old Jul 10th, 1998, 03:43 AM
wasa the swede
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I think that europeans in general have much more knowledge about the map of us than americans in general have of the map of europe. Some years ago a letter whas sent to the swedish embassy in washington saying; "If you don't stop killing the whales , we are never going to buy your whatches any more..." !!!

Old Jul 10th, 1998, 05:28 AM
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I've got a few for you...Once in London I got yelled at because Reagan was President. The guy must have thought it was my vote that made him Pres. I met that guy in a pub...serves me right! My friend and I had to run away and hide in a phone booth to get away from him!! Once in Manchester, I got yelled at because of the Revolutionary War. I quickly ducked into a pub there to get away from them, too! Mostly, because I am from NY, I get asked if I have ever been mugged. Generally, people in Europe tend to be very up on world politics and are very interesting. There will always be those who ask the "silly" questions, but hey, that's the stuff that makes for great stories! I'm sure I've asked a few in my lifetime, as well!
Old Jul 10th, 1998, 09:36 AM
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I am also from chicago and was in europe in 95. Whenever i told people i was from chicago they made a shotgun sound and asked how i had managed to stay alive. I couldn't help chuckling. Chicago is progably one of the greatest cities in the world and people think i'm lucky to be alive while living their. I just feel sorry for them that they can't experience this great city like i can
Old Jul 10th, 1998, 06:25 PM
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We're from Oregon. And hardly anyone we have met in our many trips to Europe and Asia has any idea where that is. When we tell them more or show any pictures
almost all are amazed that Oregon is on the ocean. When I tell them we have over 450 kilometers of ocean shoreline they are stunned and usually say something like "I thought California was on the Pacific shore" as though California was 100% of the coast of the US
Old Jul 10th, 1998, 06:46 PM
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A long, long time ago were were in Fez, Morocco, at the time that the Algerians were in great conflict with the Israelis. The Algerians had said, oh well, if we can't kill Israelis, then we will do the next best thing and get their friends, the Americans. We were having pizza in a small restaurant in the modern part of the city and stuck up a conversation with some young men who spoke very good English. We were feeling a little uneasy being in an Arab country and so close to Algeria, but none the less. But, when this group asked us where we were from in the U.S. (Chicago, at that time!!) the look of horror on their faces was incredible. They couldn't get past the stereotype of Capone and the Mafia (and my husband is Italian/American) One brave fellow volunteered that he had an uncle in Hoboken, NJ!!! Funny how people are people--that was a learning experience.
Old Jul 10th, 1998, 07:05 PM
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I just wanted to add that I think that this is a great, enlightening conversation, and that I thank the person initiating it and all who have participated. I hope that we've all come away with the understanding that we've all got some unintentional prejudices and some deep, underlying similarities. I hope that when meeting people from other countries, cultures, religions, heritages, we can all find our common ground, whether that's a love of art, literature, music, sports, our children, life, whatever. None of us obviously has the corner on stupid prejudices or misunderstandings, but all of our efforts to communicate have brought the world a little closer together. Hooray for the Internet.

And remember the old Irish toast: There are no strangers here, only friends I haven't met yet.
Old Feb 14th, 1999, 01:51 AM
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I'm sending this old topic to the top because I think it's great -- AND I see there have been no Canadian responses, so I have to take part.

First off, many people assume it's very cold all over Canada and that we have snow, say, eight months of the year. Well, I'm from Vancouver Island on the west coast and it snows maybe once a year and never lasts. We have a few palm trees growing in my home town, even. I do not know how to ski. I have never seen an igloo. Most of our law enforcement officers do not ride around on horses. I don't like hockey. I don't speak French (well, "un tres petite peut" that I remember from high school). And I don't think I know your friend Mike from Toronto.

Many times in Europe people have assumed that I'm American. When I say I'm Canadian they apologize for the mistake! Just because I'm proud to be a Canadian doesn't mean I hate Americans; that would be kind of uncomfortable, really, considering I now live in the States!

My impressions, generally, have been that Canadians are treated very well in Europe (that's why we all stitch Canadian flags on our backpacks!). One occasion that always sticks in my mind was when a woman in England offered to take my back-packing companions and myself in for an afternoon so we could have hot baths and lunch with her. She said that when she had back-packed in Canada in her younger days she had been treated with similar courtesy and friendliness. Talk about a warm fuzzy.

The stereotypes are just cute and funny as far as I'm concerned...and they are great starters for conversation!
Old Feb 14th, 1999, 06:45 AM
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Interesting string. I'm American, used to live in France. Very frequently when going through check-out at the grocery story, young female cashiers would see my passport and almost swoon and say that it was either their dream to go to Dallas or to go to Hollywood. "Dallas" has been in reruns in France for many years. I would tell them that Dallas isn't much to visit, is a business town not a tourist town, etc. and they sure didn't want to hear that, understandably so. So I just started telling them that they were both nice cities and hoped they'd get to fulfill their dream.
I had a French boss in the US some years ago. We're located near Charleston, SC. He decided he was going to drive to New Mexico and back for the weekend. I couldn't dissuade him. Got as far as the Alabama/Mississippi border before he began to understand.
In encountering French people, when I told them I was from upstate NY (where I grew up), I got the same reception as a few others on this string, so I started telling them I was from my mother's ancestral home, Virginia. Much better reception. They would talk about the Marquis de Lafayette and the American Revolution.
When I was taking my driver's exam in France, the guy that was running our punch cards through the test grading machine saw that I was born in Ticonderoga, NY and said, "Oh, that's where the fort is that Ethan Allen captured from the British."
All in all, I have found that the French, especially older French, deeply respect the Americans for our role in WWII, but consider us immature in the ways of the world. The recent Clinton saga has certainly added fuel to that fire!
Old Feb 14th, 1999, 09:21 AM
Bob Brown
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I try to say as little as possible when asked where I am from. Besides, that is a good question because I grew up in 5 places at one time or the other. Right now I live in Athens, Georgia, and many Europeans know it as the home of the
rock group R.E.M. And some even know that Olympic Soccer was played here.

My funniest conversation about my American origins was in the pub co-located with the bus station in Amesbury, England. I was waiting for the bus back to Salisbury when one of the locals sat down beside me and started a conversation. He knew I was an American without asking.
"Been out to the Stones have yee?" "Yes."
How'd yee get there?"
"I walked."
"You Yanks aren't much for walking are yee?"
So we, too, get stereotyped: and the list is not very flattering at times.

Old Feb 15th, 1999, 08:49 PM
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Although slightly askew from the orignal post, I will add this: growing up in southern California, it was quite often that one would be stopped at a corner and asked "where's Disneyland?" or, "how do you get to Disneyland?"

So, when we became older and went a travelin' ourselves, we would always yell out to someone "hey, where's Disneyland?" Suffice to say, the answer was usually "California!"
Old Feb 16th, 1999, 05:54 AM
Tony Hughes
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S Fowler, with her last sentence in her first posting, assumes everyone reading this posting is an American. Incorrect.

Donna, for you to say '...for some reason they're (The Europeans) really well informed.. What sort of education do you think we get over here? Two years elementary then it's down the mines? I mean honestly.

Similarly Arizona is 'amazed at the sophistication of some Europeans'. Why?

Now all European countries are smaller then USA, we all know that and by dint of that we wouldn't drive the distances to go on holiday that many Americans would drive to get a taco. That doesn't make us mentally subnormal or stupid. No doubt someone will post something along the lines of me being stupid or misreading or misinterpreting or whatever.
Old Feb 16th, 1999, 09:55 AM
Bob Brown
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The story about the washing machine explanation is funny. Anyone who ever tried to use a fancy European model knows that there are vital differences. We rented a vacation apartment in Saas Grund, Switzerland, last year. After we checked out the washer, I went to get the owner to explain how to work it.
Well, she did not speak English, so my German was put to a real test. But with a demonstration, my wife caught on quickly. But that machine was vastly different from our top of the line Maytag and just loaded with features.

And for Jen, and other Canadians, I have had many happy vacations in Canada, from Calgary and Kamloops to Victoria and Campbell River. Headed back to Calgary this summer and points west and east, by choice.

And as for not understanding American distances, a lot of US types don't either. I had a student, senior in college, who thought she could run out to western Iowa over a weekend for a wedding. You know, leave Sat. AM early, and drive back Sunday night, late.
Or a friend of my wife's who drove from
Atlanta to Lexington, KY, by way of Nashville because that was the way the Interstate went, or some such reason.
Old Feb 16th, 1999, 11:21 AM
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It was nice to hear from some fellow Canadians in this discussion.

I have always been treated extremely well when travelling in Europe and UK. But then I've also had many pleasant experiences in the US, although I have to say the Europeans seem to know more about Canada than many Americans whom I've spoken with.

I think how you are treated in a Country says more about you than the country. If you arrive interested in learning about their culture, language and customs rather than wanting them to conform to your ways - you will always be pleasantly surprised.

Old Feb 16th, 1999, 11:36 AM
Neal Sanders
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Jen, thanks for resurrecting this hoary old chestnut from last summer. It was a pleasure to re-read the responses to Ms. Fowler's query.

Tony, my Scottish friend, I am going to let you in on America's dirty little secret: we Americans are, for the most part, utterly ignorant of the rest of the world. I read The Economist every week, but until two weeks before I went to the Netherlands last November, I didn't have the slightest idea who was the head of the Dutch government, or whether he or she was called Premier, President, or Grand Imperial Pooh-bah. And the only reason I knew when I arrived was because I made it a point of finding out as part of my studying up for that vacation. Yet, people I met in Amsterdam and The Hague not only knew who Bill Clinton was, they understood the United States' political process in detail, down to the difference between senators and representatives.

And Europeans are very well traveled, especially those in urban areas. A woman whom I met in The Hague had just returned from an exhibition of Nederlandish art at the Met in New York, and we spent the better part of an hour comparing impressions of that show, as well as of the Vermeer blockbuster in Washington, which she had also seen. The average American, if they travel abroad at all, sees Europe as part of a tour group. They read "USA Today" and they watch CNN from their room in a Holiday Inn in Hammersmith. If, back home in Dallas, they meet a Londoner on vacation, they can relate to Madame Tussard's and the Tower. If, back home in Dallas they meet someone from, say, Edinburgh, they'll say they thought "Braveheart" was a swell film.

Tony, you've got it wrong: it isn't that we think you Europeans spent two years in school and then down to the mines. It's us who dwell in the darkness. If it doesn't happen in New York or Los Angeles, it isn't news. We independent travelers set off for Munich, armed with an open mind and what we've absorbed from Fodors, and are bowled over because the men at the next table not only know that the Yankees are in first place, they're interested in the upcoming series against the Red Sox. That's why Arizona is "amazed."

In part, Europeans know so much of America because of CNN, NBC, etc. It is ubiquitous, and even CNN's European service delivers a half hour of U.S. news every three hours.

Outside of western Europe, the knowledge level falls off dramatically. For example, in Egypt, being from "Virginia" drew only a blank stare. I had to be from "Washington DC" before anyone could place me geographically. Japan was something like that, although once they placed me, they had the ability to rattle off population, principal products and how much corn was grown last year. They teach some strange stuff over there.

But the rest of the world is catching up. On my last night in Cairo, I flipped on television and found "The America Channel," a cable station devoted to non-stop U.S. travel features and fairly recent network programs. Talk about amazin'.

Old Feb 16th, 1999, 01:21 PM
Tony Hughes
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Thanks Neal, you provided plenty for me to steal/modify when I come to do some writing in the future.

I suppose it's not really a level playing field as most non-Americans are fed, without option, a diet of sustained Americana by the media whilst I suppose Americans could watch tv more or less for ever without seeing an article on Belgium, say.
Old Feb 16th, 1999, 01:24 PM
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Neal, I was thinking the same thing that you just so eloquently stated. I also thought of Arizona's statement as a compliment toward Europeans. Oh, I am sure there are plenty of ignorant people to go around. Nevertheless, I have a feeling that the average European has a much better grasp on world affairs than the average American. We are just so much more isolated here. A lot of Americans, proven by tests, can't even place their own states on the map, much less tell you where Canada or Mexico are. Even larger numbers couldn't tell you that the U.S. and Russia were on the same side in World War I.

Tony, we do indeed have a great higher education system here in the U.S., but up to that level I am afraid that some other countries leave us behind.

On a positive side, at least the rest of the world finds us interesting enough to want to learn about our country.

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