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fairfarmhand

S/o International people views on Americans

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7 hours ago, TechWife said:

I see quiet considerate people of all nationalities, including American. But, I don't see loud, obnoxious people of other nationalities. That isn't to say that there aren't some, but it's noteworthy that the loud, obnoxious people that I have seen are Americans. I'm relating my personal experience, and my personal experience leads me to conclude that our reputation for rudeness in other cultures is understandable.

 

 

 

We have had lots of bad experiences with loud, obnoxious Germans,  We have had bad experiences with maybe not so loud but even more obnoxious Russians.  We have had bad experiences with loud, drunken British men who were flying on cheap airlines to foreign places to get drunk (I guess maybe the price of liquor in England was such that it still was chaper to fly Ryan Air, get cheap lodging and get drunk in foreign lands????)./   I was on a plane with a large schoolgroup of Argentinian girls who were plenty loud and annoying.  But you know what- I have met nice, quiet British people, quiet Germans who were not obnoxious, and quiet Argentinians too.  (haven't met too many Russians on my travels).  I have also met loud, obnoxious Americans but I have met more completely nice Americans or at least Americans acting totally non offensively.

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You all find Americans annoying because they are loud and in the way and thin skinned.  I just found out my husband isn't annoyed by people,but by Americans.  He hates all this stuff.  Maybe he is living in the wrong country. 😂

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8 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

Well, you could maybe listen to those who've seen enough of it to say yes, there is (some) truth in this stereotype, and that stereotype reflects some ugly parts of our culture.

As do all national stereotypes. 

The bolded is your national privilege. 

 

A problem though I think may be that Australians think they know America, and that they cannot help but know America—but may actually really only know American movies and TV.

 

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13 hours ago, MEmama said:

The book goes into great depth about historical migration patterns and how they continue to shape our cultures today. It doesn't attempt to detail every last influence, but paints a broad—and very accurate—brush across the continent.

It does illustrate—again, broadly— modern migrations, explaining that  *most* people move (when voluntary) within similar, familiar cultures. New England to the the upper Midwest, coastal west coast or southern Ontario makes cultural sense as they share strikingly similar historical patterns. Coastal California to Alabama, on the hand, share few historical cultural similarities. Perhaps the same is true of your city, perhaps its influences are different from its surrounding greater area.

Several posters from western states have commented that western Canada feels comfortable to them, that there are clear ties that transcend the border. It’s not a surprise, given that both were settled similarly and for similar purposes.

 

 

Specifically , whai is verymisleadin about the Deep South description is that while most of my state was pro-slavery and pro-Confederaly, rhe mountain area of the NE part of my state was not pro-slavery or Confederal and specifically my city was a mixture of pro and con.  Also, in the 60's, while the more Deep South areas were having horrible civil rights violations, my city peacefully integrated in 1963, which was earlier than my probably labeled mid Atlantic county in Northern VA which was still segregated when I started kindergarten in 1968.

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49 minutes ago, Pen said:

 

A problem though I think may be that Australians think they know America, and that they cannot help but know America—but may actually really only know American movies and TV.

 

 

I would have to be pretty darn stupid to think I knew an entire country because I watched Parks and Recreation one time.

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6 hours ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

I think part of the problem is that in the US, we leave, for the most part, foreign language classes until students are teens. I’m sure many can take it in middle school, and there are immersion schools but those are probably more available in larger cities. 

Do the other major countries begin second language instruction at a younger age? 

Lots of countries do.  But what I have experienced in a few European countries is that even though English is a required language from young elemantary ages, many to most of the people do not speak it.  They may very well be able to understand written language (as I can read more languages than I can speak), but apparently language instruction in general is often difficult.

Belgium, where the country is divided between French and Flemish speakers with a very small minority of German speakers, did have almost everybody speaking at least 2 languages.  I think it was the early introduction to 2 languages that made language learning easier.  

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16 minutes ago, TravelingChris said:

Lots of countries do.  But what I have experienced in a few European countries is that even though English is a required language from young elemantary ages, many to most of the people do not speak it.  They may very well be able to understand written language (as I can read more languages than I can speak), but apparently language instruction in general is often difficult.

Belgium, where the country is divided between French and Flemish speakers with a very small minority of German speakers, did have almost everybody speaking at least 2 languages.  I think it was the early introduction to 2 languages that made language learning easier.  

I still think it's use it or lose it, regardless of how young you start.

My kids have always had exposure to Spanish since birth, both at home and at school, even including some full immersion and travel to Spain & Latin America.  But in grade 9, they will have to take Spanish 1 just like those who never studied Spanish before.  They will find the first couple chapters easy, maybe, but that's it.

In countries where kids learn the language AND have reason to speak it outside of school, they retain a lot more than those who simply take a required course.  I've known people who studied English most of their childhood but still really couldn't speak it because they didn't use it outside of school.  (And who knows how well the teachers themselves actually know the language they teach.)

Of course there is value in the courses.  I found that taking Spanish grammar helped me to better analyze English grammar, for example.  But fluency as a goal isn't going to be met that way.

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4 hours ago, SKL said:

I still think it's use it or lose it, regardless of how young you start.

My kids have always had exposure to Spanish since birth, both at home and at school, even including some full immersion and travel to Spain & Latin America.  But in grade 9, they will have to take Spanish 1 just like those who never studied Spanish before.  They will find the first couple chapters easy, maybe, but that's it.

In countries where kids learn the language AND have reason to speak it outside of school, they retain a lot more than those who simply take a required course.  I've known people who studied English most of their childhood but still really couldn't speak it because they didn't use it outside of school.  (And who knows how well the teachers themselves actually know the language they teach.)

Of course there is value in the courses.  I found that taking Spanish grammar helped me to better analyze English grammar, for example.  But fluency as a goal isn't going to be met that way.

Absolutely.

We've met quite a number of Europeans who don’t speak any English or a second language at all, including family members.

And while Canada is officially bilingual (all federal forms must be in English and French), according to a quick google search only around 10% of non-Quebecois are fluent in French. Only one province is officially bilingual, but when we lived there our schools didn’t teach a French and I couldn’t find anyone within a couple hours of us who could speak it, never mind tutor my son (who was desperate to learn it). Outside a French dominate sliver of the province, English was overwhelmingly predominate.

According to same early morning search, around 20% of Americans are fluent in Spanish. The American west has the highest percentage—something like 40%— because they get to use it regularly far more than those of us in other areas.

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7 hours ago, Pen said:

 

A problem though I think may be that Australians think they know America, and that they cannot help but know America—but may actually really only know American movies and TV.

 

I think this has been raised a few times though the thread.  My comments and I think most were based on personal experience not the movies.  I realise the thread is crazy long now though so easy to miss stuff

also just to reiterate that’s not a “I think I know America” but observations on Americans here which obviously may be a biased selection with regards to wealth levels etc.

I’d say I’ve learned most about Americans in America from hanging out here although again this is a distinct subgroup with its own culture and goodness knows there’s plenty of variation.

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2 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

I think this has been raised a few times though the thread.  My comments and I think most were based on personal experience not the movies.  I realise the thread is crazy long now though so easy to miss stuff

also just to reiterate that’s not a “I think I know America” but observations on Americans here which obviously may be a biased selection with regards to wealth levels etc.

I’d say I’ve learned most about Americans in America from hanging out here although again this is a distinct subgroup with its own culture and goodness knows there’s plenty of variation.

 

It was intended as directly about a comment from @StellaM who seemed to indicate that it is the national privilege of USA Americans not to have to learn about Australia, while Australians are required  to learn about USA. 

Maybe that’s actually so and Australians have required school classes in US culture, history, etc.  idk.   My impression is that Australians aren’t actually required to learn about USA, that some choose to, and others choose not to.  And the fiction media images and the stereotypes are so strong it might take some extra learning to get past the fictions. 

Edited by Pen
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20 hours ago, kdsuomi said:

 

Honestly, what is this dig about? I don't know any American who doesn't realize that people all over the world differently. I mean, I live very differently than the very wealthy families who make up most of the city we live in. Most Americans likely have a number of actual immigrants who are close friends or family and very well know that people live differently elsewhere. We do also learn about other cultures and are taught that we should be very accepting of them. 

 

Most Americans that I know (hence my experience, and opinion 😂) intellectually understand from a macro view that people all over the world live differently, however, in small ways and in regular conversation show that they don't actually understand that deep down. I'm an immigrant and have been surprised (but then not...) at how many times people have assumed that my home country has similar laws/holidays/commercial enterprises/thought processes, etc... to here. When I point out the truth (that they don't) then they sort of slap their heads and say "of course!" but in my experience it really is a mindset that's ingrained. Heck, I've lived here 29 years and I have developed some of those patterns of thinking. My mom likes to point them out to me when I visit as how I've "become so American". 😁 Some of you may not see it, and that's okay, but don't discount the experience of those of us who do. 

9 hours ago, Pen said:

 

A problem though I think may be that Australians think they know America, and that they cannot help but know America—but may actually really only know American movies and TV.

 

I'm American (granted, an immigrant who has lived here a long time) and I've seen almost everything that the non-Americans have - including the stereotypical drunk Aussies 🤣 (how do people not know that this is a stereotype of a section of Australians!?! LOL!) I know America and Americans very well and still have the same opinions of the non-Americans on this thread. I don't think it's ignorance or lack of knowledge, just their experience.

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5 hours ago, Pen said:

 

It was intended as directly about a comment from @StellaM who seemed to indicate that it is the national privilege of USA Americans not to have to learn about Australia, while Australians are required  to learn about USA. 

Maybe that’s actually so and Australians have required school classes in US culture, history, etc.  idk.   My impression is that Australians aren’t actually required to learn about USA, that some choose to, and others choose not to.  And the fiction media images and the stereotypes are so strong it might take some extra learning to get past the fictions. 

 

Well, probably better to ask for clarification on that statement, I guess. 

Yes, there is national privilege when you are a citizen of the dominant nation on Earth.

If people elsewhere want to understand how our lives are affected by you, we have to learn about you. 

Do we learn about you by popping on an ep of Bojack Horseman and 'learning' that everyone in America lives on the West Coast, is in show biz, and has a dark sense of humor ? No.

It doesn't work the other way around, because dominant nations are largely unaffected by subservient nations. You could go your entire life never needing to know a single thing about most other countries, because they would have zero influence on your life. 

(And just to be clear, at no point did any international poster, me included, claim to 'know' the US. We were asked about our perceptions, and how those perceptions related to tourist behaviour we may have seen, which we did. But we did not say we 'knew' the US - that's entirely a projection of the offended.)

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5 hours ago, importswim said:

 

Most Americans that I know (hence my experience, and opinion 😂) intellectually understand from a macro view that people all over the world live differently, however, in small ways and in regular conversation show that they don't actually understand that deep down. I'm an immigrant and have been surprised (but then not...) at how many times people have assumed that my home country has similar laws/holidays/commercial enterprises/thought processes, etc... to here. When I point out the truth (that they don't) then they sort of slap their heads and say "of course!" but in my experience it really is a mindset that's ingrained. Heck, I've lived here 29 years and I have developed some of those patterns of thinking. My mom likes to point them out to me when I visit as how I've "become so American". 😁 Some of you may not see it, and that's okay, but don't discount the experience of those of us who do. 

I'm American (granted, an immigrant who has lived here a long time) and I've seen almost everything that the non-Americans have - including the stereotypical drunk Aussies 🤣 (how do people not know that this is a stereotype of a section of Australians!?! LOL!) I know America and Americans very well and still have the same opinions of the non-Americans on this thread. I don't think it's ignorance or lack of knowledge, just their experience.

 

So what's the deal, do you reckon, with the extreme levels of offence taken by some in this thread ? Given you, an American, have perceptions that closely map to international perceptions ? "Cos I still don't get it. 

Re the bolded, IKR ??!!

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6 hours ago, importswim said:

 

Most Americans that I know (hence my experience, and opinion 😂) intellectually understand from a macro view that people all over the world live differently, however, in small ways and in regular conversation show that they don't actually understand that deep down. I'm an immigrant and have been surprised (but then not...) at how many times people have assumed that my home country has similar laws/holidays/commercial enterprises/thought processes, etc... to here. When I point out the truth (that they don't) then they sort of slap their heads and say "of course!" but in my experience it really is a mindset that's ingrained. Heck, I've lived here 29 years and I have developed some of those patterns of thinking. My mom likes to point them out to me when I visit as how I've "become so American". 😁 Some of you may not see it, and that's okay, but don't discount the experience of those of us who do. 

I'm American (granted, an immigrant who has lived here a long time) and I've seen almost everything that the non-Americans have - including the stereotypical drunk Aussies 🤣 (how do people not know that this is a stereotype of a section of Australians!?! LOL!) I know America and Americans very well and still have the same opinions of the non-Americans on this thread. I don't think it's ignorance or lack of knowledge, just their experience.

This is human nature when faced with very little experience.  

For 13 years, I had 1 child.  I was the parent of an only.  And most parents of only children that I have interacted with get really really irked off when people say things like "well you only have one, that's not real parenting."  I know I did.  

Now, I have 3 kids ages 11 and under at home.  And one fully launched adult child.

 

 

 

 

And, I get it.  I *knew* parenting more than one kid was different than parenting an only.  That's like obvious right?  And I was the oldest of 4 so it's not like I had no experience with having siblings, or babysitting multiple kids, etc etc.   But then, once I actually had a GROUP of kids, I really truly understood the dynamic.  I really understood that it's actually a whole other world of parenting.  There's nothing wrong with having only kids.  But parents of only kids really can't truly deep down understand just how different the entire family dynamic is when there is more than one.  

 

I mentioned earlier in the thread that travel is something that isn't possible to a lot of American citizens.  For many people, when they travel internationally, it's a once in a lifetime event. Those two weeks or whatever they spend in another country, those may be the only 2 weeks they spend outside the US in their lives.  On top of that, for most of us here in flyover country...............we aren't getting tourists.  When people from other countries come to the US, they want to see things like the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, The Mouse, etc etc etc.  And if they do come to the middle of the country, they are generally only coming for a specific event and don't venture outside that.  So many of the people who end up travelling to other countries on their once in a lifetime trips are going to be the same people who rarely receive tourists (American or not) in the first place.  The level of experience is very low in many cases and without actual experience.......it can be difficult to develop real deep understanding.

 

It's not that people who don't have that deep understanding are trying to be obtuse or carry certain stereotypes that everyone is like us.  Its just that many people in the US, by virtue of means or location or a combination of factors, have very little real world experience with people who aren't American.  

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15 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

I would have to be pretty darn stupid to think I knew an entire country because I watched Parks and Recreation one time.

Only 1 episode? It gets better. 

 

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5 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

It's not that people who don't have that deep understanding are trying to be obtuse or carry certain stereotypes that everyone is like us.  Its just that many people in the US, by virtue of means or location or a combination of factors, have very little real world experience with people who aren't American.  

And it's surprising to many Americans from places with higher levels of diversity that a significant percentage of Americans do not regularly interact with minorities because there aren't any in their area.  It's mind blowing. It came up in another thread last year.

They're exactly the crowd that needs to tune in when people who do have that kind of experience tell them about phenomena such as group identities, impressions, conscientious representation, and the like when they're around other cultures.  But plenty dig in and insist they don't give a rip what anyone thinks of them and it's  their vacation, and how tragic it is that an American would rather blend to cultural norms than stand out. 

We're basically giving the classic parental lecture:  "Life isn't fair,  [some people will make  negative generalizations about Americans when American tourists behave badly by their standards] but you have to be fair" [by going to the trouble to learn dos and don'ts in your destination from an authoritative source and abide by them while never giving in to the temptation to stereotype others ] that we have with our kids in different contexts. There's a variation on that conversation that anyone who wore a team/band/organization shirt at school heard from the coach/teacher/leader that goes, "If you are wearing your shirt and break rules on campus or a law off campus, you're out.  No exceptions.  We don't need our name associated with that kind of behavior." We can't take away anyone's citizenship for it, but the same principle applies-don't make our organization look bad by behaving badly.

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4 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

And it's surprising to many Americans from places with higher levels of diversity that a significant percentage of Americans do not regularly interact with minorities because there aren't any in their area.  It's mind blowing. It came up in another thread last year.
 

There's a difference between "experience with people who aren't American" and interacting "with minorities"  Plenty of people belonging to minority groups are still American.  Plenty of people who are American still grow up under the same laws, celebrate the same holidays, have the same traditions, speak the same language etc etc.  And plenty of people all over the country have experience "interacting with minorities" but that doesn't mean they have experience with completely different cultures.  I suppose that's why they call it culture shock.

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1 hour ago, StellaM said:

So what's the deal, do you reckon, with the extreme levels of offence taken by some in this thread ? Given you, an American, have perceptions that closely map to international perceptions ? "Cos I still don't get it. 

Re the bolded, IKR ??!!

Three factors: 
1. They're likely not people who interact with highly diverse subgroups in their area.  I don't just mean racially diverse, I mean culturally diverse. They're not used to lots of very different ways to view and do something. They're not certainly used to hearing people tell them they should modify their behavior for someone else's sake.

2. There are political tectonic plates under American views of international issues, which could easily shift into a heated political debate, which would take this thread places many people on both sides don't want it to go.  You're seeing a mild quake. People are being restrained out of respect for the site. We're all pretty frazzled here with politics whether we're on the left, the right, or like me, neither. Another election year is gearing up and no one is looking forward to it.

3. They're from parts of the US where candid, straightforward talk about difficult issues is not normative. Some of us are accustomed to someone saying, "So what's the deal with the elephant in this room?" and having people respond, "I know, right? Here's the thing about this elephant ...." and then a candid discussion about the elephant ensues and the elephant goes away or remains, or whatever, but it was all passionately hashed out and everyone had their say, all sides were represented.  Others have been trained from early on to go to great lengths to avoid speaking of the elephant in the room because they were taught that it's mean or bad or rude or might upset someone.

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16 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

There's a difference between "experience with people who aren't American" and interacting "with minorities"  Plenty of people belonging to minority groups are still American.  Plenty of people who are American still grow up under the same laws, celebrate the same holidays, have the same traditions, speak the same language etc etc.  And plenty of people all over the country have experience "interacting with minorities" but that doesn't mean they have experience with completely different cultures.  I suppose that's why they call it culture shock.

Yes, but interacting with a minority culture is a good baby step in awareness. Some minority cultures are very different. Some Native American cultures sure are.  By interacting with them, even though they are still Americans, it can be a paradigm shift for people.  If someone living in the US is so different, then someone not living in the US could be even more different.

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5 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Three factors: 
1. They're likely not people who interact with highly diverse subgroups in their area.  I don't just mean racially diverse, I mean culturally diverse. They're not used to lots of very different ways to view and do something. They're not certainly used to hearing people tell them they should modify their behavior for someone else's sake.

Diverse subgroups are very different than completely different country.  Although the US has a LOT of different cultural subgroups, the truth is, there's a lot of underlying culture that is truly American.

 

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51 minutes ago, Paige said:

Only 1 episode? It gets better. 

 

 

haha, we're actually on our third summer watch of all the seasons. 

(But I still don't think that lets me 'know' America!)

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20 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Three factors: 
1. They're likely not people who interact with highly diverse subgroups in their area.  I don't just mean racially diverse, I mean culturally diverse. They're not used to lots of very different ways to view and do something. They're not certainly used to hearing people tell them they should modify their behavior for someone else's sake.

2. There are political tectonic plates under American views of international issues, which could easily shift into a heated political debate, which would take this thread places many people on both sides don't want it to go.  You're seeing a mild quake. People are being restrained out of respect for the site. We're all pretty frazzled here with politics whether we're on the left, the right, or like me, neither. Another election year is gearing up and no one is looking forward to it.

3. They're from parts of the US where candid, straightforward talk about difficult issues is not normative. Some of us are accustomed to someone saying, "So what's the deal with the elephant in this room?" and having people respond, "I know, right? Here's the thing about this elephant ...." and then a candid discussion about the elephant ensues and the elephant goes away or remains, or whatever, but it was all passionately hashed out and everyone had their say, all sides were represented.  Others have been trained from early on to go to great lengths to avoid speaking of the elephant in the room because they were taught that it's mean or bad or rude or might upset someone.

 

Thanks for answering.

No. 3 makes a lot of sense. 

 

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13 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

Diverse subgroups are very different than completely different country.  Although the US has a LOT of different cultural subgroups, the truth is, there's a lot of underlying culture that is truly American.

 

You read that part where I didn't equate the two, right? I never said they were the same.  My point is so many Americans aren't even used to different Americans, they have no concept of the kind of echo chamber they live in.  Some are even farther behind than just not used to dealing with different foreign cultures.   Americans that do deal with different minority cultures typically have a sense of difference and are more likely to grasp that the differences with foreigners is likely to be greater, so they can more readily accept that finding out about the cultural norms at their travel destination is a necessity. I was addressing the source of the "I don't give a rip what someone else would think of my behavior" attitude because they've actually never had to deal with it before on any meaningful level.  People who have had to deal with it on even a very small scale are more likely to accept that there is a larger scale version of it and they're responsible for learning about it.

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I did read it, but I think you are discussing a different topic than I am.  

As I said, I live in flyover country.  I graduated from that high school.  KKK grand dragons lived in places I lived in.

But I have never ever experienced "I don't give a rip what someone else thinks of my behavior" except for those people who are @$$holes.  And, @$$holes exist in every culture.....it's not a feature of Americans who are inexperienced with other countries.  

 

You specifically responded to by post about experience with different countries with a post about lack of experience with dealing with minorities.  I want to be clear that I think those to things are very very different.  I think baby steps don't sub in for real world experience.  I think that even those Americans who DO have experience dealing with various sub cultures, maybe because they live in the southwest, or in NYC or whatever.....................they are still very likely to lack a very real understanding of the difference in culture that exist when they travel to another country.  

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I disagree that everyone in Australia needs to understand US culture because the US has a different political / economic / overall population situation.  People in Australia and many other countries can and do have plenty of misperceptions and have the option to just not give a crap what we are like.  I mean what's gonna happen to you if you don't know how I live my life?  Nothing, as long as you don't spout off a bunch of nonsense about me, and then the only thing that can happen is I can spout back.

I hear you saying that the US position in the world is a motivator for your feelings and interests, but that doesn't make any material difference to you or me.  Unless you can explain to me what you gain or lose from knowing or not knowing.

 

Edited by SKL

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10 minutes ago, SKL said:

I disagree that everyone in Australia needs to understand US culture because the US has a different political / economic / overall population situation.  People in Australia and many other countries can and do have plenty of misperceptions and have the option to just not give a crap what we are like.  I mean what's gonna happen to you if you don't know how I live my life?  Nothing, as long as you don't spout off a bunch of nonsense about me, and then the only thing that can happen is I can spout back.

I hear you saying that the US position in the world is a motivator for your feelings and interests, but that doesn't make any material difference to you or me.  Unless you can explain to me what you gain or lose from knowing or not knowing.

 

We have a saying in my country, when the U.S. sneezes we catch a cold. What happens in the U.S. directly impacts my country's economy. So yes, I have a vested interest.

If that is a considered a political post, please let me know so I can delete.

Edited by Islandgal
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2 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

So what's the deal, do you reckon, with the extreme levels of offence taken by some in this thread ? Given you, an American, have perceptions that closely map to international perceptions ? "Cos I still don't get it. 

Re the bolded, IKR ??!!

Stella, I like interacting with you online.

You started your posting in this thread with a whole lot of qualifications.  You then followed with a whole lot of thoughts along the lines of 'aussies think americans are too sensitive.'  And I would like to suggest that perhaps you are applying your own cultural opinion of what people should be able to discuss is blinding you to what might be a touch of your own level of offense.  It seems as if the very idea that someone might disagree with your opinion of their own culture is, well....extreme.  

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8 minutes ago, Islandgal said:

We have a saying in my country, when the U.S. sneezes we catch a cold. What happens in the U.S. directly impacts my country's economy. So, yes, I have a vested interest.

So it matters whether I wear white shoes or smile at my neighbors or like Thai food?  I can see that you are affected by what our state department and military do, but not what private citizens do.  Being interested in the latter is a choice, just as my being very interested in people in other countries is a choice.

ETA I guess if we bought a lot of things from your country and that changed, yeah, that would affect you.  I don't think that's the case for Australia, but I could see it being true in some countries.

Edited by SKL
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7 minutes ago, Islandgal said:

We have a saying in my country, when the U.S. sneezes we catch a cold. What happens in the U.S. directly impacts my country's economy. So yes, I have a vested interest.

If that is a considered a political post, please let me know so I can delete.

The US is a country of several hundred million people.  Politically, sure, what happens in the US might directly impact your country.  But, how an individual (or even group tour) American interacts when touring your country.....not so much.  

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58 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Three factors: 
1. They're likely not people who interact with highly diverse subgroups in their area.  I don't just mean racially diverse, I mean culturally diverse. They're not used to lots of very different ways to view and do something. They're not certainly used to hearing people tell them they should modify their behavior for someone else's sake.

2. There are political tectonic plates under American views of international issues, which could easily shift into a heated political debate, which would take this thread places many people on both sides don't want it to go.  You're seeing a mild quake. People are being restrained out of respect for the site. We're all pretty frazzled here with politics whether we're on the left, the right, or like me, neither. Another election year is gearing up and no one is looking forward to it.

3. They're from parts of the US where candid, straightforward talk about difficult issues is not normative. Some of us are accustomed to someone saying, "So what's the deal with the elephant in this room?" and having people respond, "I know, right? Here's the thing about this elephant ...." and then a candid discussion about the elephant ensues and the elephant goes away or remains, or whatever, but it was all passionately hashed out and everyone had their say, all sides were represented.  Others have been trained from early on to go to great lengths to avoid speaking of the elephant in the room because they were taught that it's mean or bad or rude or might upset someone.

 

Or, this discussion is just considered offensive to many Americans. Many of us interact daily with minorities and have very diverse families even but have been culturally conditioned that taking experiences we've had with select people from a certain nationality and extrapolating that to a stereotype for an entire nation group is wrong. 

It's not our fault that people from other countries have very misinformed and incorrect assumptions about us and aren't willing to admit that and learn the truth. 

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The other thing is the pot calling the kettle black.  "You people are boors.  And I'll never forgive you for what happened before you were born."  "You can't call all of us boors, you don't even know most of us."  "How dare you get offended!  I am offended that you're offended.  I want an apology!"

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In re tourism and perceptions, this thread led me to recall a time when I was traveling in Europe with my sort of boyfriend who was from Australia.  

At one restaurant that catered to tourists the servers had flags to put on tables (perhaps to indicate language, I really don’t know why)— anyway they started by putting an American flag on ours.    And there was a tense silence and sort of angry vibe from surrounding tables.  But my then boyfriend shook his head and said we needed an Australian flag.  When the American flag got replaced with the Australian flag there was actually hand clapping from nearby tables, smiles, and a welcoming warmer feeling and behaviors from people around.  

Nothing had changed about us except the flags. We were still dressed the same.  We were taking up the same space with our same speech and manners and mannerisms...

 

 

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2 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

So what's the deal, do you reckon, with the extreme levels of offence taken by some in this thread ? Given you, an American, have perceptions that closely map to international perceptions ? "Cos I still don't get it. 

 

So to just directly ask you and get this clarified, I did not read every post in this long thread carefully.  However, of the parts I did read, I did not perceive any extreme levels of offense.   I did not feel such a feeling myself.

Could you please clarify or answer with quotes that seem to you to be extreme levels of offense?  Was this common in your opinion or just a few people?

Do you perceive me as one of the posters showing extreme levels of offense?

 

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14 minutes ago, Pen said:

 

So to just directly ask you and get this clarified, I did not read every post in this long thread carefully.  However, of the parts I did read, I did not perceive any extreme levels of offense.   I did not feel such a feeling myself.

Could you please clarify or answer with quotes that seem to you to be extreme levels of offense?  Was this common in your opinion or just a few people?

Do you perceive me as one of the posters showing extreme levels of offense?

 

 

 Last question first, no, nor would I expect you to be one of those posters.

Second last question, no. Those posts are available to all on this thread, and are easily read and understood by anyone who is interested. I don't feel a need to do the work of going back and finding each example and reposting them. 

In my opinion, more posters than not expressed minor or absent levels of offence, but those who took offence did so with personal insults directed at individual posters, and international posters as a whole, and lied about individual posters and their motivations.  Putting 5 or 6 such posters on ignore improved the readability of the thread immensely.

IMO, posters here should not be allowed to call a group in the minority (international posters) bigots and have that post allowed to stand by the mods (yes mods, I know I'm not meant to talk about moderation, delete this sentence if required).

Importantly, the only person I feel answerable to on this thread is the OP, and the OP and I are good.

 

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58 minutes ago, Islandgal said:

We have a saying in my country, when the U.S. sneezes we catch a cold. What happens in the U.S. directly impacts my country's economy. So yes, I have a vested interest.

If that is a considered a political post, please let me know so I can delete.

 

Exactly. It's a fact, not a political opinion. We have the exact same saying. Because it's true 😞

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35 minutes ago, Pen said:

 

In re tourism and perceptions, this thread led me to recall a time when I was traveling in Europe with my sort of boyfriend who was from Australia.  

At one restaurant that catered to tourists the servers had flags to put on tables (perhaps to indicate language, I really don’t know why)— anyway they started by putting an American flag on ours.    And there was a tense silence and sort of angry vibe from surrounding tables.  But my then boyfriend shook his head and said we needed an Australian flag.  When the American flag got replaced with the Australian flag there was actually hand clapping from nearby tables, smiles, and a welcoming warmer feeling and behaviors from people around.  

Nothing had changed about us except the flags. We were still dressed the same.  We were taking up the same space with our same speech and manners and mannerisms...

 

 

 

Yes. As I've said (and others have said), America and Americans are often not perceived well in the rest of the world.

People are free to have an opinion on whether that's deserved, deserved sometimes or not deserved at all, but the story doesn't surprise me.

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52 minutes ago, kdsuomi said:

 

Or, this discussion is just considered offensive to many Americans. Many of us interact daily with minorities and have very diverse families even but have been culturally conditioned that taking experiences we've had with select people from a certain nationality and extrapolating that to a stereotype for an entire nation group is wrong. 

It's not our fault that people from other countries have very misinformed and incorrect assumptions about us and aren't willing to admit that and learn the truth. 

 

What's the 'truth' ?

Sitting here, have time to listen.

What is the 'truth' about Americans ?

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1 hour ago, happysmileylady said:

Stella, I like interacting with you online.

You started your posting in this thread with a whole lot of qualifications.  You then followed with a whole lot of thoughts along the lines of 'aussies think americans are too sensitive.'  And I would like to suggest that perhaps you are applying your own cultural opinion of what people should be able to discuss is blinding you to what might be a touch of your own level of offense.  It seems as if the very idea that someone might disagree with your opinion of their own culture is, well....extreme.  

 

But not all American posters agree with this. 

Some (the majority posting) don't see any offence at all.

The OP hasn't found what I said offensive. She said it stung on a first read, but not on the second.  The OP (an American) and I are all good.

So why would I prioritise your claim of 'blind offense' ? It's hardly a unanimous perspective.

This is also an example of taking general observations, and making them personal. I was very clear that I was not talking about people on WTM. But here, you are singling out one poster for 'blind rudeness', when in fact nothing I said differs in substance from anything said by other international posters , and  I have not been the bluntest of the international posters either. So why are you addressing this to me, personally ?

 

 

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1 hour ago, kdsuomi said:

It's not our fault that people from other countries have very misinformed and incorrect assumptions about us and aren't willing to admit that and learn the truth. 

Maybe it  is just my Aussie English dialect translation,  what a funny thing to say about all other countries. but this just about sums it up, this attitude about the rest of the world.

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

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11 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

Maybe it  is just my Aussie English dialect translation,  what a funny thing to say about all other countries. but this just about sums it up, this attitude about the rest of the world.

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

 

It's funny, I wouldn't have pegged WTM as the place to find that attitude. You live and learn.

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3 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

But I have never ever experienced "I don't give a rip what someone else thinks of my behavior" except for those people who are @$$holes.  And, @$$holes exist in every culture.....it's not a feature of Americans who are inexperienced with other countries.  

 

You specifically responded to by post about experience with different countries with a post about lack of experience with dealing with minorities.  I want to be clear that I think those to things are very very different.  I think baby steps don't sub in for real world experience.  I think that even those Americans who DO have experience dealing with various sub cultures, maybe because they live in the southwest, or in NYC or whatever.....................they are still very likely to lack a very real understanding of the difference in culture that exist when they travel to another country.  

That attitude is in this thread.  I'm paraphrasing, but it's here.

We're talking about American a$$hole tourists on this thread, because that's what this thread is about.  I have stories about Germans at the Grand Canyon and Chinese tourists in PHX, DC, and CA. This thread isn't about a German or Chinese person asking how not to be an a$$hole tourist in America.  If it were, I'd tell those stories and offer advice, just like the international crowd did when the OP specifically asked them to:

OP: What are commly held impressions of Americans abroad and how can I make a good impression as an American tourist?
Internationals: Don't do X, Y, and Z-internationals don't like those things. Do A, B, and C-it goes over better.
Some WTM posters: I don't do that, so your points aren't valid, and even if some do it isn't America's problem, it's small minded locals who stereotype people. 

Yes, yes, yes. We all heard you that you think they're different.  I think they're different too and said so.  You're choosing to dismiss that.  That's on you.

We all know full well few Americans have the time and money to travel internationally. That isn't going to change anytime soon-it's actually becoming less likely for most of them with housing costs rising, income stagnant for most people, Social Security running out of money, skyrocketing healthcare costs, skyrocketing college costs, inadequate 401Ks, etc.   Most people I know who have paid time off (not the majority of people I know) get 1-2 weeks at most.  They can't always use those weeks together. Most spend some of it on sick time if they have kids and its a bad flu year. Most of them spend it traveling to see their own families who don't live locally if they have time left over. 

So some Americans' only chance of re-calibrating their concept of different is local minorities, usually immigrants or their near descendants in many places.  It's an opportunity not to be missed and it has its own value and can make some impact.  Maybe not anywhere near as much as you like with international travel,  but enough to motivate them to ask about differences if they ever get the chance to travel abroad. The people who haven't traveled abroad who can hear that learning about the local cultural norms beforehand often do so because they've interacted with other subcultures.  I was explaining why some people just can't even hear it. I personally know people who started to grasp the idea of different when they came to a place with minority subcultures and spent time with them.  Acknowledging it isn't equating them.

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4 hours ago, SKL said:

So it matters whether I wear white shoes or smile at my neighbors or like Thai food?  I can see that you are affected by what our state department and military do, but not what private citizens do.  Being interested in the latter is a choice, just as my being very interested in people in other countries is a choice.

ETA I guess if we bought a lot of things from your country and that changed, yeah, that would affect you.  I don't think that's the case for Australia, but I could see it being true in some countries.

So for one example

and this is political I guess 

Us assassinated a dude in Iran 
 

now we have people on the way to Iraq and our fuel prices are going nuts. Even though we currently have a pretty major national crisis.  (Though us is helping with that so thank you.  On the other hand our share prices are better as I understand it because you made a trade agreement with China (though my economics are shaky so I might have that wrong)

the entire population of Australia is slightly more than half than the population of California.

i don’t think there’s much we can do politically that effects you guys directly.  I don’t think most average Americans necessarily pay that much attention to the elections here though I may be wrong.  We do because everything US does has a direct effect down here.  When your president makes some economic decisions that effects our dollar and translates directly to my family budget when I buy the school books for the year.

obviously US is not the only factor here China is a big factor as well as are many different countries but it has a bigger impact.

i have no idea if that’s what Stella is talking about but that’s what I see from my place.  If it’s too political I’ll pull it down but I don’t think it’s partisan it’s just about how things play out on a world stage.  Obviously this has nothing to do with each individual I guess apart from the way they vote.  

Edited by Ausmumof3
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4 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

 Last question first, no, nor would I expect you to be one of those posters.

Second last question, no. Those posts are available to all on this thread, and are easily read and understood by anyone who is interested. I don't feel a need to do the work of going back and finding each example and reposting them. 

In my opinion, more posters than not expressed minor or absent levels of offence, but those who took offence did so with personal insults directed at individual posters, and international posters as a whole, and lied about individual posters and their motivations.  Putting 5 or 6 such posters on ignore improved the readability of the thread immensely.

IMO, posters here should not be allowed to call a group in the minority (international posters) bigots and have that post allowed to stand by the mods (yes mods, I know I'm not meant to talk about moderation, delete this sentence if required).

Importantly, the only person I feel answerable to on this thread is the OP, and the OP and I are good.

 

 

Ok thanks.  Glad to have it not be me.  

 

————-

@fairfarmhand  in re impression when abroad, I’d add that some nationalities / places tend to be more lenient toward us USA American people than others.

One of my grandmothers was born in France .  No wait, Paris, this could be a Paris issue not a France issue.  Anyway French or Parisians seemed IME much less tolerant of faux pas, no French, poor French, etc,  while people from some other places (many places in South America, for example) tended to be much nicer and really appreciative about efforts to learn even a smattering of their language and to do things right.  

 For work, I sometimes had to communicate with people in several different countries and found substantial differences.  French Québécois were much nicer in general about my butchered attempts at French, than people in Paris were in my experience.  Either way, a whole lot of , begging forgiveness, “I seem to be in great difficulty, is there any possible chance that you or someone there could help me ...”.  “Excusez moi, je vous en priez.  ... “ and explanation that I speak no French (in French) was helpful.    “Je ne parle rien francais,  Which despite a French speaking grandmere and several years of school French was basically true, tended to get some assistance.  And a bunch of subjunctive whether in English or French like “I would like to speak to Mr  ____  / Je voudrais parler avec Mssr. ____”

(Not like how in USA it might be straight to “Please connect me to Mr Smith” which unless tone indicates rudeness probably seems polite to US ears but elsewhere could seem like a brusque, rude demand. )

Sort of similar to how several of us have said tended to be needed in UK: long politeness intros, rather than more direct language.  

Less extreme in some other places, but learning some basic nicety phrases, “por  favor” “gracias” etc was often very helpful.  

I nearly always studied at least a small amount of the language of any place I went and read about culture before going there. 

I also tried to do that when working with people from other countries.    This was before smartphones and YouTube—so now probably easier to do, even from Midwest flyover or parts of South that don’t tend to be cosmopolitan.

The 4 statements in Louise Penny’s books that Inspector Gamache teaches his protégés are often also helpful I think.  Let’s see, hmm, maybe someone else here will remember them all. but along lines of:

I don’t know.  I’m sorry. Forgive me.  I need help.

and “please” with the last two helps

and asking someone from a specific place you’ll be going, whether here, or elsewhere online, or a university International House in person if there are such where you are can also help

 

Edited by Pen

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52 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Us assassinated a dude in Iran 
 

 

and a plane* with 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents got shot down as a direct consequence.   No survivors.

"Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."  - A Famous Canadian in 1969. 

*To be clear: A commercial airline plane full of civilians.

Edited by wathe
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7 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

This is human nature when faced with very little experience.  

It's not that people who don't have that deep understanding are trying to be obtuse or carry certain stereotypes that everyone is like us.  Its just that many people in the US, by virtue of means or location or a combination of factors, have very little real world experience with people who aren't American.  

That's definitely true! The majority of Americans that I am friends with right now in the area that I live in have not traveled outside the US. I thought your analogy of parenting only one child was a great one. 🙂 

7 hours ago, StellaM said:

 

So what's the deal, do you reckon, with the extreme levels of offence taken by some in this thread ? Given you, an American, have perceptions that closely map to international perceptions ? "Cos I still don't get it. 

Re the bolded, IKR ??!!

Nope! Nuh uh. Not touching that one with a ten foot pole. 😂🤣😂

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37 minutes ago, wathe said:

and a plane with 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents got shot down as a direct consequence.   No survivors.

"Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."  - A Famous Canadian in 1969. 

 

He was a mass murderer planning more mass murders, And the Iranians shot down the plane because they did had some complete idiots in control of the missiles or they did it as a deliberate action.  The Iranian govt is evil and spreads evil  Even their own citizens are rebelling.

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I don't dispute that Iranian dude was a baddie.  The point is that when USA acts (in this case, as far as we know, unilaterally, without consulting or even warning allies), other smaller countries bear a significant share of the consequences. 

Edited by wathe
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On 1/15/2020 at 5:54 PM, MercyA said:

[SNIP]

The Pledge runs counter to my beliefs as a Christian, too. And, in any case, it is a lie. There is not freedom and justice for all. Anyone who thinks there is isn't paying attention.

 

I don't like the pledge because someone(s) decided to insert the idea of our nation being "under God".  I'm not on board with that.

And I agree with you about the lie.  I prefer to think of it as an aspiration.

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So, just to recap, this is not principally about offensive American tourist behaviors/attitudes but objectionable foreign policy perspectives/actions (that at least half of Americans disapprove of), overweight bodies, audible joy at being OCONUS, and white orthotic shoes.

If this had remained a conversation about uncouth tourist behaviors (which I have also observed) and how to advise future travelers, I wouldn’t have taken any offense, but it didn’t and it hasn’t. 

Edited by Sneezyone
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