America

bella123456

New member
This forum seems largely dominated by North Americans.

Which...is fine, and probably shouldn't be an issue.
The reason I bring it up is because I host couchsurfers from all over the world. Total strangers stay in my home and tell me about their times and their travels. They tell me about where they have been and what they have learnt.

And pretty much every single one of them is scared of America, and American culture. I don't know if that is based on not being able to seperate culture from politics and foreign policy maybe.

I'm travelling to America in a couple of months....largely to see NY city, and also I want to drive through the deserts on the west coast....And I really want to meet some americans. I know only a couple and they are both dear to me :)

But never in my life have I heard or felt such significant cultural avoidance.

I have travelled extensively in the middle east and felt completely at home, I was invited into muslims homes at least every second day, and I always took those invites. I've travelled through asia, and also felt completely at home.
I have a fear of travelling in America.....as the culture gap seems the most significant...despite the fact I come from a country that is western, and outwardly sympathetic to US foreign policy.

As vulnerable as this may sound....I want to ask, Every traveller that comes through my home expresses disappointment with american culture, we are all worried about the fact you guys can carry guns, every traveller comments that the food servings are too big, that the wastage is too much. Yes, I'm talking stereotypes....but the fact that these conversations happen with every european, or asian.....

I'd like to ask some Americans about their view on their culture. And if they have the chance to "check in".

I'm asking as I want to be pushed away from a stereotype. Please push me.

Years ago friends of mine travelled through the states and were often asked "oh, did you drive here from australia?"
I'm aware I have a steroetype that is unhealthy, and I'd like to work on getting rid of it.
Apologies in advance for the negative. Let's talk about it...
 

RfromRMC

New member
Sadly, many stereotypes have a basis from truth. :eek:

With Americans, there's no one culture really any more. It's a big country and there's regional differences for starters. But also even within those smaller regions, there are other divides.

I'm from North Carolina and I often joke there are three states here...the conservative/provincial Rural, the Mundane Suburban, and the progressive Urban. And really, you'll probably find similar divides in many other parts of the US too....although I admit I'm simplifying things greatly.

As a gay man (and poly!), I try to avoid the provincial, conservative and mundane areas as much as humanly possible. I only really feel comfortable in the cities and other progressive or enlightened areas...they tend to be less likely to reflect those negative stereotypes you mention.
And of course the education level and religious beliefs make a huge difference too!
Sadly, many Americans will find some of these opinions "elitist" or whatever else Fox News tells them to think....but really, it's what I personally observe on a regular basis.
 
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LovingRadiance

Active member
I live in Alaska and frankly-it's a common topic of discussion here that "the lower 48" (states in the mainland area of U.S.) are so much more closed-minded and bad to live in as far as dealing with people go (weather is better generally).

FYI-I've also heard it said that it's fairly disrespectful to refer to the US as "America" as it discludes Canadians & Mexican's (who are in Northern America and therefore American's as well). Do'nt know how our Canadian buddies on this board feel-but thought I'd mention it.

As for the food servings-totally true. In fact, I have PURPOSEFULLY stopped eating everything served if I go out-because I can generally get 3 meals out of it.
Waste-absolutely true. It's asinine.

The thing is-that just because it's common-doesn't mean that it's everyone. It's not everyone. I'm surrounded by people who are conscientious and careful about the environment, their health, other people's health etc.

You have to look at the people individually. Like a previous poster said-there are also "cultures" within the smaller areas. Not only regional, not only state or city, but even within smaller cities there are subcultures.

I live in Wasilla, Alaska. Obviously a big spot for "Palin supporters" and yet there is a HUGE group of "Obama supporters" and another large group that are anti BOTH sides! We can't even really be called a "city" by normal definitions for the country-but there are definitely different cultures even in the smaller groups. ;)

My father in law is in New York City. I've never met a man who is nicer, sweeter, kinder, more helpful in my entire life.
 

bella123456

New member
Very interesting responses. Thank you - It's nice to have some anecdotal stories from you...and inward views. It can be weird when you only hear things from the outside !

FYI-I've also heard it said that it's fairly disrespectful to refer to the US as "America" as it discludes Canadians & Mexican's (who are in Northern America and therefore American's as well). Do'nt know how our Canadian buddies on this board feel-but thought I'd mention it.

Thanks for pointing that out. It's a common abbreviation used in conversation by non-US peoples in my experience.
It's good to learn that abbreviation actually has negative or disrespectful tones to it. This is exactly the cultural learning I was after. Yay !
Sorry. I certainly don't mean any disrespect.

Is there a feeling in the US that the GFC may change values ? I know so many people there have been hurt by it, and continue to be so.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
I don't know what GFC is. I'm sorry. :(

It's a common thing here to call it "America" as well. I was on another forum and it caused quite a big "battle" because it was seen as disrespectful and arrogant (by the Canadian and Mexican posters) that the U.S. citizens called themselves American's. As if they (we) thought we were the only ones that mattered.

ANYWAY! I hope that you enjoy your trip! There are many good and wonderful things to see and wonderful people to meet.
I hope to someday go to Australia. For some reason, since my 10 year old was born, I've always wanted to take him there. :)
 

bella123456

New member
Oh, right...sorry - GFC may just be a term used here. It's an abbreviation we use for the Global financial crisis.

And thanks for the trip wishes....We are very much looking forward to it. Another thing I hear about is how hospitable the people are, so....I do hear loads of positives too !

I'm taking my 10 year old with me :) He's even got some US dollars saved !

I hope you do make it to Australia - I'm sure you would love it ! Tis a tad hot at present though..
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
We will, eventually. But not before the 3 year old is a little older. :)

I think you will find that a lot of the "rumors" are true, but that there are lots of things that aren't rumored that are true also. ;)

I don't know about the GFC. I'm honestly not highly involved in politics. I have a....(I don't know the word...)I just don't think that there is anything good going to come of anything regarding politics. I'm of the opinion that it all needs to be thrown out and started over. :(

Not much help in that arena. Sorry!
 

BrigidsDaughter

New member
I'm from what we've always called "upstate" New York, but there are those who live further upstate that call it "central" New York. It's very regional here. I've also lived in Manhattan, KS;in the middle of the bible belt. There are nice people in both places, there are also assholes.

As for your concerns about guns, in my neck of the woods (literally), guns are for hunting. There are some people who own a pistol or rifle for protection of their land/ property. The further south and west you go (IMO and from personal experience) the more likely you are to notice people carrying guns on them, but not every "American" carries a weapon.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
Up here in Alaska it's not uncommon at all to see a rifle rack full-in the back of pick up trucks.
But-it's also not uncommon to see bear or moose on the side of the road. ;)

There are MANY people in Alaska who would be HIGHLY offended if someone tried to come in and take away their right to own and carry firearms. At the same time, I haven't seen too many people in fear for their lives on account of it.
 

polychronopolous

New member
Meh, stereotypes... I could only advise to look at everyone as individuals. I live in Texas. No matter where you live in the states, or abroad, you would probably expect a few stereotypes to apply to me right away. But I don't drive a large gas guzzling vehicle, don't own a single gun, am neither Republican nor Democrat, don't eat at barbecue joints, don't hunt, don't have a Texan accent, etc. I wasn't born in the U.S. but I have lived in the states most of my life. I was born in London, England and have lived in about nine european countries and Mexico, before spending 21 years in California (and a few other states here and there)

Point is, there are all kinds of people from all over the world, and all over this country, all mixed in together wherever you go here. Yes, some people here suck, but others are quite worth meeting. Just don't judge us all by the first asshole you meet in the airport on a return from a business trip, talking to his fellow pseudo-awesome pretentious friend on the bluetooth in his ear, while apparently lacking in any social filter...

We don't like him either ;)

Phoenix
 

brainfreezy

New member
Having been outside of the US and interacted with people, I've run into those stereotypes too. A lot of them are true to a point, some not. While trading stereotypes with an Australian man, I mentioned that a lot of folks in the US assume Aussies are all strong handsome burly dudes like Crocodile Dundee. He said that was funny because a lot of Aussies think Americans are all like John Wayne... In the end we thought there were probably worse things to be stereotyped for :p.

Anyway in all seriousness, we're raised to believe that even with all our problems we're the best place in the world. Of course, (as Lewis Black mentioned in one of his routines), if you haven't been outside the US that can slip from mere proud patriotism to elite isolationism, and we're the new kid on the block, which unfortunately makes us come off as pretentious pricks sometimes. (Not his words: Black used a lot more swearing in his version and I'm trying to cut back).

As has been mentioned above, most of us haven't been outside of the United States and the place is so big you could travel all over the place and meet 1000 different cultures and still not leave the country or primary language. This is where the rest of the world has an advantage, (especially you Europeans). I've been lucky enough to travel and meet citizens from other places and it really opens your mind up to how the world works as a whole. But I always love coming home too. I find that bashing one country over another doesn't really accomplish anything, and only limits other people's abilities to decide for themselves by going and seeing firsthand.

So when you meet one of us in your country out and about, chances are its their *very first* time outside (business travelers rarely get out and do the touristy thing), so take them with a grain of salt. They're out of their element. If you folks come here, you will be well-fed, perfectly safe, (and if you come to Colorado, you can shoot my guns if you want, (we have dedicated ranges with safety officers and everything)). Ultimately we love a good time, however it takes shape.

That said, God bless the USA and everyone else too.
 

bella123456

New member
Just don't judge us all by the first asshole you meet in the airport on a return from a business trip, talking to his fellow pseudo-awesome pretentious friend on the bluetooth in his ear, while apparently lacking in any social filter...

That's very funny !

It is interesting to hear people talk about their own country...widens perception to be sure !
 

Somegeezer

New member
I'd love to hear what the US, Canada and Australia think about England. =P I don't think I really know any Canadians very well myself, but I know many Australians and people from all over the US. All of them quite lovely! =] But I have definitely spoken to a few unintelligent and quite annoying people from both countries. I still bet my country is worse. ;]
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
It's rainy?

Honestly I can't fairly comment. I've never been out of the U.S. before. :(
I'm hoping to someday though!
 

nycindie

Active member
What I love-love-love about living and working in NYC is meeting people from so many places, some I hadn't even heard of before I met them. They come to NYC from everywhere. I've been to a few far-away parts of the world, the farthest from home having been beautiful New Zealand, but I can walk down my street and within a two-block radius, literally, I am able to converse with someone originally from Nepal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guyana, Mongolia, Finland, Wales, Turkey, Malta...

Still, I have so much to learn about the world and what is going on. I think a lot of Americans are so focused on their own lives -- and we are a nation that highly values individuality, so we tend to not look up and around us often enough. It's like on the cartoon King of the Hill, when everyone always calls Hank Hill's neighbors Chinese or Japanese, no matter how often they tell them they are Laotian. Actually think to look at a map and figure out where Laos is? Not when there are bills to pay and the American dream to work for -- so many people think that whatever is beyond their own community is something that is happening "out there," but just not as important as what they have in front of them.

I would guess the more progressive, aware Americans tend to be in the more diverse, liberal-leaning university towns, or cities where lots of immigrants have settled, and places where globalization is not such a foreign concept.
 
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Somegeezer

New member
It's rainy?

Honestly I can't fairly comment. I've never been out of the U.S. before. :(
I'm hoping to someday though!
In England? Often it is rainy, yeah. I think we're expecting rain all through the week. Plus some heavy showers by the end of it. Scotland looks like it might be getting a lot of snow up north again too, which means we might get more mid feb.
 

bella123456

New member
I'd love to hear what the US, Canada and Australia think about England.

Perceptions Australians hold about England are of course, diverse. Older Australians tend to cling a little to the "mother country" concept and feel our relationship with England adds respectablity to our nation. The royal family are followed and adored by many.

I think some Australians feel our relationship with England links us to a colonial power...even though colonialism is outdated. We are part of the commonwealth - So many Australians have a deeply respectful view of England, and English people, tending to think that we're little naughty kids (convicts!) and England is the sensible and guiding parent.

Younger Australians tend to be a little bit more rebellious, like little kids "Hey, we're grown ups now...we can do it ourself !!"

And they is a republican movement that makes a little bit of noise every now and again.

And then of course - there's the cricket :) shhhushhh...

But a very general stereotype here would be that the english are sensible, perhaps better behaved that us, perhaps a little pretentious and that probably stems from the fact this country started as a penal colony

...So, potentially we have some inferiority complexes to work through :)
 

Somegeezer

New member
Perceptions Australians hold about England are of course, diverse. Older Australians tend to cling a little to the "mother country" concept and feel our relationship with England adds respectablity to our nation. The royal family are followed and adored by many.

I think some Australians feel our relationship with England links us to a colonial power...even though colonialism is outdated. We are part of the commonwealth - So many Australians have a deeply respectful view of England, and English people, tending to think that we're little naughty kids (convicts!) and England is the sensible and guiding parent.

Younger Australians tend to be a little bit more rebellious, like little kids "Hey, we're grown ups now...we can do it ourself !!"

And they is a republican movement that makes a little bit of noise every now and again.

And then of course - there's the cricket :) shhhushhh...

But a very general stereotype here would be that the english are sensible, perhaps better behaved that us, perhaps a little pretentious and that probably stems from the fact this country started as a penal colony

...So, potentially we have some inferiority complexes to work through :)
I've heard the same from Canada about the royal family actually. You know what? You guys can have them. =P They are no use to us anymore! They actually had the cheek, not long ago, to complain they were becoming poor. =P Just split them up between the harsh desert outback and arctic north of Canada. =P

I hear a lot of the same here in England about Australia too. A lot of English really do seem pretentious about Australia starting out as where the convicts were sent. But I've not met many people I didn't like over there. The few I didn't get along with, I would exactly say seemed like escaped mental patients either. =P

Any normal Englishmen would be all over cricket, but I just can't stand the sport. =P I think it is the single most talked about thing linking England to Australia though.

I find with the US, they see the whole of the UK as England. Which pisses off the English quite a lot. Including myself. =P I just cannot take people seriously who cannot understand the difference, even after I have explained it to them. =P
 

RfromRMC

New member
I find with the US, they see the whole of the UK as England. Which pisses off the English quite a lot. Including myself. =P I just cannot take people seriously who cannot understand the difference, even after I have explained it to them. =P

Sigh. Unfortunately many in the general public in the US are so ignorant about basic geography it's disgusting. Even many who are supposedly educated, still have big gaps in world geography knowledge. (To be fair though, I blame the public education system...in many states, geography is an elective!) :eek:

I guess I was lucky, my parents gave me a globe and a world atlas when I was a kid to rummage through. :cool:
 

SNeacail

New member
I find with the US, they see the whole of the UK as England. Which pisses off the English quite a lot. Including myself. =P I just cannot take people seriously who cannot understand the difference, even after I have explained it to them. =P

We also call facial tissue Kleenex, soft drinks are Coke, recliners are Lazy Boys, etc. I am fully aware that there are 20 brands of facial tissues, but I will still call it Kleenex out of habit.:p

Not sure how you explain it, but most of us in the US would understand that that England is to California as UK is to the USA.

I won't blame the public school system, because it is taught, people choose to remember what is important to them at the time and similarly ignorant statements come from people all over the world, even those who supposedly have superior education systems.:eek:
 
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