Monday, April 7, 2008

Euro Perspective

Living outside the US gives one an interesting perspective on the way a)the world sees America, and b) the way America sees itself. Being an expat for the better half of my life, I am accustomed to the constant battle cry of the Europeans – “I hate Americans/America/ your government…but not you”. This has always been an interesting issue of the outside world. Having heard it enough, and always given them the doubt that it is just popular to hate America, which it is, I have come to 3 conclusions. 1) Europeans are generally good people. 2) Europeans think they do/ought/must/but don’t really hate Americans, and 3) roughly 98% of the people I’ve heard say they hate Americans actually have NO experience in America, hanging out with Americans or anything outside the innumerous hours they spend digesting American made media, movies, and fast food – so they’re basically just hypocrites. And this has left me with the comforting words to any potential expats and others who want to know that – they don’t really hate you, they just don’t know what to say, because they’re ignorant hypocrites.

Feel better?


But on the other hand, we as Americans abroad, whether travelling or otherwise, need to remember some important ground rules to help eachother out. 1) don’t just accept it when someone says they hate your country – but like you. I know you would like to think they dislike your country in the same sibling rivalry way you do, but they don’t; they aren’t Americans, they shouldn’t talk shit about your family in front of you. 2) don’t argue with them, they like that, don’t give into it. 3) yes, America is much much more conservative than most European countries, however – we also have 24 hour stores, amiable personalities and the last time I checked… there are still more people going to America then leaving.

Some things about Europe:

- in England the bars close at 11pm – 12pm and the police watch EVERYTHING YOU DO. Seriously. Everything.

- In Holland they have some weird fetish with pastel shirts and a lot of the women look like the men and vice versa

- Germans …well, actually germans are kinda cool contrary to popular opinion

- The greeks, as much as I love them, disorganized disorganized disorganized; but great food and awesome tavernas

- Belgians? They don’t’ even know

- French – despite what you might think, more like Americans than expeted

- In Czech republic and Poland….they still like us. For now. Pack mentality will eventually take over there as well

- they all love Lost and Heroes....well, a lot of them do. Not many of americans are watching Eastenders

Keep in mind that these people were perfecting screwing up the entire world while we were wiping out indigenous peoples to make way for railroads. They don’t hate you, they think they’re better. There’s a difference.

(Now I know, I’m saying this as I sit in London with a pretty good job with some benefits we would consider amazing in the US, however I’m an expat and you aren’t (at least i assume you aren't) – it’s what I do.)