Having spent quite a bit of time traveling, living outside the US, and working with people from other countries, I found this article looking at America and Americans rather interesting. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article:
The result of that early exposure to American culture, of course, is simple.
When you come to live in America you are shocked by the familiarity of the unfamiliar.You will know a pretzel from a bagel and a Dodger from a Met.
You know what the uniformed concierges at apartment buildings do, and you know what you must tip them at Christmas.
The answers respectively being not much, and too much.
And there is something beguiling in that easy familiarity, but something misleading about it, too. It tends to blind Europeans, and the British in particular, to any sense of just how foreign a place America can be.
This is, after all, a country born out of a tax-revolt during a rebellion against centralising authority, and then expanded by settlers who exchanged the comforts of the Eastern seaboard for the dangers and opportunities of the wild interior.
It is not surprising that a feisty scepticism towards government lingers in the politics here.
The Tea Party movement is successful because it taps into the deep American suspicion that all federal government apart from defence spending, is a kind of bureaucratic boondoggle, dreamed up by larcenous conspiracists in Washington to allow them to line their pockets by picking ours.
Well, It’s true isn’t it?
And our differences extend into this earthly realm too.
To Europeans, for example, a gun is a weapon, pure and simple.
To many, but not all Americans, it is a badge of independence, and self-reliance – the tool of the engaged citizen who does not think that either the criminal, or the forces of the state, should have a monopoly on deadly force.
Show us a gun, and we picture a muscular ne’er-do-well in a balaclava menacing an elderly sub-postmistress.
An American is more likely to visualise a plucky homesteader crouching between an overturned sofa in a burning ranch house, preparing to defend his family to the death.
Well…guns are like eggs, aren’t they? Everyone should own a dozen or three!
An aversion to paying taxes and an addiction to public and private debt do not add up, and American voters may well be left to conclude that they have awarded themselves a lifestyle that they can not really afford.
That is true. But, sending more money to Washington doesn’t help…those stinkin’ larcenists will just spend more!
America has enormous debts but it still spends as much money on defence as all the rest of the world put together.
And if that makes you uncomfortable, it is worth remembering that wherever you are, there is a good chance that if your country is ever invaded, your leader’s first phone call will be to the White House in Washington.
That’s enough said
Americans could make their public spaces a little quieter, for example, if they all took one step closer to the person they are talking to.
This was terribly difficult to get used to when I left the US.
And after three years of eating steaks the size of elephant’s ears off plates bigger than satellite dishes, all of our crockery back in Europe now looks like it was borrowed from a doll’s house. They may take some getting used to.
I had to get used to the reverse leaving the US. It has taken some getting used to. I’ll still patronize restaurants that offer free refills….it just seems cheap to not offer them. How much does it really cost? Not much!
[Update 2016-04-05 07:00:00] Added link to source article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9294890.stm
Image by Defense Images via flickr