The Difference between Europe and America01 Jul 2000
There have lately been a lot of comparisons of Europe and the US in EditThisPage community, including an ongoing series of excellent articles (Europe + America seen with European eyes) in "Surprise". Indeed, one could very well devote an entire weblog to the subject.
After nearly 10 years of being an expatriate (expatriatism?), I should certainly have some interesting views on the subject. But maybe I don't. 10 years is a long time, and maybe the strangeness of my adopted culture is no longer strange to me, and my memories of life in the US are so old that they are no longer valid. I don't know. I personally find the similarities between Europe and America to be more interesting than the differences.
But one has to start someplace. Sorting out a new culture takes time, whether as a tourist, a businessperson, or an emigrant. I had the advantage of being an exchange student in high school, in a culture (Brazil) much more different than where I am now. I had a sense to know what to look for when I came to Europe, and the self-confidence to know I could deal with a new culture, even a German one.
You can't generalize. Simple broad statements are simply not true, and cannot explain the details of your experience in a new culture.
You have to generalize. But one has to start someplace. The only way to begin to make sense of a new culture is to start with clichés (which usually contain some truth) and compare them to what you are actually experiencing.
Your point of view is your point of view. And your point of view starts at home. When you travel, your point of view changes. If you know where you're starting from, you have a better chance of understanding how and why things appear different when you are someplace else.
The unexpected will occur unexpectedly. Make no assumptions. That's easier said than done... at least try to know what your assumptions are. Anything and everything can be different than what you're used to.
Language is nothing. And everything. Americans are not used to hearing conversations they don't understand. One can learn and survive in a culture without the language, but learning the language will improve your point of view.
Hmmm. I haven't even started talking about Europeans and Americans yet. The title for today turned out just to be a come on ";->". I'll leave the following points open for now. Maybe I'll think of more.
Those who left Europe are different from those who stayed.
[Europe|America] is more complicated that it seems.