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...
Sadly, many stereotypes have a basis from truth. :o
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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. :)
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..
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!
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.
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.
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 ;)
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