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Old 06-26-2012, 02:16 PM   #21
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That was time well spent. Thanks for posting the link.

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Old 06-26-2012, 06:03 PM   #22
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My mother asked the producer why he could not use French extras to pretend to be Americans. He said that "no, the Americans act and walk differently". I must note here that my mother was not obese. My mom laughed and said that she was not even a "genuine American". Perhaps we have been here long enough to become one.
I am going to comment on the two parts of your post. All cultures have different body language. Perhaps Americans appear more distinct from the French than say, the Dutch, but I wouldn't count on it. Second part about fat people. I get so tired of hearing this. Last night I saw a video clip. Some German grocer offered Euro 360 or so to any shopper who showed up and shopped naked. Over 200 men and women came naked. The narrator said that many of them were Danes who come into Germany to shop anyway, so they just stripped and got a bargain. Well, there were some lean young men, but the majority, male and female, were fatter than anyone I see going about my daily business. No one huge, but not exactly svelte either. I doubt corpulence is positively correlated with willingness to get naked in public.

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Old 06-26-2012, 06:32 PM   #23
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Well, I guess data doesn't lie. Evidently I live a sheltered life.
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:38 PM   #24
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I am glad this thread was started. I would like to make an observation/ask a question that I never quite had the courage to ask an American face to face. My formative years were spend in another culture where friends are family and acquaintenances/strangers are friends (the country is just one big mass of friendly and kind people). In this culture I could spend hours talking to a friend about the most mundane details of my life, my innermost feelings, politics or whatever and feel very connected heart to heart as if I am talking to a member of my own family. Neighbors would look out for you and do almost anything to help you out. For example, you can drop by unannounced with a bottle of wine or nothing at all and they would be quite gracious. Saying I am busy and I can't talk to you now is quite an insult and would win you no friends. I recently visited an old friend there and the neighbor whom I did not know stopped by to drop of dinner they had made totally unsolicited. Here's my question, why does American relationships appear so superficial? I would not feel comfortable going over to someone's house without being asked or even call to ask a favor. If someone is truely your friend, why is the relationship so formal and guarded? Even people you've worked with for years may not even be your friend. The opposite of the culture where I grew up. Why are there no common gathering space such as a public square where friends gather and informally socialize? The social circles in America are tight and people do not seem to easily embrace people who are not part of their social circles. Friendships also appear to be based on your current activity - golf buddy, working in the same department but disappear when the activity is no longer. Friendships in the culture I grew up in seemed to be tight no matter what the circumstances and people are more loyal to friends and would stand by them and defend them. Here in the US, people would run from you if you're no longer popular or respected or God forbid made a major blunder in your life. I've noticed at work that people are closer to the ones they think could impact their career and it's all about what you can do for me. I always assumed that friendships were based on loyalty and connectedness to the other person versus what you can do for me. Is there any truth to my observations or is this all perception?
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:02 PM   #25
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While I really didn't expect British people to know much about American geography (why would they?), I was surprised that so many could not grasp the size of the continental U.S. Some of the people I talked to, appeared to think Miami, New York, and L.A. are no more than a solid day's drive apart, like Edinburgh and London.

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Old 06-26-2012, 07:17 PM   #26
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If someone is truely your friend, why is the relationship so formal and guarded?
I have friends that would drive 100 miles to assist if my car broke down, others (neighbors) that if I was cutting a tree would come over to help, pies get dropped off, today I was admiring the smell of a barbecue by a new neighbor that I had not formally met, but was asked to join them. We have an elderly gentleman down the street that came over a few months back and asked if we could visit him sometimes (we now do for coffee - we bring the danish (his wife passed four years ago)). I could go on, but I think it more has to do with how you present yourself and the area in the country you live in...
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:20 PM   #27
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While I really didn't expect British people to know much about American geography (why would they?), I was surprised that so many could not grasp the size of the continental U.S. Some of the people I talked to, appeared to think Miami, New York, and L.A. are no more than a solid day's drive apart, like Edinburgh and London.
At least some Americans living in the Northeast have similar issues. The company I worked for in San Antonio purchased another company located in New Jersey. We flew a group of their senior sales staff to central TX to see our facilities. When we finished the tour late that moring, they wanted to know if they could drive over to see our our facilities in Houston and Dallas after lunch...
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:23 PM   #28
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Regarding Ha's comment, I have learned that when two people disagree, very often the difference could be reconciled in a way not anticipated, if one cares to analyze the fact.

Next time I am up in the Pacific NW, I will remember to observe the locals. It could very well be that people there are more active and slimmer than people from other parts of the US.

And the data that Midpack shared did not surprise me a bit. It does correlate well with my own observation.

I was bringing up the point that Americans tend to be bigger, just to dismiss any suggestion that the French producer was looking for some simple physique attribute in the extras that he desired. It was definitely "body language" that he was after. That body language was not something tangible that I could define. I am actually not that observant or perceptive. Whatever it was, my mother acquired it.

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Well, I guess data doesn't lie. Evidently I live a sheltered life.
PS. Hmm... Somehow the graphs showing average weights of different nationalities that Midpack posted disappeared. I meant the ones Ha responded to above. Did Midpack change his mind because the data is not politically correct?
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:25 PM   #29
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Interesting, though relative to most other countries aren't Americans often more self-centered, materialistic and wasteful? I can see how foreigners might have misperceptions if they've been exposed to our television, movies and other media forms. And I suspect our perceptions of foreigners and other cultures are as distorted if not more than ours of them...at least that seemed to be the case having had working relationships with many from other cultures over the years. I don't claim to know, but I lived in Europe for 4 years and have traveled much of Europe and Asia. We could both stand to learn more about one another maybe...
I don't think the self-centered is accurate. AFAIK American have a higher rate of donating both money and time than other countries. I am too lazy google for this. I probably agree about materialistic, although the Chinese I met in China were the most materialistic group of people I've ever meet. Understandable that after being told for decades that happiness was a bowl of rice, and living by the words in Mao's little red book, they may go over board. Wasteful probably so.

I 100% agree there is much to learn from other cultures.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:34 PM   #30
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I have friends that would drive 100 miles to assist if my car broke down, others (neighbors) that if I was cutting a tree would come over to help, pies get dropped off, today I was admiring the smell of a barbecue by a new neighbor that I had not formally met, but was asked to join them. We have an elderly gentleman down the street that came over a few months back and asked if we could visit him sometimes (we now do for coffee - we bring the danish (his wife passed four years ago)). I could go on, but I think it more has to do with how you present yourself and the area in the country you live in...
Should I assume you live in a rural area of a very small town. I've always lived in large cities? The smallest city I lived in had 200K people. Could it be that small cities function the same way I described the country I spent my most formative years?
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:42 PM   #31
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Letj, if you lived in larger US cities a lot of people are moving in and out over the course of a decade--I wouldn't be surprised if the US has a more transient population than most other countries, just based on the historical beginnings and that whole pursuit of happiness thing. Perhaps that is true of your culture? I know in my own family, none of my aunts and uncles live anywhere near each other, and their children are also spread out coast to coast.

Small towns in the US might be friendlier but also can be more insular and not welcoming to people whose families have not lived there for generations (and that might be true of where you grew up--would someone from another country be as welcome in such informal settings as you describe?). And maybe you are from a culture or country that is exemplary in its friendliness?
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:44 PM   #32
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I don't think the self-centered is accurate. AFAIK American have a higher rate of donating both money and time than other countries. I am too lazy google for this. I probably agree about materialistic, although the Chinese I met in China were the most materialistic group of people I've ever meet. Understandable that after being told for decades that happiness was a bowl of rice, and living by the words in Mao's little red book, they may go over board. Wasteful probably so.

I 100% agree there is much to learn from other cultures.
I just want to point out that it's probably true that Americans donate more money than others. The fact is that Americans have more disposable income to do so. The difference is that in most developed economies, the poor do not suffer the same fate as American poor because their government provides adequate assistance in the so called welfare state model. In the so called welfare state like Canada and Sweden, there are far few people living in poverty and the disparity in income is not very great. Hence the vast majority of the population is solidly middle class. The assistance American citizens provide is provided by the welfare state in those countries. As far as generosity, I have to say that I've travelled in many places and the crown goes to poorer/developing countries. People are far more generous with their time and money. They would give a stranger the shirt of their back and take in their parents, grown children and even strangers. I guess poor people have to do that to survive. It's voluntary socialism.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:45 PM   #33
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I am glad this thread was started. I would like to make an observation/ask a question that I never quite had the courage to ask an American face to face. My formative years were spend in another culture where friends are family and acquaintenances/strangers are friends (the country is just one big mass of friendly and kind people). In this culture I could spend hours talking to a friend about the most mundane details of my life, my innermost feelings, politics or whatever and feel very connected heart to heart as if I am talking to a member of my own family. Neighbors would look out for you and do almost anything to help you out. For example, you can drop by unannounced with a bottle of wine or nothing at all and they would be quite gracious. Saying I am busy and I can't talk to you now is quite an insult and would win you no friends. I recently visited an old friend there and the neighbor whom I did not know stopped by to drop of dinner they had made totally unsolicited. Here's my question, why does American relationships appear so superficial? I would not feel comfortable going over to someone's house without being asked or even call to ask a favor. If someone is truely your friend, why is the relationship so formal and guarded? Even people you've worked with for years may not even be your friend. The opposite of the culture where I grew up. Why are there no common gathering space such as a public square where friends gather and informally socialize? The social circles in America are tight and people do not seem to easily embrace people who are not part of their social circles. Friendships also appear to be based on your current activity - golf buddy, working in the same department but disappear when the activity is no longer. Friendships in the culture I grew up in seemed to be tight no matter what the circumstances and people are more loyal to friends and would stand by them and defend them. Here in the US, people would run from you if you're no longer popular or respected or God forbid made a major blunder in your life. I've noticed at work that people are closer to the ones they think could impact their career and it's all about what you can do for me. I always assumed that friendships were based on loyalty and connectedness to the other person versus what you can do for me. Is there any truth to my observations or is this all perception?
I am no sociologist, nor could I use my own personal experience to extrapolate to the entire population. But I have observed that I tend to grow apart from friends that I had prior to relocating to the US. So, I am very much surprised that some Americans I know talk about maintaining contact with friends since high school. Yes, Americans can have long-term or life-long friendships. Whether that is common, I would not know.

But if it is true that Americans do not have many long-term friends (like my situation now!), I could offer a simple explanation. We are such a mobile group of people, who do not really have roots. Statistics show that the average American moves every few years. I assume that they also change jobs every few years. There is no time to bond. Additionally, long-term relationships would not last if people have little in common in their separate daily lives, particularly when we live thousands of miles apart.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:48 PM   #34
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Letj, if you lived in larger US cities a lot of people are moving in and out over the course of a decade--I wouldn't be surprised if the US has a more transient population than most other countries, just based on the historical beginnings and that whole pursuit of happiness thing. Perhaps that is true of your culture, that it is not so transient? I know in my own family, none of my aunts and uncles live anywhere near each other, and their children are also spread out coast to coast.

Small towns in the US might be friendlier but also can be more insular and not welcoming to people whose families have not lived there for generations (and that might be true of where you grew up--would someone from another country be as welcome in such informal settings as you describe? Have the families in your childhood home town lived there for several generations?). And maybe you are from a culture or country that is exemplary in its friendliness?

And finally, many times people here have discussed the good old days, when kids could play outside all day unsupervised and had family picnics, etc.--I can remember my own mom having coffee every day at 10:00 am with the other moms, whoever was around, something I never did in my life. So possibly the US of the "good old days" is like what you remember from your own childhood.

You seem somewhat sad to be living here. Can you move back?
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:50 PM   #35
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You seem somewhat sad to be living here. Can you move back?
Definitely plan to but not with my children. Their life is here and that would be devastating to them. Once they are grown and gone, I can see that happening. I do go back to vist quite often. I am actually quite happy and have quite a great life here with a large social network - primarily family and many friends, most are foreign born. I also do quite a bit of volunteering with my church and involved in a lot of community activities. I have quite amicable relationships with Americans (I did not mean to convey anything negative about Americans in my post; it was just simply my perception which could be wrong) but it is just not as deep and connected at the very core. I have a number of European friends who tell me that Americans are quite amicable on the surface but they just can't get to know them on a deeper level. That may or may not be true. It could simply be that I grew up in a far more connected culture which is not the way of life here so someone born in this culture may not be able to relate to my observation.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:51 PM   #36
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At least some Americans living in the Northeast have similar issues. The company I worked for in San Antonio purchased another company located in New Jersey. We flew a group of their senior sales staff to central TX to see our facilities. When we finished the tour late that moring, they wanted to know if they could drive over to see our our facilities in Houston and Dallas after lunch...
Depends on how much time they have "after lunch"? After all, those places are just a couple inches apart on the map...

Spouse and I vacationed in Spain & Portugal once and drove what seemed to be every inch of the countries, putting only a couple hundred miles on the car in a week. A couple years later we drove from Charleston SC to Monterey. I think we crossed five states in the first three days. When we reached Texas, we were still there three days later and had racked up more miles just getting across Texas than during our entire week in Europe.
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:27 PM   #37
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Should I assume you live in a rural area of a very small town. I've always lived in large cities? The smallest city I lived in had 200K people. Could it be that small cities function the same way I described the country I spent my most formative years?
Yes, where I currently live, there are less than 200k people, but some of my best friends in my life are in Orlando Florida.

I believe it has more to do with social / economic class. More professional individuals do not have as much free time and are just to busy with their careers - many careers can require 60 - 80 hours a week... Direct family time gets hindered - much less time with friends or even making friends - most are just called associates...
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:58 PM   #38
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Spouse and I vacationed in Spain & Portugal once and drove what seemed to be every inch of the countries, putting only a couple hundred miles on the car in a week. A couple years later we drove from Charleston SC to Monterey. I think we crossed five states in the first three days. When we reached Texas, we were still there three days later and had racked up more miles just getting across Texas than during our entire week in Europe.
A few years ago I was attending a meeting in Barcelona, as was a college at our site in Huelva, also in Spain but in the south. I stupidly asked him if he was driving to the meeting. Living in Texas for so long I'd slipped into the illusion that Europe is small.

Turns out it is 700 miles from where he lives to Barcelona

Spain is about 72% the size of Texas. Spain + Portugal is about 86% the size of Texas.

France is about 97% the size of Texas and later that year when I had to travel from our site in Huelva to our site in Calais, I fully realized why my Spanish college had thought I was nuts when I'd asked him about driving. (it is ~1,300 miles from Huelva to Calais)
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:18 AM   #39
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Talk about Spain reminded me of our friend Vicente from the Asturias region (or was it Galacia?). I have not seen him post for a while. Those regions of Spain I would like to visit someday. Americans may not appreciate that different regions of Spain have significant cultural differences. For example, not every Spain region shares the enthusiasm for bull fighting, or even Flamenco dance and music. These customs are only enjoyed in the south.

European countries have such varied geography and regional cultures compared to the US. Having crossed many US Western states, I will have to say that I enjoyed the drive the first time, then slowly learned to appreciate the Interstate. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of the same scenery can be tedious after a while. I don't know if crossing Alaska (or Siberia!) will tire me out, but I still like to see for myself once.
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:38 AM   #40
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Whether Americans are perceived as "friendly" or not also depends on the brand of Americans/region of country. We're a diverse group of mongrels with a lot of personality and cultural traits. One of the beauties of this great country, it seems to me, is the ability to move and start over if you are unhappy in your situation--from tiny towns and rural areas to big cities, we have it all. In St. Paul MN I currently live among Garrison Keillor's proverbial Norwegian/German/Scandin-hoo-vian stock--with which I am very comfortable as it is my background, too--and they tend to be extremely nice but often very reserved and independent ("shy" as Keillor would say). People are typically very polite and affable, but honestly I would never show up on someone's doorstep unannounced nor would I particularly welcome someone to do so with me. Friendships can go very deep, but it is also sometimes hard to "break into" long-standing family or friend's circles. The only other culture I've lived for long periods is that of Italy and my observation was that it is much, much harder to do this there--family groups are just too "tight" to truly admit strangers, although most people are kind and friendly on the surface.
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