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Old 06-27-2012, 06:15 AM   #41
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Letj, I think your experience is that of a person in a big city in a corporate environment. Here, many friendships are forged through social, not work groups. Where I live, the people I have remained closest to share a common background, or social interests, or hobbies. And I do live in a small city. Of the 10 people I would consider my closest friends, one has been such since we were 12, two are from a neighboring state, four are from my state, but not my city, and the rest are from other places in the US. Our bonds are primarily social shared "place" in life, and are various ages from 24 to 54.
The life you described back home isn't that uncommon here, but I would say it happens more frequently in smaller cities and towns and where there is less value on getting ahead and more placed on quality of life.
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:47 AM   #42
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Letj, I think your experience is that of a person in a big city in a corporate environment. Here, many friendships are forged through social, not work groups. Where I live, the people I have remained closest to share a common background, or social interests, or hobbies.
+1. My closest friends are all from shared interests and hobbies, directly or indirectly. I socialized with coworkers plenty, but deliberately never cultivated more serious friendships because a) it could compromise present/future reporting relationships (up, down or sideways) and more importantly b) the last thing I wanted to do with my friends was talk about work. With most coworkers, it seems more often than not some of the conversation would drift into work topics, and never positive work experiences. I'd rather talk about positive, interesting, varied topics in my free time, not work issues...
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:40 AM   #43
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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 06-27-2012, 10:44 AM   #44
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:46 AM   #45
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Maybe US folks are just as friendly but show it differently. There's not one single way to be friendly. The transient nature of people, mostly employment driven, makes such a difference, and leads some to hold back. It also leads people to be less geographic based in their interactions.

Neighborly behaviour when people share a common stress is telling, and my experience in the US is when things get tough (like an impending hurricane) neighbors come together, help each other and share as well as anyplace in the world, and certainly set the positive example.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:17 AM   #46
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I guess I have been so Americanized that I like it here. I remember an Aussie poster who also said that she would retire in the US rather than coming back. And I would think Australians are more like Americans than some Europeans who live in small cities.

I have lived in my current house for 24 years. In this subdivision, there is only one couple who has been here longer. The rest, many did not even stay long enough for me to get a chance to say hi. That does not bother me, really.

I used to think of spending some of my retirement years in Provence. This is still a few years down the road, and I had not done anything other than fantasizing about it, and read books by Peter Mayle. But slowly, that desire waned.

I still like to be able to spend a couple of summers RV'ing through France and other countries, but to spend a longer period in a locale may not be as fun as I had imagined.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:22 AM   #47
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Maybe US folks are just as friendly but show it differently. There's not one single way to be friendly.

I agree. Also, I think it takes an effort to make friends when one moves to a new community, where often people already have many friends and may not be looking for more.

Here's an example of a misperception that some "foreigners" (those not living there) have about New Orleans:
"New Orleans is without a doubt the most insular community in the world. While New Orleanians might not be overtly hostile and may SEEM friendly on the surface, it is impossible for an outsider to form any real, deep friendships in New Orleans no matter what you do if you didn't grow up there and don't have family there."
This is what my friends in Baton Rouge told me when I found out that I would be moving to New Orleans.

When one is moving to another region with its own unique culture and heritage, it is hard to fit in unless one puts some effort into adjusting to (and openly admiring and appreciating and respecting) that culture and heritage and the people that make up that community. Also, from living in many different locations throughout my life, I know that even an introvert doesn't have to act like one when the situation requires a change.

Within 6 months I had real, deep friendships here. It just isn't that hard, folks. It's a learned skill.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:26 AM   #48
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OK, so off-topic posting is more fun than the OP topic, and even sanctioned by a mod, then, heh why not?

Earlier, I recounted some personal anecdotal stories as to how foreigners know more about the US than an American knows about the international world. This is easy to imagine.

Let's pick a random citizen of Azerbaijan, one of Peru, and one average American. Though I have not been to the above two countries, I would bet that the Azerbaijan and the Peruvian would know something about America, while the typical American may not be able to say a whole lot about these two countries. The knowledge possessed by the foreigners may be very superficial, but my point is that they know something, while the American may have problems placing these countries on the world map.

But why the above is true is palpable. The US is like a cheerleader in a high school. All eyes are on her. Every of her moves is observed, and which easily becomes a topic for gossip, no matter how well she behaves. On the other hand, how can our cheerleader know about what each geek in her classes is up to?

Oh, I know some will say that this cheerleader has done some mischief . But, but, but my point is that no matter what she does, all eyes are on her, and she simply cannot return the same attention to the entire school.

The world seems to follow American politics as much as US citizenry does. And in the couple of incidences that I personally encountered and recounted earlier, some foreigners acted like they wanted to be able to cast some votes in our election too. Good grief! The typical American does not follow elections in other countries that closely. He could hardly keep up with gubernatorial election in nearby states (unless it is populous and interesting like California, of course ).

PS. I forgot to point this out. How much do our Azerbaijan and Peruvian know about each other?
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:29 AM   #49
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Yes.

heh heh heh - my dogs love me. And I'm trying to become a proud and grumpy Curmudgeon.
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The only "true love", IMHO...

Not really 'true love'.... most dogs will 'whore around' and lick, wag its tail and get petted by almost any stranger that passes by....
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:33 AM   #50
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A better title for the thread would be "Misconceptions Americans have about the USA". In my time living in and visiting various countries I've realized that every country thinks they are the best and special....it's an product of patriotism and nationalism. Warning, there is some swearing in this clip.

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Old 06-27-2012, 11:36 AM   #51
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The world seems to follow American politics as much as US citizenry does. And in the couple of incidences that I personally encountered and recounted earlier, some foreigners acted like they wanted to be able to cast some votes in our election too. Good grief! The typical American does not follow elections in other countries that closely. He could hardly keep up with gubernatorial election in nearby states (unless it is populous and interesting like California, of course ).

It was interesting that I experienced the same when I was in the UK... more than one person said that they wished they could vote for the President because they had more effect on their lives than one would think...

It was also funny that a few people wanted to become the 51st state instead of being part of the EU... that was 12 years ago and it seems like they have a point with the potential EU implosion...
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:40 AM   #52
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OK, let's ask what these newcomers bring to the table. From what I hear, many countries are already accustomed to paying higher taxes than we do. I don't see how one can turn away taxpayers. Come on in!
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:47 AM   #53
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But why the above is true is palpable. The US is like a cheerleader in a high school. All eyes are on her. Every of her moves is observed, and which easily becomes a topic for gossip, no matter how well she behaves. On the other hand, how can our cheerleader know about what each geek in her classes is up to?
The actual geopolitical truth of it, and people tend to forget this in our politically correct times, is that we are still living in the time of the American Empire. True, it is a social/financial/cultural Empire more than a colonial one but it exists nonetheless. That is why people around the world know far more about the US than the US does about them.

I am sure during the time of the British or Roman Empires the average Kenyan or Gaul knew much more about England or Rome than the average Citizen knew about the farflung colonies.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:56 AM   #54
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FIFY, if you believe Ian Bremmer and many others...otherwise I'd agree.
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The actual geopolitical truth of it, and people tend to forget this in our politically correct times, is that we are just coming out of 60 years still living in the time of the American Empire. True, it is a social/financial/cultural Empire more than a colonial one but it existeds nonetheless. That is why people around the world know far more about the US than the US does about them.

I am sure during the time of the British or Roman Empires the average Kenyan or Gaul knew much more about England or Rome than the average Citizen knew about the farflung colonies.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:08 PM   #55
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Let's pick a random citizen of Azerbaijan, one of Peru, and one average American. Though I have not been to the above two countries, I would bet that the Azerbaijan and the Peruvian would know something about America, while the typical American may not be able to say a whole lot about these two countries. The knowledge possessed by the foreigners may be very superficial, but my point is that they know something, while the American may have problems placing these countries on the world map.
Dont forget, the size of Azerbaijanis about the same as Maine, and Peru is about the size of Texas+New Mexico+Arizona... How much would someone in those countries know about one of those four states? Never mind be able to place them on a map.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:09 PM   #56
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Surely, people are now talking about how the yuan should be valued. Let's see them pick on the Chinese Politburo for a change.

A recent article I saw said that they together have personal fortunes worth several billions $US. That makes the US leaders in the Capitol look like paupers. How did these communist leaders get so rich so quickly?

Yes, let's see how foreigners can get to "cast" their votes there!
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:51 PM   #57
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A better title for the thread would be "Misconceptions Americans have about the USA". In my time living in and visiting various countries I've realized that every country thinks they are the best and special....it's an product of patriotism and nationalism.
Yes. And I have seen that smaller or weaker third-world countries often exhibit excessive pride.

Europeans who visit the US are often surprised to see many Americans have the nation's flag, and display it on occasions. It appears that not too many Europeans have their national flags at home. It is said that they have been through many wars on their homeland, and have learned to avoid conflict whenever possible.

Yet, many international soccer games in Europe ended up in violence, resulting in death of many spectators. In the US, there was occasional violence broken out between fans of football teams too. Stupid tribalism exists everywhere!

Personally, I do not care if the US is a better country. It may be simply that its size means that it gets the benefits of the economy of scale. Its businesses can grow internally in the country to a fairly large size before they start to spread internationally. McDonald, Walmart, Starbucks all grew domestically for a few years before they went abroad. Big does not necessarily mean better, but it helps make money. Life is simply not fair.

Anyway, talk about the American culture, it is not necessarily better than others, but it is what it is. I am used to it, and I personally feel more comfortable here than elsewhere. It's just that simple for me.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:54 PM   #58
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I agree. Also, I think it takes an effort to make friends when one moves to a new community, where often people already have many friends and may not be looking for more.

Here's an example of a misperception that some "foreigners" (those not living there) have about New Orleans:
"New Orleans is without a doubt the most insular community in the world. While New Orleanians might not be overtly hostile and may SEEM friendly on the surface, it is impossible for an outsider to form any real, deep friendships in New Orleans no matter what you do if you didn't grow up there and don't have family there."
This is what my friends in Baton Rouge told me when I found out that I would be moving to New Orleans.

When one is moving to another region with its own unique culture and heritage, it is hard to fit in unless one puts some effort into adjusting to (and openly admiring and appreciating and respecting) that culture and heritage and the people that make up that community. Also, from living in many different locations throughout my life, I know that even an introvert doesn't have to act like one when the situation requires a change.

Within 6 months I had real, deep friendships here. It just isn't that hard, folks. It's a learned skill.
I don't suppose that it hurt that you formed a romantic relationship with a native with a large family?

I think there is no doubt that the best way to become integrated with a community is to hook up with a respected and connected member of that community.

Also wrt to the idea that in America relationships are mainly outside of work- good luck with that, as most younger people anyway must spend almost all their time working. And they must be mobile, so settled communities are generally not interested in investing a of time and attention into relationships that experience has taught them tend to be transitory.

wrt to interest based "friends" unless these people have more time on their hands than most Americans do, my experience is that these are easy places to do pickups, hard places to form friendships with same sex or not sexually shopping people. And if disability, or an interest change makes you no longer part of the interst group, often it's over. Even in many churches, when an old person no longer can easily show up for services and events, they are mostly forgotten, even by the ministerial staff-unless of course they are wealthy and thus seen as live sources of legacies.

IMO, the best support system by far is an extended family- but so many of us must move away, or even choose to move away from our birthplaces that source of suport is challenged. Hard to pop over to cheer someone up or bring them home from the hospital when you are 2000 miles away. Not to mention that a casual reading of this board will convince you that often these are the ties that are easily loosed.

So often social things that are very widely recognized in our culture, with many books, articles, interviews, etc-see "Bowling Alone"- will be basically denied by ER group members. I guess that our membership is just the 1%, in all desirable categories.

The US in fine in many ways, but not perfect by any means.


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Old 06-27-2012, 01:33 PM   #59
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I agree. Also, I think it takes an effort to make friends when one moves to a new community, where often people already have many friends and may not be looking for more.

Here's an example of a misperception that some "foreigners" (those not living there) have about New Orleans:
"New Orleans is without a doubt the most insular community in the world. While New Orleanians might not be overtly hostile and may SEEM friendly on the surface, it is impossible for an outsider to form any real, deep friendships in New Orleans no matter what you do if you didn't grow up there and don't have family there."
This is what my friends in Baton Rouge told me when I found out that I would be moving to New Orleans.

When one is moving to another region with its own unique culture and heritage, it is hard to fit in unless one puts some effort into adjusting to (and openly admiring and appreciating and respecting) that culture and heritage and the people that make up that community. Also, from living in many different locations throughout my life, I know that even an introvert doesn't have to act like one when the situation requires a change.

Within 6 months I had real, deep friendships here. It just isn't that hard, folks. It's a learned skill.
I don't suppose that it hurt that you formed a romantic relationship with a native with a large family?
My, you are the skeptic, aren't you. I don't lie in my posts, and I wouldn't have posted something like that had F. actually been my sole entree into gaining friends in New Orleans. When I met him I had lived here for some time, and had plenty of friends.

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I think there is no doubt that the best way to become integrated with a community is to hook up with a respected and connected member of that community.
I don't agree. Maybe (being a guy), you are not worried about one night stands and disrespect that can occur when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship. Besides, in my oddball point of view, having ulterior motives like that would be dishonest and using someone. I do not do that sort of thing. BTW F. didn't happen to mention his connections until after we had cemented a firm relationship. We had plenty of other, much more important topics to discuss.

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Also wrt to the idea that in America relationships are mainly outside of work- good luck with that, as most younger people anyway must spend almost all their time working. And they must be mobile, so settled communities are generally not interested in investing a of time and attention into relationships that experience has taught them tend to be transitory.
Personally I chose never to mix work with my social life, long work hours or not. It's easier to sort out motivations that way.
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:35 PM   #60
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Yet, many international soccer games in Europe ended up in violence, resulting in death of many spectators.
This is a misperception. The only issues at the current Euro 2012 has been with Russian and Polish fans and that's got more to do with the general level of racism and thuggery in those countries than with soccer.

In small and weak countries national pride and hubris can be amusing, but in countries like China, Russia and USA it is often scary.
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