Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 44223 times)

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Hmmmmm

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I'm actually not convinced that the US is more diverse than individual European countries either - I think Americans often underestimate the differences within European countries - but I think it's a much more reasonable claim and is certainly true of some European countries (e.g. Monaco, Luxembourg).

Neither am I, although obviously I haven't been there so it's hard to say so definitively. I don't know much about European countries, but I'm struggling to see how the UK is much less diverse than the US, in far smaller quarters, too. And that's without even getting into ethnicity, as someone mentioned upthread. Londoners are quite different to Geordies who are quite different to Scots or Devonians or Liverpudlians or people from Ireland or or or. The cultures and ways of life in these places can be vastly different from one another, even having completely different dialects in some cases, if that's what we're terming 'diversity'.

I think I'm using the term "diversity" in a much more legal/HR terminology around ethnicity. It is very easy to give specific data on country, region, or city diversity that does indicate clearly that the US has a higher percent of population that is of minority ethnicities than the majority of European countries.

But it sounds like you are describing regional differences within the same ethnic group living in the same country or region. I don't know that I could say that Americans aren't aware that there are regional differences. But yes Americans do discuss frequently our regional differences.

Venus193

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Even within NYC some natives identify with the borough in which they live or were born in.  There is a major amount of snobbery about that with some of them.   >:(

perpetua

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I'm actually not convinced that the US is more diverse than individual European countries either - I think Americans often underestimate the differences within European countries - but I think it's a much more reasonable claim and is certainly true of some European countries (e.g. Monaco, Luxembourg).

Neither am I, although obviously I haven't been there so it's hard to say so definitively. I don't know much about European countries, but I'm struggling to see how the UK is much less diverse than the US, in far smaller quarters, too. And that's without even getting into ethnicity, as someone mentioned upthread. Londoners are quite different to Geordies who are quite different to Scots or Devonians or Liverpudlians or people from Ireland or or or. The cultures and ways of life in these places can be vastly different from one another, even having completely different dialects in some cases, if that's what we're terming 'diversity'.

I think I'm using the term "diversity" in a much more legal/HR terminology around ethnicity. It is very easy to give specific data on country, region, or city diversity that does indicate clearly that the US has a higher percent of population that is of minority ethnicities than the majority of European countries.


Yes, quite possibly. Can't speak for mainland-European cities because I haven't travelled there but London (also a European city, obviously) surely has to be one of the most diverse places on the planet in that respect.

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But it sounds like you are describing regional differences within the same ethnic group living in the same country or region. I don't know that I could say that Americans aren't aware that there are regional differences. But yes Americans do discuss frequently our regional differences.


Yes, that's what I'm talking about really. How people living in different parts of the country differ from each other. Much is made of how the US is so diverse, usually in respect to its size, which is another thing that is talked about a lot. I think the UK might be just as diverse in that respect, our regional differences are very pronounced. They're just over a smaller number of miles :)

Hmmmmm

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I'm actually not convinced that the US is more diverse than individual European countries either - I think Americans often underestimate the differences within European countries - but I think it's a much more reasonable claim and is certainly true of some European countries (e.g. Monaco, Luxembourg).

Neither am I, although obviously I haven't been there so it's hard to say so definitively. I don't know much about European countries, but I'm struggling to see how the UK is much less diverse than the US, in far smaller quarters, too. And that's without even getting into ethnicity, as someone mentioned upthread. Londoners are quite different to Geordies who are quite different to Scots or Devonians or Liverpudlians or people from Ireland or or or. The cultures and ways of life in these places can be vastly different from one another, even having completely different dialects in some cases, if that's what we're terming 'diversity'.

I think I'm using the term "diversity" in a much more legal/HR terminology around ethnicity. It is very easy to give specific data on country, region, or city diversity that does indicate clearly that the US has a higher percent of population that is of minority ethnicities than the majority of European countries.


Yes, quite possibly. Can't speak for mainland-European cities because I haven't travelled there but London (also a European city, obviously) surely has to be one of the most diverse places on the planet in that respect.

Quote
But it sounds like you are describing regional differences within the same ethnic group living in the same country or region. I don't know that I could say that Americans aren't aware that there are regional differences. But yes Americans do discuss frequently our regional differences.


Yes, that's what I'm talking about really. How people living in different parts of the country differ from each other. Much is made of how the US is so diverse, usually in respect to its size, which is another thing that is talked about a lot. I think the UK might be just as diverse in that respect, our regional differences are very pronounced. They're just over a smaller number of miles :)

Yes, London is diverse but if you look at the statistics I posted, London is 60% white. My US city is only 23% Caucasian and the largest population group is only 40%. So when I travel to London, it does seem less ethnically diverse to me. Cities like Madrid and a Rome seem extremely ethnically homogeneous to me. But saying that, when I travel to Salt Lake City Utah I'm also struck by the lack of ethnic diversity.

hobish

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I'm actually not convinced that the US is more diverse than individual European countries either - I think Americans often underestimate the differences within European countries - but I think it's a much more reasonable claim and is certainly true of some European countries (e.g. Monaco, Luxembourg).

Neither am I, although obviously I haven't been there so it's hard to say so definitively. I don't know much about European countries, but I'm struggling to see how the UK is much less diverse than the US, in far smaller quarters, too. And that's without even getting into ethnicity, as someone mentioned upthread. Londoners are quite different to Geordies who are quite different to Scots or Devonians or Liverpudlians or people from Ireland or or or. The cultures and ways of life in these places can be vastly different from one another, even having completely different dialects in some cases, if that's what we're terming 'diversity'.

Philadelphians are utterly different from Pittsburghers, in dialect, local cuisine, attitude.  And both couldn't be more different from Allentowners, who are distinct from Lancasterians.  And if you leave Pennsylvania...

 :) You totally read my mind with that post.

Back me up on this, as I believe you live in NJ... but Camdenites are closer to Philadelphians than NJ in attitude, but otherwise, North, Central, and South Jersey might as well be different nations in attitude and composition.  I've always said that NJ is a chameleon state: North resembles New York, Central resembles Pennsylvania and South resembles Delaware.  But they don't resemble each other a great deal.  (The difference between Camden and, say, Pennsville is striking.  Heck, Camden and Cherry Hill couldn't be more different.)

Indeed, although we argue whether there really is such a thing as Central Jersey :) I think so, but i know people who vehemently disagree. It's kind of odd, too, that if you head even further south Florida and New Jersey are weirdly similar. I hope there is nowhere else like Camden. That poor city is a mess.

I found a neat link - not sure if it is on-topic, maybe a little drifty, but if we're getting into diversity: http://www.daynews.com/latest-news/2013/03/top-10-culturally-diverse-cities-in-the-world-15031
#1, #4, and #7 are in the US. Singapore being #9 surprised me. 
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NotTheNarcissist

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OP, thanks for posting this! Very entertaining!

123sandy

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Is it getting a bit "touchy" in this thread....

Diane AKA Traska

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Is it getting a bit "touchy" in this thread....

I don't see that at all.  Just people with strong opinions that don't fully agree.  :)
Location:
Philadelphia, PA

Peppergirl

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I'm actually not convinced that the US is more diverse than individual European countries either - I think Americans often underestimate the differences within European countries - but I think it's a much more reasonable claim and is certainly true of some European countries (e.g. Monaco, Luxembourg).

Neither am I, although obviously I haven't been there so it's hard to say so definitively. I don't know much about European countries, but I'm struggling to see how the UK is much less diverse than the US, in far smaller quarters, too. And that's without even getting into ethnicity, as someone mentioned upthread. Londoners are quite different to Geordies who are quite different to Scots or Devonians or Liverpudlians or people from Ireland or or or. The cultures and ways of life in these places can be vastly different from one another, even having completely different dialects in some cases, if that's what we're terming 'diversity'.

Philadelphians are utterly different from Pittsburghers, in dialect, local cuisine, attitude.  And both couldn't be more different from Allentowners, who are distinct from Lancasterians.  And if you leave Pennsylvania...

Very good point.  The cultural differences between Cincinnatians and Clevelanders are striking as well, despite being technically in the same state.  At least we think so. ;)

saki

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I'm actually not convinced that the US is more diverse than individual European countries either - I think Americans often underestimate the differences within European countries - but I think it's a much more reasonable claim and is certainly true of some European countries (e.g. Monaco, Luxembourg).

Neither am I, although obviously I haven't been there so it's hard to say so definitively. I don't know much about European countries, but I'm struggling to see how the UK is much less diverse than the US, in far smaller quarters, too. And that's without even getting into ethnicity, as someone mentioned upthread. Londoners are quite different to Geordies who are quite different to Scots or Devonians or Liverpudlians or people from Ireland or or or. The cultures and ways of life in these places can be vastly different from one another, even having completely different dialects in some cases, if that's what we're terming 'diversity'.

Philadelphians are utterly different from Pittsburghers, in dialect, local cuisine, attitude.  And both couldn't be more different from Allentowners, who are distinct from Lancasterians.  And if you leave Pennsylvania...

Very good point.  The cultural differences between Cincinnatians and Clevelanders are striking as well, despite being technically in the same state.  At least we think so. ;)

I've been to many of these places and, to be honest, they don't come across as that different.  Now, Arizona and NYC, those have always come across very differently to me.  Buffalo very different to Washington.  But the differences not really any stronger than, say, the difference between Newcastle and Norwich or Cornwall and Liverpool.*   But, then again, the difference between Newcastle and New Delhi, say, is vastly greater than any of those.

I think, to some extent, I weary of Americans who have never left the US from making the "the US is more diverse than Europe" claim because, really, it's just an assertion when you've never had any direct experience to draw on.  It's always qualitative anyway because it's difficult to measure differences in an objective way but at least, with someone who has travelled widely, you can have an interesting discussion on it.

*In Liverpool, I literally can only understand maybe one word in three, the accent is so different from Southern England.  I have to rely on mime.  I can communicate better in Italy and I don't even speak Italian!


iridaceae

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Perpetua just out of curiosity since you've mentioned it once or twice: do you think Americans live the same no matter where we are? That a person living in the heart of Detroit lives his life the same as a farmer in the middle of South Dakota?

Saki I don't quite know how to quantify "more diverse" since the ethnic make up varies wildly from lace to place in the US but we do have some very diverse *areas* and peoples. The Amish in Pennsylvania and a few other States. Some of the Indian reservations. Hawaii. Parts of the Southwest where Spanish is still spoken 250 years after Spanish colonization as the primary language. Come to that I have a friend whose grandmother grew up in either Northern Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and never learned English until well after she was an adult; her tiny village spoke German.

When colonists came here they tended to group together. It's why New Glarus Wisconsin basks in its Swiss heritage and Pella Iowa in its Dutch.

perpetua

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I've been to many of these places and, to be honest, they don't come across as that different.  Now, Arizona and NYC, those have always come across very differently to me.  Buffalo very different to Washington.  But the differences not really any stronger than, say, the difference between Newcastle and Norwich or Cornwall and Liverpool.*   But, then again, the difference between Newcastle and New Delhi, say, is vastly greater than any of those.

I wonder if they do come across as that different to people who live there, though. Some differences may not be so obvious if you're not there all the time. For example, I can imagine an American visiting maybe Manchester and Newcastle, and not seeing much of a difference: similar architechture, countryside, whatever - but to people *from* Manchester and Newcastle, they're as different as chalk and cheese?

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I think, to some extent, I weary of Americans who have never left the US from making the "the US is more diverse than Europe" claim because, really, it's just an assertion when you've never had any direct experience to draw on.  It's always qualitative anyway because it's difficult to measure differences in an objective way but at least, with someone who has travelled widely, you can have an interesting discussion on it.

So do I, to be honest. I also get weary of the 'you couldn't possibly understand how diverse the US is because it's so big and where you live isn't' argument, and the implication that other places couldn't possibly be as diverse as the US is because they're not the same size. Well, yes they can be, and they are - it's just more concentrated in a smaller area, which actually makes the diversity even *more* surprising. I would expect, for example, a population to have different cultures and and dialects and landscapes or whatnot over a distance of 3000 miles; it's perhaps a little less obvious to realise that areas 300 or so miles apart, like say the South West of England and Liverpool, can be so different and just as different as people from Seattle - vs - Alabama (picking examples out of my head).

Also, I know how big the US is. I'm quite capable of looking at an atlas to determine this, as I'm sure are most other people who don't live there, so I'm always unsure as why we need to have this fact drummed into us quite so much :)

I'm not at all insinuating that all Americans do this, of course. But it does seem to be an often proclaimed thing.

perpetua

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Perpetua just out of curiosity since you've mentioned it once or twice: do you think Americans live the same no matter where we are? That a person living in the heart of Detroit lives his life the same as a farmer in the middle of South Dakota?

Goodness no, of course not. I don't think I've ever insinuated that they do. Of course there are huge differences. What I'm saying is that the variations in how people live in other countries from area to area are just as striking - perhaps even more so because of the smaller distances involved. Regional variations are not unique to America, but to read this (and other) forums sometimes, one could be forgiven for thinking that Americans think it *is* unique to the US.

Conversely, do you think that people in the heart of London live the same way as farmers in rural Cornwall? I'd imagine not.

saki

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Perpetua just out of curiosity since you've mentioned it once or twice: do you think Americans live the same no matter where we are? That a person living in the heart of Detroit lives his life the same as a farmer in the middle of South Dakota?

Saki I don't quite know how to quantify "more diverse" since the ethnic make up varies wildly from lace to place in the US but we do have some very diverse *areas* and peoples. The Amish in Pennsylvania and a few other States. Some of the Indian reservations. Hawaii. Parts of the Southwest where Spanish is still spoken 250 years after Spanish colonization as the primary language. Come to that I have a friend whose grandmother grew up in either Northern Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and never learned English until well after she was an adult; her tiny village spoke German.

When colonists came here they tended to group together. It's why New Glarus Wisconsin basks in its Swiss heritage and Pella Iowa in its Dutch.

I am aware that different parts of the US can be very different.  But that's not unique to the US, by any means.  The UK has some very diverse areas and peoples too.  For example, parts of Wales are mostly Welsh speaking.  Both Wales and Cornwall were heavily influenced by mining but Wales was much more heavily unionised than Cornwall and this has had some interesting social repercussions.  Some parts of the UK are very very socially conservative - I've seen a "no playing on Sundays" sign on a playground in the north of Scotland - some parts are incredibly liberal (e.g. certain areas of London like Soho).  Some parts of the UK have unexpected communities - the first mosque in the UK was built in 1860 in Cardiff because sailors from Yemen settled there in the 19th century and there is still a Yemeni community there today.  I could go on with random facts about bits of the UK but hopefully the original point that I was making is clear - that one of the things that I find surprising about spending time in the US is the number of Americans who think that the US is uniquely diverse (despite often not having even visited another country so not having any experience to compare it to.)
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 10:40:01 AM by saki »

Wordgeek

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Is anyone arguing that diversity is unique to the US?  I hadn't thought so.

Nor is this is a competition, in that there is no prize awaiting the country declared Most Diverse.  The goal of the discussion is to increase understanding and promote tolerance.