Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 48864 times)

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Dr. F.

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I was reminded of this thread the other day as I was checking out at the grocery. They needed my ID to process the wine I bought (note: I am over 20 years over the age limit. It must be a corporate policy). She noted that my ID is from California, though I'm in Virginia. I said that I'd been on a temporary assignment out here for a while, but need to now transfer everything over (this is on my list for the New Year).

She said, "Oh! I've always wanted to visit California!"

Me: "What part?"

Her: "Oh, any! Aren't they all the same? It's California!"

I told her that the state is crazy diverse, in biogeographic terms. From coastal strand, coastal sage scrub, the central valley, to high Sierra, redwoods, etc. etc. etc.

The notion that going to LA would be the same as going to, I don't know - Davis?!?!, or even Barstow is sort of mind-boggling.

Library Dragon

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Ouch! That always hurts this Californian heart. The Mojave Desert is slightly different than Berkeley.

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PastryGoddess

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Virginia is a fairly large and diverse state as well, it's amazing that is didn't occur to her that other states were the same.

Thipu1

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Virginia is a fairly large and diverse state as well, it's amazing that is didn't occur to her that other states were the same.

You would be amazed at what people believe.
  We once met a woman who flew from the west coast to NYC and rented a car to drive to Vermont. She expressed great surprise to find that there were rural areas in upstate NY.  Apparently, she thought NY would be Times Square right up to the Vermont border.   

Snooks

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That would depend on what tv you watch, and I generally distrust anything factual or documentary done by Americans unless it's about America. Somehow the Brits guve it more class.

Outside that and into shows...no, I completely disagree. It's television and movies that give people the wrong indignation in the first place.

I'm guessing that means you don't get Frontline.

US TV programs tend to show NYC and LA. That's not most of the country nor how most live.

As for non-white UK actors: Parminder Nagra, Idris Elba and Colin Salmon all jump to my mind.

I looked up all  three. Nagra I recognize from ER. The other two I do not recognize at all nor have I ever watched the couple of shows they are known for. I just can't think of any non-Caucasian actor or singer who has risen to the level of Denzel Washington or a Beyoncé or a Eva Longoria.

For me, Idris Elba is most notable for Heimdall, in the Thor movies.

David Harewood from Homeland is another one.  It seems that a lot of Brits don't get on TV in the US as Brits so along with Idris Elba there was Dominic West in The Wire, David Harewood joined by Damien Lewis in Homeland, Hugh Laurie in House (is he known in the US as Stephen Fry's comedy partner too?), Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire.  I'm sure there's more but those are the ones who spring to mind.

I wanted to second what perpetua said about how it seems really strange to hear people refer to their ancestry.  I worked for someone who's parents and three elder siblings were all immigrants to the UK but she identifies herself as English.  Your ancestry really doesn't tend to figure in the UK.

Sophia

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People identify themselves as American.  Ancestral origin country is a small distinction and a safe difference to discuss.  Sometimes people gather based on that because it gives them something in common.  I think it also has something to do with America still being a young country. 
eta: For example, if you want to play Taroky (the worlds best trump card game) you pretty much have to go to the Czech club. 
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 02:37:52 PM by Sophia »

nutraxfornerves

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Quote
Her: "Oh, any! Aren't they all the same? It's California!"
When laws prohibiting smoking in bars & restaurants were being debated around the world, I ran in to a number of similar statements about California's early adoption of such laws: "Yeah, but in California, you don't have to worry about standing outside to smoke in the cold and snow." Apparently not thinking of (or knowing about) all those ski resorts and mountain towns, not to mention desert areas that can get very cold at night in winter.

People are also surprised to hear that California's number one industry is agriculture. (That includes not just farming, but all the things that support farming, like fertilizers, tractors, and consultants.)  No one thinks of California as a major producer of cotton or rice--or that the top farm commodity in terms of value is milk & other dairy products.

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Diane AKA Traska

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Quote
Her: "Oh, any! Aren't they all the same? It's California!"
When laws prohibiting smoking in bars & restaurants were being debated around the world, I ran in to a number of similar statements about California's early adoption of such laws: "Yeah, but in California, you don't have to worry about standing outside to smoke in the cold and snow." Apparently not thinking of (or knowing about) all those ski resorts and mountain towns, not to mention desert areas that can get very cold at night in winter.

People are also surprised to hear that California's number one industry is agriculture. (That includes not just farming, but all the things that support farming, like fertilizers, tractors, and consultants.)  No one thinks of California as a major producer of cotton or rice--or that the top farm commodity in terms of value is milk & other dairy products.

I've always thought North and South California should be separate states.  They are as different as, say, Florida and Idaho.
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Katana_Geldar

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People identify themselves as American.  Ancestral origin country is a small distinction and a safe difference to discuss.  Sometimes people gather based on that because it gives them something in common.  I think it also has something to do with America still being a young country. 
eta: For example, if you want to play Taroky (the worlds best trump card game) you pretty much have to go to the Czech club.
Australia is an even younger country and you rarely hear about people's ancestry unless it's fairly recent. That might be because a lot of our ancestors came here with chains around their ankles.

Venus193

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Many Americans feel snubbed when people from countries with longer histories talk about what a young country the US is.  As though we have no values or education.

The other issue -- at least for my generation -- is that people from different European countries look diverse enough so that is reflected in their US-born descendants.

Wordgeek

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The modern state of the US is younger than some nations and older than others.  It's older than my country, for example.   Calling a country young is not a statement on its values or education.

...but people can get offended at all sorts of things, I suppose.

Venus193

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It's the tone, not just the words, that makes this a snub.

Scuslidge

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A couple of years ago, an exchange student from Germany who was being hosted by some friends of ours was quite indignant that he had to study U.S. history at school here.  As far as he was concerned, our country was not old enough to have to study its history.  That's what he told me, at any rate.  I think it's that kind of attitude that can get wearing to a U.S. citizen. 

I love the U.S. and I would be among those who would say it's the best country in the world.  However, I have often expressed that I would hope everyone would think their own country was the best in the world!  I've loved visiting Europe, Canada and Mexico - but think home is the best.  I always wanted the exchange students we have hosted throughout the years to learn to love our country, but still think that their own is the best.  I hope that makes sense!

iridaceae

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Many Americans feel snubbed when people from countries with longer histories talk about what a young country the US is.  As though we have no values or education.

I have never heard that. What I hear is how horrible the US is: our food is terrible: well yes if you've only eaten cheez whiz and McDonald's. Our language is atrocious (and yet you use that ultimate American word okay).  Our TV shows- well. They aren't produced by the BBC,  are they? We're loud,  crude,  obnoxious.....


ETA It got so bad on a different board that I asked if there was anything non-US citizens liked about the US. (The winners were Cajun food and barbecues).
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 05:33:27 AM by iridaceae »

perpetua

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I can understand how frustrating it must get to have where you live constantly derided like that.

To present the opposite perspective though, I think non-US folks sometimes find the proclamations about everything in the US being bigger and better than it is everywhere else equally tiring. I'm by no means suggesting that everyone from the US thinks this, of course! But it does seem to be a very prevalent thing, especially on t'interwebs.  I honestly think that some of these statements are people from other countries just kicking back against that. There are of course much better and more polite ways of doing it than saying 'yeah, well, your food sucks!' though :)

As for the German exchange student, he was being ridiculous. History doesn't have to be ancient to qualify as history. Heck, what happened yesterday is history. And actually, I'd have to think that a lot of US history is just as relevant to those studying history, since so much *has* happened in a comparatively short space of time - isn't the whole point of history to document change and progress?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 05:41:52 AM by perpetua »