Average Everyday European's view of the Average Everyday American?

Well the question speaks for itself?

What is the Average everyday European’s view of an average everyday American? One of the reasons I ask, is that I have a student this year who just got back from a year abroad, I recently saw him at the store and I asked how is year at the Sorbonne was? He told me an abbreviated version of his studies and the family he stayed with and his French Girlfriend who is moving here to live with him etc…etc…One thing he mentioned about the family he stayed with was that when he arrived for his first day they had placed several large bags of potato chips in the room he stayed in…thinking this was mildly amusing he went along with it and didn’t say much to the fam.

So, again, what is the average everyday European’s view of Americans?

Europeans everywhere are flattered beyond belief that you feel that those europeans who patronize the SDMB represent an accurate and appropriate cross-section of Europeans everywhere.

Sadly, this is not the case.

Much like the Americans on the SDMB aren’t exactly a cross section of the US population, either. :slight_smile:

All right, I’ll give it a go. I’m hardly the average European, in that I probably know a little more about the US now, having married an American girl, and spending a lot of time there, and on the SDMB. So I’m going to pretend to be the average Dutchman.

The average Dutchman likes Americans, mostly. Not their politics, mind you, but the Dutch are generally pretty good about dividing a country’s politicians and its inhabitants. Of course, they WILL give you a hard time over it anyway, but that’s all in good fun. :slight_smile:

Anyways, to the average Dutchman, the average American is a person who’s friendly, enthusiastic, not too well versed in the land he’s visiting, but genuinely eager to learn nonetheless. They’re a little louder than we are (though not much, for we’re not the quietest of nations either), they’re certainly a tad shorter and bigger - on average. We like hearing stories of how your grandfathers or fathers liberated us in WWII (honestly, we do), but don’t pull the “If it weren’t for us…” thing when a Dutchman corners you in a political debate. Not done. :smiley:

Similarly, we dislike snotty attitudes about our liberal policies vis-a-vis abortion, euthanasia, prostitution, and pot smoking. We tend to think anyone who disagrees with those is rather naive, and sheltered. In short, the average Dutchman is probably just as short-sighted about his nation’s policies as the average American, it’s just that our controversial policies generally tend to be internal affairs. :wink:

All in all, even though there’s a substantial political gap, the average Dutchman likes the average American just fine. Note: the above views aren’t necessarily mine, but they’re my estimation of John Q. Cloggie. :slight_smile:

Something I’ve always wondered. We like to make a big deal of our diversity and all that. But when a European thinks of an American, is he/she white?

When I ask my pals from China and the Philippines, they think of white people when they picture an American.

I’d say the average Brit thinks of the average American as unreserved, competitive, outgoing.
Sometimes they (ok ‘we’) associate Americans with loudness. I’ve been a fly on the wall for many conversations on trains involving Americans, and the volume was rather higher than the ambient level of the train.

P.S. Our Louis Theroux doesn’t exactly help the cause for a positive brit view of Americans.

In the office where I work, it’s sometimes hard to talk on the phone because the guys in that office talk so loudly. I was at someone’s house a few years ago, and they were virtually shouting at each other. On the other hand, I had a co-worker who kept asking me to repeat myself since apparently I’m not a loud talker.

This doesn’t really count, but my brother, who is studying abroad and recently came home for a visit, said he knew when he had reached an American airport because there were many more fat people.

I, also an American, can say he is right. There are certianly obese people everywhere, but he said in the US there are a lot more really-obese people than other places. In Europe, it is not common to see a 400+ pound person walking around… while here I can go to Walmart and probably see several in one visit.

The Americans we meet in London are a a fairly mixed bunch. We get a lot of elderly tourists who are “doing europe”. Why do old people with mobility problems wear track suits and trainers? They’re not going to start running.

We also get plenty of younger ones, and those in between too.

My main take on Americans is that there is a huge difference in their behaviour and their levels of real confidence. They tend to appear to be brash (often to the point of boorishness) and massively over-patriotic in manner, and yet they are absolutely terrified, of doing the wrong thing, wearing the wrong clothes and generally sticking out in a crowd. They are actually more conformist than the Japanese tourists.

But the average Brit is pretty warm towards the average american (Although we do think you’re often simpletons). After all we get a lot of yank pop-culture here, and generally like it.

Out of curiosity, what would you consider “simpleton”-like? I ask because of an experience I had in London a few years ago. I was visiting my cousin, and her mom (my aunt, of course) happened to be there as well. My aunt took me to visit with a good friend of hers, who was having a few guests over. (I hope this is clear - basically, I was with my aunt and a few strangers in London.) I had what at the time seemed like a pleasant conversation with one of the other guests, but afterwards, my aunt made a derogatory comment about the guy I was chatting with (she had known him for years). I commented that he seemed perfectly nice to me, but she told me it was just because I didn’t know him, and that it was clear to her that he thought I was an idiot, because in the course of the conversation I had made a couple of errors:

  • I had confessed not understanding how the British educational system works. He had explained what O and A levels were.

  • I had commented that I hadn’t seen any “Asian” people in London so far, not realizing that “Asian” in British English indicates Indian and Pakistani people - in American English, “Asian” refers specifically to people from farther north - Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people are Asian. Indians and Pakistanis are Southeast Asians or just Indians and Pakistanis. (Later, the point was entirely moot after I got stunningly lost and ended up wandering around through London’s Chinatown.)

Opinions - should I have known these things, or was this guy just a boor?

The same reason young people do: they are comfortable, cheap if you know where to shop, easy to take care of, and all-around practical.

Why should elderly women with, say, bad arthritis in their knees and ankles wear high heels? Cushioning is your friend.

Yeah, I’d say that’s the case. The vast majority of visiting Americans over here are white, and either college age backpacking kids or people in their 50’s and 60’s “doing Europe”. But above all, they’re 90% white. The youngsters tend to be a little more diverse than the older group, but not by much.

Old people wear track suits (sweats) and trainers (sneakers) because there are no buttons or zippers. Track suits are very easy to get in and out of when your hands hurt. They are also warm and non-binding. Trainers are very comfortable supportive shoes when you are spending a lot of time walking.

Kyla: yes, he was a boor.

Growing up, my idea of the average American was taken from TV sitcoms: they all lived in identical houses, with a front door and a staircase in the living room, and sat round the table facing the camera.

I don’t think I’m an average European, so I should probably not comment. I know and work with lots of Americans, there’s nothing homogenous about them (except that, possibly, a lot of Americans who choose to live in Europe are Democrats…).

However, I’d agree that there is a common perception that they are a LOT fatter than the average European (apart from Californians, who all look like like Barbie dolls).

As for the tourist clothing: there is no other nationality on earth, as far as I know, with the same fondness for plaid pants. But tourists in general tend to think that decent clothes are an optional extra, and it drives me crazy. Maybe it’s because I live in Italy, where comfort doesn’t necessarily equate with looking like a slob.

Happened to me too; the host family I stayed with in Spain were constantly screaming at each other. Once during a particularly rambunctious argument, I asked the daughter, “Is everything OK?” She said matter of factly, “Why sure, everything’s fine. That’s just how we talk to each other.”

I rarely notice fashions but I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw anyone, say where I work, wear plaid pants. I haven’t worn them since 5th grade in 1975. Do you really see a lot of American tourists wearing them? All ages, both genders?

The Times has traditionally run in its letters page a “first cuckoo of summer” contest where people can report the first sighting of a cuckoo.

This year it also had a similar thing for “first sighting of an American tourist in shorts”. Tracksuits and shorts. What is it with you people? And don’t get me started on the hats.

Shorts? What’s so weird about shorts? I’m wearing them right now AIFG!

If you’re talking elderly women wearing Daisy Dukes, that’s one thing, but ordinary shorts? If you’re so easily shocked I suggest you never go to your little island of Bermuda :smiley:

In general, I think Americans dress much more casually than Europeans. They wear shorts, tee shirts and baseball caps everywhere, while most Europeans don’t.

On vacation? I see plenty of tourists dressed such on the streets of NY; can’t tell they’re European until they start to talk.