posted on Nov, 18 2010 @ 07:31 AM
I've recently become a US citizen -- born, raised, and lived most of my life in Germany. I've been here in the US for about 11 years now. I don't
know what a "typical" American is, but I can tell you what I see as the most obvious differences to Germans/Europeans.
- As one other poster said, to a European it's amazing how open and friendly Americans are when you first come here. Germans are often wary of
strangers and generally a suspicious and slightly grumpy lot. Americans, comparatively, are incredibly nice and helpful... so much so that some
Germans I know think it's disgusting and not genuine.
- Germans (don't know about other Europeans) seem to have much stronger bonds in general. They can fight and argue, and five minutes later make up
and be just fine; here, it seems, people will hold a grudge against you forever if you don't "behave." Germans take forever to make friends (if you
know someone less than five years, you're not a friend, you're an "acquaintance"), but once they do, they're very faithful in their friendships
and would go through hell and back for you. Americans seem to make friends very quickly and easily (I used to joke, "May I introduce you to my good
friend Joe? We just met back in the men's room."), but those friendships seem rather superficial in comparison.
- Americans are a lot more charitable than Germans. I've never seen so many people doing some sort of volunteer work... in fact, in Germany we don't
even have that many charitable organizations, because no one's willing to volunteer. It's so ingrained in the American mindset that it's almost a
"culture of volunteering."
- The flipside of Americans' kindness and friendliness is that most Americans I know are extremely nonconfrontational... to the point of cowardice.
If any kind of unpleasant topic comes up, or an argument is brewing, they rather withdraw and walk away than talk it out. Sometimes that's very
frustrating to me, because Germans (and I'm no exception) tend to be very opinionated and love to debate. Sometimes we have heated political
discussions and then slap each other's backs and go have a beer together. Here that seems almost impossible: a discrepancy of opinion almost equals
being enemies... "If you're not with me, you're against me," that kind of thing. It's really sad to me. PLUS, IMO, it breeds a sheeplike attitude
(because you don't want to "make waves"), which results in following orders from "authority figures" without questioning. Germans are a lot more
cantankerous and belligerent -- if there were another "Nazi Germany," I think the preconditions would be much better for that in the US today.
- Americans are more patriotic and nationalistic than any nation I've ever seen before. Germans, for example, are not patriotic at all. In school, we
get hammered into us that we need to be ashamed of our history and by extension our country, and we don't have a spark of patriotism in us (except
for the Neo-Nazis, of course, they have too much of it). So, on one hand I was always impressed by the Americans' fierce love of their country and
found it quite endearing. On the other hand it's downright scary at times, because it often breeds an unquestioning support of anything and
everything the US government does, including those completely pointless wars in the Middle East or the x-ray scanning and groping at airports now. I
still get goosebumps when I hear kids say the Pledge of Allegiance, and not in a good way.
If Americans could just realize that their "country" is not equal to their government, and that politicians are not working in their best interest
and never have, things could change quite a bit here... for the better, IMO.
There are many other things, but I gotta stop for now.