Have you ever wondered what people actually think about you?
Let’s take this one step further: have you ever wondered what the rest of the world thinks about your entire country? It’s easy to get caught up in our own world because, hey, we don’t exactly live anywhere else – but it might just be worthwhile to take a healthy look at America from the perspective of someone who doesn’t live between the sea and the shining sea.
For us, going to other countries can be a whole new experience, because cultures can change drastically when you cross a border. So let’s take a look at what people think when someone from overseas boards a jet and lands in the Home of the Brave
We love our stereotypes (Which is also a stereotype)
According to a ‘rabidly British person’ from Cracked.com, not everyone is thrilled with the way Americans think. It seems that one of our worst eccentricities has to do with our tendency to generalize. In our defense, though, that statement is also kind of a stereotype.
In a way, we get nailed to our own stereotype. For instance, we love our American flags, eagles, eagles on our American flags, guns, eagles holding guns, giant American flags over car dealerships, and majestic eagle bumper stickers on the pickup truck we bought from the aforementioned dealerships.
However, we also are guilty of stereotyping other cultures; thinking that all Jamaicans have dreads and like reggae music, all British people say the word govnah, and the French don’t have a word for entrepreneur. In a way, it’s possibly because we all watch too much TV, but that’s a different matter entirely.
We treat diversity like it’s a thing
Even though we have a tendency to create stereotypes of other countries and cultures, it could be because we’re a nation of immigrants; and like the way siblings tend to get a little rambunctious when stuck in the car on a 10-hour trip to Grandma’s house, we’ve been living, working, and worshiping together in diversity for more than 200 years.
With that said, the US takes 85th place in its ethnic diversity rating; however, we’re still one of the most diversity-conscious nations in the world.
All in all: no, we’re not the most heartfelt, loving, or gooey nation, but most of us do go that extra mile to make sure that everyone feels included in our melting pot. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re always getting better.
Nothing Is Ever Priced Correctly
Okay, I’m sure this is one eccentricity that even American’s could do without: what is up with our prices? Any time we go out to eat, what we see on the menu is not how much we’re actually going to have to shell out by the end of our hamburger, ‘French’ fries, and dill pickle.
Americans are famous for our confusing pricing issues. Why isn’t the sales tax included on the sticker? Is it really that difficult to throw in that extra 6-8% on the tag?
In the same way, another thing that drives our visitors from abroad crazy is the whole tipping thing. While there are lots of other countries that do throw a tip or two in the pocket of a bartender, the US is infamous for our expectation of ungodly high tips. Most other countries are at 5-10%. Americans double that – hence the confusion from our friends abroad.
I might also point out that we allow our restaurants to exempt their servers from the minimum wage, insisting instead that the customers subsidize their greed with tips, but that’s a conversation for another time.
We make really good friends… apparently
Unfortunately for us, we have the strangest ID-checking laws. Basically, if you don’t look 47, then you’re going to get carded for a pack of smokes – and everybody else finds this an odd thing. Granted, that pales in comparison to the level of strangeness in our drinking laws. So an 18-year-old can get drafted into a war, but the poor individual can’t even crack open a Guinness before shipping out?
I suppose there is a certain level of give-and-take – and while we don’t seem to trust anyone under 21 with so much as a pair of scissors, we tend to make for being the most excellent and loyal friends.
Call it ‘traditional’ or ‘southern hospitality.’ Or maybe it’s just because everyone is on Facebook. Either way, foreigners have noticed that they always seem to make long-lasting friendships every time they visit. I believe it’s because we’re a very diversity-minded group of people. Also, because our villages and towns aren’t steeped in 700-year generational history, we tend to welcome new faces with open arms.
America is still young
For all of our deeply-ingrained eccentricities, though, America is still a relatively young country with a lot of growing to do. We’re still a prudish nation, we’re still arrogant, and we still, occasionally, need to pass laws that tell us not to discriminate against each other. But we’re getting there.
Compared to most other countries, America is still going through the jovial-but-adolescent phase in its life. We’re kind of like that younger brother that sometimes throws stones, but will still give you a big hug when you’re having a rough day. Here’s to youth!
Image Credit: Flickr (via Creative Commons)
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