Tuesday, December 4, 2012

German Perceptions of Americans

First, there are the obvious surface impressions of big automobiles, big houses and large buildings that have been confirmed. But many Germans agreed they don't expect Americans to be warm and friendly or engaging. Think "hot shot on wall street", can't even get the time of day from them, that's how we're seen.
Generally speaking, Germans have a positive perception of the U.S. and its citizens. This is mainly based on U.S.-actions after World War II, the sciences, and its economic superpower status. 

Also, almost every German I know wants to see the U.S., at least once. -The 'American Dream' is fed to us as U.S. citizens in history classes but Germany it is still used to show how great of a country we are. 

English is taught as a second language in nearly every Europena country as it'S the international language, but in Germany I was surprised with actually how many people spoke English. Nearly everyone under the age of 50 spoke at least enough English to get by.

U.S. culture is freely available via cable telivision and the Germans soak it up! Though most programs are also translated into German, everyone knows about Jersey Shore.

An American band, in Germany will have people flocking to see them play. A German band, forget it. It is a lot more difficult for German musicians to attract a crowd than for musicians from the U.S., or the UK. 

U.S. books and magazines are sold and read widely. Again, a lot of these are translated but Hollywood is just as important in Germany as it is in the states. Everyone knows about the newest American films and everyone wants to see them.

However, some things are really hard to understand for Germans, such as: the death penalty, prisons, cops, gun control and use... Overall, the respective mentalities are quite different. For example, young Americans are seen as more outgoing and self-confident than their German counterparts. But Germans generally tend to say what they mean, otherwise they would be silent.

Whereas Americans are seen as more evasive about certain matters, but do it very elaborately. If a German invites you to stay at their house, it is serious. If an American invites you, it can be mere politeness. If a German asks how you are, he is really interested. If an American asks how you are, he does not expect to hear anything other than 'fine, thanks'.
Germans feel a little uncomfortable with the ubiquitous displays of patriotism in our schools and in the community, including American flags in each school room and the Pledge of Allegiance, which is said at the beginning of each school day. Patriotism isn't so big in Germany.

Of course, it is easy to generalize people. Every group of people is made up of all kinds of individuals, right? 

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