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Thread: What make European similar compared to other countries

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    What make Europeans similar compared to other countries



    With the rise of the European Union and the imminent enlargement to 10 Eastern European countries on 1st May, some people, inside or outside the EU, are wondering what it means to be European. If it is true that each country of linguistic group has its own culture, customs and way of doing things, it is nevertheless undeniable that European stand out as a group when compared to other Western countries (US, Australia...) or non Western-countries.

    So what do have Europeans in common, among this cultural and linguistic melting pot ?

    First, history and proximity. Europe is the same continent and each countries have continually influenced each others throughout the history until present. Not only did technology, political regimes and the evolution of religious believes surpass borders, so did fashion, music, ideals and artistic currents (baroque, romantic...). Whether you take the 13th, 16th, 18th or 19th century, architecture, music, lifestyle and way of dressing, even speaking, have evolved as one in virtually all Europe.

    The conception of history itslef is a divide between Europeans and, say, Americans (of the whole continent) or Oceanians. When one grows up in a place where the local church or castle is 500 years old, or one's own house is 200 years old, 100 years doesn't feel that long. Besides, most Europeans are better aware of and interested in history (not just European, but world history), than most other people in the world.

    Nowadays, one of the most obvious rift between Europeans and Americans is religion. Anywhere in Europe (yes, even, and especially in Italy), churches are almost empty on Sundays. In several countries, they would if it weren't for a few elderly women... A recent survey of the BBC shows the gap between the UK and US, regarding beliefs in God and church attendance. It seems to me that countries like France or Belgium have even lower figures than Britain.

    Two other things that can unite (or divide) present-day Europeans are food and clothes. Obviously, each country has its own cuisine and way of dressing and there doesn't seem to be much point in comparing a Brits to Italians on this issue. Yet there is. If we take the US as a benchmark, Italy and the UK can be strikingly similar, as are all Europeans. It's not just that fast-food is not a European favourite, it's more that one can find nowadays Italian, French or Chinese restaurants in any countries, and many Brits probably eat more pasta (or curry, which actually make them different again ) than "traditional" British food. There is certainly a similarity between European diets, as Europeans are rarely fat, and when they are, almost never the way Americans can get. No need to say that taking non-Western countries as a benchmark would make European food even more similar. Then few people know that lasagna was possibly invented in England, not Italy ! (=> see article ). It just goes on to prove how interconnected and similar Europe has always be. Another major similarity is that Europeans in all countries make and eat a lot of cheese (sharp contrast to Japan or East Asia, though Ameticans are somewhere in between).

    Going back to clothing, Europeans usually dress more formally than Americans or Australians. Compared to Japanese, even when both are wearing suits, the difference in style is evident. Japanese salarymen so-to-say always wear black (or grey for older people) suits and quite simple, not too colourful or original ties. European designer even need to make special, simpler models for Japan. If you go to Paul Smith or E. Zegna in Tokyo, only the imported ties (i.e. European-made) stand out as really original. Another main disparity is that European (in any country) wear beige, brown, khaki or green suits, tend to wear much more wool jumpers or cardigans than Japanese. I suppose that hair colour is determinant, as Italians are the ones to wear the more black suits, and Germanic European (Brits, Dutch people, Germans, Scandivanians) the less black suits.

    Further, Europeans tend to be more intellectual, dare I say any other people in the world. They are the ones who like debating history, philosophy, world problems, politics, cultural differences, watch documentaries or want to know every technical details about new mobile phones, camcorders or cars, even if they don't intend to buy any (just for the sake of knowledge). In comparison, both the average Americans, and vast majority of Japanese are much more practical and only really care about money and "easy entertainment" (TV, movies, celebrities, sex, sports...). No wonder that European universities are so-to-say free and don't usually require entrance examinations. There are so many young people who study for its own sake, without really knowing what they want to do in life. It's now common to find people who study 7 or 10 years at university in France or Germany, because they want to learn more, can't find a job, prefer studying than working, or just worry about not getting a job without a PhD in something and a Master in something else (I exaggerate a bit, but I know such people). In comparison, my impression is that Americans and Japanese study with only aim to get a job, Americans aiming at success (power, money, prestige, fame), Japanese aiming at high-salaries (only). Of course, it's a generalisation, but that gives the trend for each country. IMO, Other East-Asians are very much like Japanese. India would be the most similar culture to Europe regarding learning for its own sake - maybe even more so. Incidentally, I've met quite a few Indians who were doctors in medicine or lawyer but work as small shop-owners. It's also normal for Indians to speak more than 5 languages (some will tell you 10 or 15, but they probably includes dialects). I've met Indian children living in the streets, who have never been to school, but who could speak English, French, Italian, Japanese and/or Hebrew, with a better accent than any Japanese could hope for.

    Politically, Europe is mostly "socialist-capitalist" for the moment. I mean by socialist, except for the name of ruling parties, that social security is very developed compared to the US, or even Japan. Government medicare covers the larger part or all medical cost, depending on the countries. So, for instance all visit to the doctors or hospital are free in the UK, and public hospital in Spain or Italy are also free (even for foreigners). Education is free from nursery school to university in all Europe to the best of my knowledge. Even university exchange programmes inside the EU (Erasmus...) are free and encouraged by the government (in my business school, all students had to study twice in another EU country). In most EU countries, motorways (=expressways) are free (exceptions are France and Italy). All EU countries have strong social security benefits regarding unemployment, and taxes rates are high to pay for all this and redistribute money for more equality (though it seems that Japan has still smaller gaps between the rich and the poor).

    To summarise, Europeans are similar in their interest for intellectual issues, their learning of languages (the English still lag behind though), their liking for learning and debating, their openness to the world and other cultures, their relatively similar fashion and lifestyle, their relationship to history and low religiousness, high social security and taxes levels. Regarding language learning and low religiousness, this has not always been so, and older generations are still an exception.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 29-12-11 at 10:10.

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    LOL!

    I would make some crack about Europeans being united in their snobbery, but it really wouldn't be fair. You are the first truely outrageous Euro-snob I've ever encountered. I had heard about folks like you, but never actually run across them.

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    Interesting stand on Europe, Maciamo! Kudos, you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew C. Perry
    LOL!

    I would make some crack about Europeans being united in their snobbery, but it really wouldn't be fair. You are the first truely outrageous Euro-snob I've ever encountered. I had heard about folks like you, but never actually run across them.
    What are you talking about ? Could you frankly say (with supporting experience are stats) that what I wrote does not reflect a general tendency ? Anyway, I am talking mostly about facts (government, system, way of dressing, eating, education...). The only too things that are more based on experience are low-religiouness and intellectualism. I don't see why having a majority of people not attending church or not (really) beleiveing in Christianity/God be snobbism (except if you consider than theist are idiots, but I have never said that).

    For intellectualism, it's obvious that more Europeans are compared to Americans/Australian. I am pretty sure for Australia for having spent 6 months there and be appalled at the low level of intellectual knowledge (when people don't even know that Belgium in a country in Europe or in what year their own country became independant from the UK), especially outside big cities.

    There has been enough talk about the average Americans. How many of them think their capital is New York, or can't cite 5 US president (I am not even asking the dates of rule, political party, or more biographical aspects, which should be common knowledge for citizens of so young a country).

    I probably know more about US history, economy or geography that 80% of Americans themselves, which is not even a matter to be proud of. I am also personally applalled at the stupidity of some very ordinary Europeans, even in my own family. But compared to the best American specimen, it's still mild.

    Without taking extreme cases into account, I have quite a few friends who were exchange student in the States, and those having been to highschool there all say that what they learn in 6th year in the States is equivalent to 3rd or 4th year in Europe for subjects like sciences or maths (European education system has been roughly harmonised, so that EU diplomas can be equivalent between countries).

    I am obviously not saying that all Americans are ignorants, and actually there is a part of the US elite (probably less than 10% of the population) that are well-edcuated and better than EU average, with lots of brillant intellectuals that leads the country's scientific and academic research. But anyone having compared seriously Europe and te US knows that the latter is plagued by huge discrepancies as well in salaries as in education. You can find the best and worst people in the US, but I am only being reasonable when I estimate that there are more poorly educated people (I am not talking about "pure" intelligence, like IQ, as proportions should be fairly stable in any country), and that this proportion of poorly educated people is lower in Europe.

    Please note that deciding what is a "good education level" is subjective, and if it were up too my personnal criteria, I'd say that 95% of Europeans and Americans are poorly educated. After all that is not so much, as the 5% left represent about 15 million Americans and 20 million Europeans. More than enough to provide leaders (hmm, Bush & co aren't included among "well-educated", of course ), managers, entrepreneurs, scientists and acedemicians. And even so, they do not all need to be well-educated themselves. Specialists might know well about one thing, but not necessarily be cultivated people.

    NB : I have made an effort to use US English in this post.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 27-03-04 at 12:59.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    What are you talking about ?
    I was also wondering what he was talking about, because you are definitely NOT a snob!! Quite the contrary!

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    I probably know more about US history, economy or geography that 80% of Americans themselves, which is not even a matter to be proud of. I am also personally applalled at the stupidity of some very ordinary Europeans, even in my own family. But compared to the best American specimen, it's still mild.
    I'm sure that you know quite a bit, Maciamo. There is also very little doubt of the fact that you have deep-seated psychological issues regarding Americans. If I were you, I would quickly take advantage of the lauded European public health system, and get some professional help.

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    I'm suddenly feeling very dumb?

    First of all, I want to say that I don't think Maciamo is a snob. He's a very nice and friendly guy who's always there to help. He's got a good sense of humor and is also very intelligent, which I find to be the perfect combination.

    Anyway, I would like to say that yes, America, as a whole, is dumb compared to some European countries. At least, in my opinion. However, it's not the fault of the regular citizens of this country. We've got a government who doesn't place enough emphasis and value on education. They're too power hungry and greedy, and spend too much time and money on other important things, like B2 bombers. America is a country that has the potential to be great, I truly believe that, but we need to get our priorities straight and work from the inside out. While we're off fighting senseless wars, the people of this country are being neglected, I believe.
    Last edited by kirei_na_me; 28-03-04 at 01:01.

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    I agree with Kirei that America has a very good potential to become a great country. At least by my standards. It is maybe already wonderful by other people's standards, but IMHO the government should do more to raise the education level, and I am not talking about alphabetisation for all children like Bush, but something much more substantial than that. I am personally not satisfied with the education system, politics and many other things in Europe. Many Europeans feel the same. I and the people who think like me may look like eternal unsatisfied, but I call that idealistic. It's only natural then that we are dimayed at seeing some people in the US (or more understandably in developing countries) praising America as a paradise on earth, because on almost every point (except economic growth ) I and other Europeans want to improve in Europe, the US do worse. I am not even discussing other hot and controversial issues like the right to have guns, the high crime rate in some big cities, the influence of Christianity in politics (like in gay marriage, "crusade against Islam", etc.), tough stance against cannabis and alcohol, or death penalty. These are completely unrelated issues that mostly depend on personnal opinion or States' laws.

    Matthew, you visibly didn't understand the purpose of this thread. I never intended to praise or criticise one country or another. I just wanted to think about what makes Europe different from the rest of the world, and what unites it in spite of the evident cultural difference of each linguistic group. I have tried to explain this logically and using as much objective comparisons (though general - can't consider each individual in country comparison) as possible, but subjectiveness is only human. Even if this is beyond your faculty of comprehension, I am asking you not to take it personally and reply so disgracefully as you did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kirei_na_me
    I'm suddenly feeling very dumb?

    First of all, I want to say that I don't think Maciamo is not a snob. He's a very nice and friendly guy who's always there to help. He's got a good sense of humor and is also very intelligent, which I find to be the perfect combination.

    Anyway, I would like to say that yes, America, as a whole, is dumb compared to some European countries. At least, in my opinion. However, it's not the fault of the regular citizens of this country. We've got a government who doesn't place enough emphasis and value on education. They're too power hungry and greedy, and spend too much time and money on other important things, like B2 bombers. America is a country that has the potential to be great, I truly believe that, but we need to get our priorities straight and work from the inside out. While we're off fighting senseless wars, the people of this country are being neglected, I believe.
    I agree wholeheartedly with everything Kirei_na_me said, except I would like to add that besides the government failing us, we also have been bombarded with corporate advertising in ways that surpass that imposed on any European countries, in attempts to turn our minds into mush (at least, that's how it seems sometimes) and make us more docile consumers! America has its problems, but it is a great country, and I don't think Maciamo was trying to say otherwise. I thought he was simply pointing out our "ugly American" history, which still exists today in places. Maciamo is an intellectual, not a snob. Big difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew C. Perry
    I'm sure that you know quite a bit, Maciamo. There is also very little doubt of the fact that you have deep-seated psychological issues regarding Americans. If I were you, I would quickly take advantage of the lauded European public health system, and get some professional help.
    If you disagree, why don't you try to disprove Maciamo's points? Getting personal is not really the way to show that he's wrong. More to the contrary.

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    Thumbs down

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew C. Perry
    I'm sure that you know quite a bit, Maciamo. There is also very little doubt of the fact that you have deep-seated psychological issues regarding Americans. If I were you, I would quickly take advantage of the lauded European public health system, and get some professional help.
    EErrr !?!?!?
    Perry....I think I can safely say... Your a bit of a PRAT !
    And if you don't know why, seek education. QUICKLY !!

    I have to agree with Bossel on this one.
    Last edited by Rachel; 28-03-04 at 01:38.

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    You may have hit the nail on the head about education, Maciamo. Our (American) education is not standardized and (maybe because we are a young country) not valued the way it could be. A lot of it has to do with the families that each school system serves (educational background, income, etc.). When I switched from a major urban system to a smaller, more upscale suburban, one I had some catching up to do (okay, it was 3rd grade--but there was still a difference).
    This sounds like an excellent discussion, so I'll do some thinking and be back later.

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    THE PROBLEM & ANSWER TO IT-ONE WORD....

    Quote Originally Posted by Satori
    I was also wondering what he was talking about, because you are definitely NOT a snob!! Quite the contrary!
    AVATAR!!

    It is just to arogant! Dressed in kingly colors! Hands on hips! Glaring down on all of us like we are lowly scum!
    As a PR move, you simply must put it to death! How bout an avatar dressed in rags, on it's knees, head bowed in supplication, maybe a few tears driping from it's eyes!
    Now a post under such an AVATAR would be so much easier to digest!

    Frank


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    Quote Originally Posted by Haivart
    You may have hit the nail on the head about education, Maciamo. Our (American) education is not standardized and (maybe because we are a young country) not valued the way it could be. A lot of it has to do with the families that each school system serves (educational background, income, etc.). When I switched from a major urban system to a smaller, more upscale suburban, one I had some catching up to do (okay, it was 3rd grade--but there was still a difference).
    This sounds like an excellent discussion, so I'll do some thinking and be back later.

    Haivart is exactly right. The difference between urban and suburban can be like night and day. Where I am living now, in a town with a population of around 950, the school system is one of the best in south central Virginia. Why? Because it's an extremely close-knit community that works together as a team. Everyone cares about everyone else and they are very supportive, willing to give their time as volunteers, willing to donate their money, and willing to use many other resources. Also, another difference and example is that a farming community like the one I live in is going to have a much better education system than a city that was built on, say, textile mills. I've lived in both and had family on the inside of the education system in both places. I know how different it can be. There are so many different factors to consider in this discussion.

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    Going back to Maciamo’s original post, as a European I would like to affirm and comment on some of the things he pointed out.

    Firstly history, a hundred years to us is as 100 miles is to the Americans. It ‘IS’ apart of our daily lives. Take my city.

    WORCESTER

    The Diocese of Worcester is one of 44 dioceses in the Church of England. It covers an area of 671 square miles and includes parishes in the County of Worcestershire, the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, and a few parishes in northern Gloucestershire, southeast Wolverhampton and Sandwell.

    The diocese was founded in around 679 by St Theodore of Canterbury for the tribe of the Hwicce.
    There’s been a settlement here since the Romans invaded.
    It’s home to the worlds oldest newspaper ‘The Berrow’s Journal’ which was founded in 1690 and is still running today.
    Worcester is the home of Lea & Perrins. Worcester Sauce is still being produced at the original factory.

    Every day I walk past a building Known as ‘The Commandery’, a black and white Tudor style building supported by oak beams.

    On the 22nd August 1651, Charles II entered the City of Worcester at the head of 18,000 men, and the King set up his Headquarters in a house within the city walls. The Duke of Hamilton and other Scottish officers were billeted with the Wylde family in The Commandery.

    William, 2nd Duke of Hamilton was the Royalist Commander in Chief and used the Commandery as his own personal Headquarters. During the Battle on the 3rd September 1651 The Duke was shot in the thigh bone during an attack on the Parliament guns at Perry Wood. He fell from his horse and was brought back to his headquarters at The Commandery, which was now being used as a dressing station for wounded Royalist soldiers. After the Battle had ended, The Duke was informed that amputation of the leg was the only way to survive his wound.
    Cromwell volunteered his own surgeon to perform the grisly task, but Hamilton refused and insisted that only a Royalist surgeon would undertake the operation. Cromwell refused.
    On 12th September 1651, in the Commandery, The Duke of Hamilton died of gangrene and blood poisoning, he is buried under the Alter in Worcester Cathedral, where a brass plaque marks his grave.

    And I’m just scratching the surface of the history of this one building.

    History. We have so much of the damn stuff we tend to be a bit blasé about it. But we tend to be more aware of it because we can’t escape it; there’s always something ready to pique our interest around the corner and down the street.

    2. Religion. Is it really a surprise that were moving away from it. Starting from the dark ages and up to today religion has been used as a social crutch, a means of control, a means of increasing wealth and as a justification for actions taken. Religion has played a key role in about 80% of the worlds conflicts. Religion has been and is still responsible for genocide, murder and torture on a scale that is immeasurable.
    And to be quite frank about it, were starting to get a bit sick of it !

    We don’t want to be told we have to kill our neighbour because he’s protestant instead of Roman Catholic. We don’t want to send 8-year-old children to war in the name of Allah. We don’t want to be ostracised by society simply because the person we love, with all our hart is of the same sex and we don’t want to be banned from going to school because we were born female instead of male.

    Religion is a bloody menace. Were not children, we don’t need a security blanket or comfy to feel safe anymore. Its time to move on.

    3.Cheese. Hmmm !!
    He’s right, If there’s one food all Europeans love its cheese. The French are the most passionate about it (They have over 750 types), followed a close second by Britain.(About 300 types just in England)

    In France to preserve and protect the traditions and experience of centuries of French cheesemaking, the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) system was established, as it has been for wine. Each cheese protected by the system must comply with strictly enforced rules that govern the following:

    1. The area where cattle may graze.
    2. The origin and type of feed provided.
    3. The breed of cattle that furnish the milk.
    4. When the cheese is made. (What season)
    5. How the cheese is made.
    6. The shape and size of the cheese.
    7. How the cheese is made.

    The regulations often mean that, cattle may only graze on permanent pastures that are organically managed, rather than ploughed and re-sown every year. The use of silage or other fermented or man made feed is prohibited.

    Today Cheddar accounts for about 70% of all cheese eaten in the uk. Half of which is proper farmhouse ceddar not that muck you get in the supermarkets
    In Britain before the war there had been 15,000 cheesemakers; by the time it ended, only 126 remained. In the past 15 years there has been a revolution, Block cheeses have improved, farmhouse cheesemakers are on the increase, old recipes are being revived and old breeds of cow are on the increase. If you’re a brit and you love cheese, things have never been better.

    And yes we probably do eat more pasta than ‘Traditional’ food. Because it’s so cheap. Besides the eating of what you call ‘Traditional’ British food has always been concentrated in the midlands and yorkshire.

    Damn running out of time, I’ll try and comment on the rest later if I get a chance.

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    I have to say that the longer I live here and the more travelling I do to Europe continent, the less I consider Ireland to be part of the European Union (culturally I mean - financially we're very dependent on the EU). Bah.

    And I tend to agree with his reasoning - and it's the fact that Ireland does not conform to those traits mentioned by Maciamo that enforces my personal opinion. Even this part:

    All EU countries have strong social security benefits regarding unemployment
    ...may be true but doesn't actually redistribute wealth effectively AT ALL (top tenth percentile of society controls 26% of wealth; bottom have 3% as of 2002 I believe?)

    I find myself tempted to sink deeply into an Ireland-related rant again; so I'll stop now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nekosasori
    ...may be true but doesn't actually redistribute wealth effectively AT ALL (top tenth percentile of society controls 26% of wealth; bottom have 3% as of 2002 I believe?)
    Redistributing wealth is not the aim of unemployment benefit. The aim is to provide those who become unemployed with the means to continue a decent existence.

    Redistributing wealth, hmm? Sounds a bit socialistic (or greenish, nowadays).

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    @bossel:

    Maciamo's sentence quoted fully was the following (italics added by me for emphasis):

    All EU countries have strong social security benefits regarding unemployment, and taxes rates are high to pay for all this and redistribute money for more equality (though it seems that Japan has still smaller gaps between the rich and the poor).
    It's my impression that the purpose of most (not all; the US one does come to mind) welfare systems serve to allow people to not end up homeless, but that also encourage people to seek legal employment. Unfortunately, I seem to see a disproportionate percentage of families on the dole here who are 1) still having difficulty handling the exorbitantly high cost of living - e.g. unable to provide an adequate environment for their children and 2) abusing the system (yes, I knew of system abusers in Canada, but not to this extent). I have my own theories as to why the percentages are so high here, of course...

    As for providing the unemployed with a "decent existence" - I have many qualms about the Irish government's treatment of some refugees - I mean the ones whom they don't attempt to deport (cf. the recent citizenship referendum where they're trying to give the Dail discretionary powers so that some immigrants' children won't be granted Irish citizenship when they're born in this country).

    Here's a real-life example: we have a confirmed mail thief living in my upscale condominium complex. He lives there with his wife and todder, rent and food subsidized by the government (about 1600Euro a month total), on condition that he doesn't seek any employment. He wanders around town daily, associating with other Eastern Europeans in a comparable situation. We complained to his landlord, who did nothing because the government is paying for his rent. We tried to catch him red-handed but the police wouldn't accept our evidence because it hadn't been actually sent through the post.

    As well I believe some other people similarly housed in my building ran a brothel ring out of their rented accommodations to supplement their income.

    In any case, I realize that it's difficult to make things work the way they're intended, in any country - but the dysfunction I've experienced here goes above and beyond anything else I'd imagined.

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    I know it hasn't been adopted by all of the EU countries yet, but the Euro is today one of the most important elements in the glue that bonds all of the European nations together. I only need to look closely at the coins in my pockets and there are Portuguese, Irish, Spanish, Italian, French and even German coins. It is quite amazing, and this is a good example of how geo-political borders are so easily crossed nowadays.

    And... did anyone saw the cerimonies of the comemoration of D-day? Who would imagine seeing the former Allies celebrating together with the Germans? Though I think there a long, long way to go before Japanese are invited to remember Pearl Harbour.

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    Maciamo, let me just say that this thread is exellent. Your observations in your intial post are right down exellent. I have been thinking the same thing about what makes Europe what it is as compared to other regions around the world. I think in a way, that genes also unite Europe. I beleive it is hard to find a European country nowadays that doesn't have any gene infusion from another nationality from all the interaction we have had the past centuries. A clear example is the Balkans where nationalities have merged and split, united and separated, so there is certainly some gene residue in every country there from a foreign ethnicity. Also, more recently, before the fall of the Berlin wall, Western Europe was united together, and Eastern Europe was united together( well more or less), each under their own ideology. The point is that, if one is to travel throughout Eastern Europe, he/she will notice particular traits that are similar and present in each country. Now with East merging with West, I guess that a new identity could be formed, or maybe one will be assimilated into the other, while still maintaining some of its old characteristics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nekosasori
    @bossel:

    Maciamo's sentence quoted fully was the following (italics added by me for emphasis):
    Sorry, I missed that one.



    on the dole
    Nice to learn something new here. Didn't know that expression before. Thanks!


    Regarding the welfare system & its problems, I agree with you. I don't know the particular Irish situation, but abuse happens everywhere. That's human. It is strange though, when some people are paid in order not to look for a job. Hmm...

    Here in Germany the dole is usually higher than social welfare & you really can make a decent living on it. Social welfare is generally lower, but since you don't have to pay for some essential stuff (e.g. washing machine) yourself, it should be enough as well.

    Abuse is also common, sometimes it even hits the news. As in the case of "Florida-Rolf", who spent his life in Florida from 1900 € per month (exorbitant high amount of money, IMO, when I was younger my family lived from social welfare, with the 4 of us we didn't get half of that).

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    If you disagree, why don't you try to disprove Maciamo's points? Getting personal is not really the way to show that he's wrong. More to the contrary.
    Opinion can't be disproved.

    Matthew, you visibly didn't understand the purpose of this thread. I never intended to praise or criticise one country or another.
    Further, Europeans tend to be more intellectual, dare I say any other people in the world.

    really care about money and "easy entertainment" (TV, movies, celebrities, sex, sports...).

    There is certainly a similarity between European diets, as Europeans are rarely fat, and when they are, almost never the way Americans can get.
    You're right, that isn't criticism, those are outright insults. If you want to take the high ground and have a discussion, perhaps you should try to tone down the holier-than-thou attitude you've displayed here.

    You may be right, you may be wrong, but you aren't going to win any friends by insulting entire countries, and telling us that we are all just stereotypes to you.

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    This is really an interesting thread, would be nice to have more none Europeans joining the discussion though.

    Well, I must say I cannot agree with all observations made by Maciamo.

    History: While it is true that most Europeans share a deeper interest in history (thank you Rachel, really interesting) they often tend to idealise the history of their own country (“Greeks invented democracy!”, the Brits modern Literature, the Germans classical music and the like). It seems that they forget how interrelated their history really is. So, even though there is a shared history, Europeans do not always share this feeling of being European. That might be different among ERASMUS Students, but ask some villagers in Sweden and Greece about their common features…

    Cuisine: I really don`t think that European Cuisine is that similar. If you go to a “Italian Style” pasta place in London, you`ll get to find londonized Italian dishes. Same goes for Chicken Tika and so on. Having spend much time Greece and in England, I think there are actually huge differences in the food culture. I’d say it depends more on the class of restaurant you’re dining in. Of course you can find top cuisine in every major city, but the local food is completely different; and that’s what still most of the people eat.

    Fat People: Well, as I’ve heard nearly 70 % of European are overweight, having 10% of them being obese. If I look to Britain, Germany and France that is definitely the case. Only in the Mediterranean countries people seem to be slimmer.

    Clothing: Have you never seen German, Dutch, Swedish and British tourists in Spain or Greece? They might not dress as silly as the common American (Socks and Flip-Flops). But I have seen so many of them being rejected to enter a Greek restaurant because wearing Bermuda shorts. And those tank tops…..

    I think at the very end, there is not much difference between Americans, Europeans and Australians as long as (and THIS is the crucial point), their educational and social background is similar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BeNippon
    Fat People: Well, as I’ve heard nearly 70 % of European are overweight, having 10% of them being obese. If I look to Britain, Germany and France that is definitely the case. Only in the Mediterranean countries people seem to be slimmer.
    That may depend where you live. Personally, I'd say that where I grew up only 5 to 10% of the people under 50 were overweight, and about 1% really obese. I found there were more people over 50 pverweight, but that is for biological reasons (less energy, so less activity => take up weight).

    I think there are more overweight people in Germany, but rather stocky and massive (like Helmut Kohl) rather than really fat. When I was studying in Berlin, I noticed there were indeed more overweight people, but still no comparison to Americans (or even Australians).

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    Well, here's a non-European weighing in on the subject. I agree with everything Maciamo has posted on this subject.

    Education:

    Education in America is sorely lacking compared with that of European countries. When I was in high school, I remember discussing the differences in education with some of our exchange students from Belgium, France, and Norway, especially with respect to learning foreign languages. In America, a foreign language is taught maybe 2-4 years, while in European countries English alone was taught for 8-12 years. In fact, some of the European exchange students understood the English language better than most of us Americans! Years later I learned that the same was true for students in Hong Kong--they studied English for 12 years. Yet America continues to place little emphasis on learning a foreign language. Pretty arrogant, if you ask me.

    Sadly, half of this country is now functionally illiterate, meaning they can read simple things but nothing complicated. That's pretty bad! Our public schools are lacking in financial assistance, but if you want to send your child to some religious private school, then our government will help you out with a school voucher. Some private schools are very good. I was educated through mostly private education, so my education was much better than those who attended public schools. (Obviously, this can depend on the individual school in either case.) But not all private schools are good, especially when the students are force-fed religious dogma at the same time. Many parents feel that public education is not up to par, yet they don't want to send their kids to the local nutbar fundamentalist school either, so they choose to home school their children instead.

    Higher education in America is also extremely expensive these days. It now costs approximately $80,000 per year to attend Stanford University here in California, and I don't even want to think of what it costs to attend Harvard or Yale. Most people are stuck paying off student loans for what seems like forever, especially if they happen to go on to graduate school, law school, or med school. It's insane. Meanwhile, there is less and less public assistance for education.

    Dietary Habits:

    America is full of obese people, and the percentage of obesity is far greater here than in any European country. I found this study especially interesting with respect to this issue:

    The French Diet:

    http://my.webmd.com/content/pages/10/1671_51408.htm

    In my opinion, there are big differences between Americans and Europeans, and I have always favored the European lifestyle and intellectualism over that of Americans, not to mention the wonderful rich culture, history, and cuisine of Europe compared to America.

    Just my two cents as an American ...
    Last edited by Satori; 22-09-04 at 16:14.

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