Today I stumbled upon a blog that I should have found a long time ago. Then again, one can only read so much in a lifetime.
“Living the American Dream in Europe” is written by a lady from Portland, OR who has been living in Germany for the past few years. She appears to be experiencing the same transatlantic cultural gap that I’ve been trying to navigate for half of my life – she just entered the bridge from the opposite direction.
Here she takes a stab at cross-cultural perception and how we make assumptions about other cultures. As you can see, this the first of four parts on this topic. I’m only re-blogging part 1 to encourage you to visit her site to continue reading.

living the american dream in europe

Was Amerikanern an Deutschen auffällt,  oder Fünfzig Wege die Amerikaner gewinnen den Deutschen Aufmerksamkeit (50 ways the Americans attract Germans attention…they could only come up with 50!?)

(This content was originally published in Die Zeit, 42/2002, in German, but was recently translated by a native English-speaking friend of mine who has spoken German for 20 years. What is unfortunate is that before this section of the article is a section of what Germans think of Americans…my German will just have to get better in order to talk about that part…will blog when I am able to translate it, or can find a friend to help.)
The first ten…

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2 thoughts on “

  1. Great article. Great blog. I also really enjoy reading/talking about intercultural issues.

    Great blog, I really enjoy this type of analysis of intercultural issues.

    A couple of these really resonated with me so I figured I’d comment.

    Der Glaube, man sei für alles, was einem widerfährt, selbst verantwortlich (woraus sich sehr viel Stress ergibt).
    Usually it is the ones who have had it the easiest that like to believe this. Even worse, they make a political philosophy out of it.

    Sie halten Schauspieler für absolut kompetent in allen Lebensfragen (siehe Talkshows).
    -I think a lot of people don’t really think this way, it is just that the Hollywood PR machine sees to it that the big stars are always getting their publicity. But yes, it is annoying how movie and TV stars are everywhere in media, putting their two cents in on issues where they have no relevant education or expertise.

    Sie sind gnadenlos patriotisch (und können das Gegenteil bei anderen nicht verstehen). You could say that about most peoples of the world. It is the Germans who are weird in this respect.

    Kindliche Begeisterungsfähigkeit bis ins hohe Alter.
    This is something I find really hard to accept about Germans: their idea that showing enthusiasm is somehow “unseriös “. Enthusiasm is a beautiful character trait.

    Der Fernseher wird beim Nachhausekommen eingeschaltet wie eine Lampe.
    My family do this all the time, they just like having the background noise. I tell them they should freaking read for a change.
    \
    Amerikaner interessieren sich nicht annähernd so für uns Deutsche, wie wir uns für sie interessieren.
    Yeah, Germans shouldn’t expend so much effort criticizing us. Our attention is focused on the rest of the Anglophone world as well as the other big boys on the block, i.e. China.

    Sicherheitsdenken, bloß kein Risiko eingehen.
    This is why I cannot see myself going back to live in Germany long-term, stability just feels like stagnation to me. I would not mind working with Germans in China though, because there I think I could help them cope with all the chaos that they fear so greatly.

    Deutsche halten ihre abrupte Art für Ehrlichkeit, aber die wirkt auf Amerikaner furchtbar aggressiv.
    I think many people feel this way about Germans, not just the Americans. Pretty much all Asians would find this far more disturbing than we would. I spent a lot of time in the NYC area growing up, so at least I am already familiar with this type of abruptness from my own culture.

    Tödliches Schweigen in den U- und S-Bahnen.
    As an American I interpret this almost as a type of joylessness, or sadness. After I left Germany and moved to Beijing I always felt much more at home among the loud and jovial Chinese, despite the initially far greater cultural and linguistic misunderstandings.

    Allein die Entscheidung zwischen du und Sie lässt jede Spontaneität erlahmen.
    I always feel a sense of relief when a German says “Du” to me because he senses how uncomfortable I am with the “Sie” form.

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