On How Others See Americans

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Listening to Brits discuss the electoral process in the U.S. has been grating. It’s one thing for Americans to disparage one candidate or another it’s another thing for people who don’t know what  they are talking about to do it.

I find it offensive when people say, “Oh, you’re black so you must be voting for Obama, right.” What!?! I am not capable of making decisions by using my God-given intellect?
Like I said, O-Fen-sive.

Furthermore people’s insight into what the American people “should” find important is grating. absolutely grating. I like how people make projections about whose political career is over and whose is budding and who can never come back.

Sometimes I just want to scream, What! What do you know about America or American culture?

I am reminded of an advert for a British (apparently) comedy show where these two kids knock on a man’s door and say “trick or treat.” The man then replies, ” Get of my doorstep, we’re not American” or something like that.

and so the kids reply “Well, we want to experience and appreciate American culture”
and then the man says “Ok, Get of my doorstep or I’ll shoot you.”

Wow. especially considering the fact that violence is alive and well here in the U.K. Maybe I shouldn’t be offended but I am so sick and tired of people who have never even been to the states telling my how Americans are or are not.
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And it’s not just random people, if I hear another professor or staff member involved in running my study abroad program (i.e. someone who you would hope had some freaking knowledge of the American education system) program say “Oh, the education system here is so much more different than the U.S. isn’t it?”

or “I suppose you guys in America aren’t expected to write papers as long as 3,000 words are you? (this was said to a group of people from some of the best schools in the U.S.- How can someone really believe we don’t write 8-10 pg papers!). What?

What is mot bothersome is that they don’t even give us the benefit of the doubt. The U.K. system must be better, because England is England (once t-again what?)

Meanwhile, professors and the writing department give out guidelines for paper writing saying things like ” you need a clearly defined thesis when you write a paper” (one last time, what?)

Maybe I’m wrong/hypersensitive
But I am disgusted by the hubris, the underlying assumption that Americans somehow don’t have it together.

Yes, it’s true that the k-12 education systems don’t have it together (everywhere— mind you neither does Britain)

Our college and university systems continue to churn out some seriously brilliant minds. You can find Americans as leaders in most any field. Meanwhile, I can’t help but feel like rolling my eyes at the pointless discussions we have in class, It just seems that the students here aren’t saying anything new, nor does it occur to them to do so.

Last time I checked, discussions were about bringing up your own ideas/impressions, not regurgitating what the professor said or going so ridiculously off topic or bringing up some point that is basically what the professor said only wee bit more nuanced. Boo all that!

I’m not saying this is the case at all schools in the U.S. but I think that students are encouraged to think out of the box in the U.S. moreso than they are here. I know that I and most of friends at a variety of colleges know that papers must have thesis, don’t flinch at 8-10 pg papers, can develop and argue an ORIGINAL point etc.

I’m not saying that students here are not able to do this, I’m saying that I have yet to see it.
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It’s just frustrating because in college we (well at least I) give the international students the benefit of the doubt. Instead of ASSUMING that we know about their background/culture/education system, we ask. Further more, there is this appeal of British accents that have a lot of people thinking that sounding like Hugh Grant or Colin Firth automatically denotes intelligence.

Whereas here, it’s like, oh you poor American, you don’t understand a thing! Give me a break!

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