In honor of this day of BBQs, beer, fireworks and patriotism I asked some of the friends that I met on my travels to give their unedited impression, opinion and/or experience of the United States, whether positive or negative.
Happy 4th of July!
Greetings from Sweden!
In Sweden the general view of America is a bit mixed. We are impressed, envious, a little scared and mostly interested in all things American. We love the TV-shows, we want the stuff and we want to be able to say that we’ve been there.
In Sweden we have no real reason to celebrate our own national holiday, (I think some people may not even know when it is and NO ONE knows why it is on the 6th of June (some king did something I guess…)), we haven’t been in a war for over 200 years and even though that should be a reason to celebrate in and of itself, we just don’t do it. In a way I think the 4th of July is more special here than the 6th of June, it’s on our news and we interview the American ambassador on prime time TV. And the star spangled banner is a greater symbol than our own blue and yellow colors.
When our prime minister met with the president two years ago, there were dozens of articles written by people who wished they had been in his shoes shaking hands with the most famous man in the world. Barack Obama is more popular in Sweden than any other president has been since Kennedy. The impact it has had on the world, to have a black president, well, it sort of sums up what I think is the gist of America: the land of opportunity, where anyone can be successful if they’re willing to work for it. I choose, especially on a day like today to see only those good things, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Happy 4th of July!
Linda Lindberg, Stockholm/Sweden, met at a London pub, at a pub, but we were staying at the same hostel around the corner.
Well, i’ve never been anywhere else but Hungary and a small Croatian town (namely Beli Manastir) twice, so all i know about other places are based on second-hand info or on movies, PC games, etc.
My opinion about the USA is complex because of its size and what I hear, and think that West and East coasts both have more European, liberal leftist etc., influence, where people are more “Europer” by mentality (eg. no guns, no religion, no conservative views about things, and things like these… especially cause here in the EU (European Union) members can not have death penalty, it’s one of the basic directives required to become a member state.
One of the few things that we learn about the US at history class, is about the independence war in 1775/76 and the US. Constitution, which were revolutionary back then alongside with the 1790 French one, and the Civil War, where many Europeans, even Hungarians fought on side of the North… those soldiers of Germans, French, Austrians, Hungarians, etc. who had revolutions in 1848, deserted after they lost their national revolution, escaped to the USA, and joined the North when Civil War begun in 1861, and also, we were learning about that the USA bought Alaska from the Russian Tzar.
I think I can’t survive in the USA more than 2 days, I bet since there people run around with guns and the public transport isn’t as developed as in Europe… here, bycycle and walking are common if you only go to the nearby retail store, for let’s say… to buy some soft drink, or beer, wine, cigarettes, etc. Here, in Europe a car isn’t a must, but something which helps your life and cause many troubles by the fund… here, cars have “prestige” in ways, i mean, driving a cheap East European car, or an old wreck is acceptable, makes the driver to have a bad reputation from others…
The only places I think I could get used to after a while are San Francisco and New York, they are soooo Europeanized, and there people tolerate leftists, gays, migrants, idiots, alcoholists, even druggies.
Peter Kaba, Hungary, met on the train from Croatia to Hungary.
As an Australian, I guess our view of the US is mainly as an ally and a friend. Australians have fought side by side with Americans for nearly a century in many wars, and share similar ideals and values about democracy, freedom and a safe and peaceful world for all. Australians have also found themselves inspired by the achievements of many Americans, sending the first man to the moon being a fine example. In recent years however, I have found in my own country and many others, an anti-American sentiment that is gaining momentum. In part, I feel that this has originated from decisions made by past administrations, especially those of George W. Bush ie. sending American soldiers to a pointless war for what the vast majority of the world saw as a money-hungry grab for oil). Added to this, there is a feeling from some in Australia that the US has interfered for far too long in the affairs of other countries and has wrongly attempted to stamp it’s brand of America on to the cultures of other nations. It is decisions like these that have tainted the US’s reputation around the world in recent years. Always important to remember however, is that without the US taking the lead in many conflicts, battles and negotiations, the world in the 21st century would likely be in a worse state. It would be upsetting if Australia was to ever loosen these strong ties to the US in the future.
Jake Fenton, Austrailia, met at Aborignial Hostel, Budapest
As an Quebeker (French Canadian) I share the same point of view than Jake. I think that we find in the US the Best and the worst. I was really happy to see Obama as president but when I see how the people reacted about the free health care system that Obama try to instaure In the US I’m afraid about the extreme reaction that a lot of “american” Us citizen have! I’ve seen nazi symbol with Obama and stuff like that. An another thing that I fear the most is the rising of extreme right ( religious things, nazi thing, racist thing scientologist ?! ) I think that we have to be aware about it, and the white power mouvement and others getting bigger. So I hope that US will find a way to be good stop the war things, be nice with cuba also…. And think about future ! The future is Green! ( sorry I wrote with my iPhone and I Have So much to say ! ) Have a great 4th of July!
Fred, Quebec, met at the Aboriginal Hostel, Budapest
Hello all,My name is Tamim. I’m half English and half Saudi Arabian and have lived in England since the age of 8 (24 years).
My only visit to the U.S was to Orlando for the Disney attractions and shopping.
I was asked for I.D at an off license (liqueur store) a second time by the same clerk after having had a long and fun conversation and with him only the day before when I showed him I.D for my purchase. I didn’t have it the second time as I figured the clerk knows me now so I won’t be needing it. He told me that even though he knew me and that he’d seen my I.D the law required him to see it each time. Is this true? If so it’s a silly law!
I met some red-necks by the pool one evening at the Vistana resort we were staying at. That was fun!!! Wow, they really are as backward as they are made out to be on the TV huh? They were nice enough but pretty dumb. Couldn’t work me and my Saudi cousin out for love nor money but we all got on well and had fun.
I drove whilst over there which was a painless experience. Got beeped at for not turning right when I could a few times. I eventually worked out that you can ignore certain red lights in the states huh? Not in the U.K!
Did lots of shopping (with my Saudi stepmother… THEY LIKE TO SHOP). Wow those malls are big! Also I experienced a hospital visit where I was impressed by the level of service and treatment. Way better than the crappy NHS (National Health Service)!!!
The theme parks were amazing I had a really good time (probably more than my kid brother and sisters).
One time, at a theme park it started to rain really heavily while it was sill very hot. We don’t really get hot or heavy rain like that in the UK. We took shelter under a canopy and waited around like idiots for a while getting bored before I decided to go out and enjoy it. I figured its not going to kill us. I went out from under the canopy and embraced the heavy hot rain. The kids soon followed and we ended up dancing around having a lot of fun.
I can remember being overwhelmed by the large choice of food that was on offer everywhere and the huge portion sizes. I couldn’t claim to have seen or learned too much about American culture while I was there. I do however watch plenty of American TV + film (which is great by the way) and have a healthy interest in global; human rights, anthropology and politics.
Saudi is very Americanized in many ways. The roads are American style, there are American fast food and normal restaurants, American cars, American coffee shops, American TV, the education system is American (amongst others) and worst of all… The English language that is spoken.. IS AMERICAN!!! This annoys me A LOT as when I’m there and spending time with my cousins etc (when we’re speaking in English due my Arabic not being 100 % and most of their English being perfect) they often make comments and tell me I SPEAK FUNNY??? I regularly have to remind them that I live in the country that gave the U.S its language (amongst many other things) and that English-English… Well… English-English is……. Ummmmm…… It’s just bloody better, OK? (he he)
I don’t think the world hated the states as much before G.W.Bush was ‘elected’, as it does now but I’m afraid to say that, for a substantial percentage of ‘the world’, it’s certainly not the most popular place on earth right now! I think this is largely due to the massive manipulation of the Geneva Convention, the ideals of democracy, international law and international human rights law, leading the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and its massive support to the awful government of Israel are three things I personally find all very disturbing and makes me very angry.
The people: I think the average British person finds the stereotypical American quite loud and over opinionated but I guess the fact that the British are quite reserved and over polite might have something to do with it!
Happy independence day my American brothers and sisters! Well done for kicking our English butts 330 ish years ago.
I look forward to seeing your country again and experiencing your culture properly some day.
Tamim Bakhsh, Britian, met at Hostel Janson in Amsterdam.