How have your study abroad and college experiences changed the way you look at the United States? It has often been said that other people love Americans, even thought they might hate our government or policies. Are there ways we can address this conflict in perceptions?
When I was in Italy, I was surprised at the view Italians held of Americans. Before going abroad you hear about stories of how Europeans hate Americans. They hate their policies and politics. I found that more traditional Italian people were quickly judgmental on who I was before getting to know me, but the younger Italians or other citizens who were not Italian where more willing to get to know me.
When people found out that I was American they either became distant or got excited and wanted to know about my life. The most common questions I received were: where are you from, how old are you, and are you married. Italian men were the most curious and asked the most questions. They commonly stated that they already knew so much about American and would quote an American movie or songs.
The first few days I was there I realized that I was always in a hurry, rushing from here to there not really paying attention to anything around me. When I got home from class, I would stay in my apartment and do homework or watch movies on my computer until my roommates got home before we went anywhere. I realized that this is a flaw of being American. After living in Florence for about a week, I decided this place was too beautiful and unknown to be sitting inside. I would take the long way home from class, do homework outside in the piazza or just go for a walk.
Americans have busy lives; they are too busy to enjoy their surroundings, too busy to wait in line, and too busy working. There is so much beauty in the world and we need to take our time and appreciate it. We would rather stay inside on the couch and watch TV than go for a walk or sit outside.
Other countries hate our politics more than the people and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that America is a super power, the largest power in the world. Other countries can be intimidated by us and that causes the US to have a large “ego.” The way we do business is not always seen as the best from other countries. Our main purpose is to how to be more profitable and other countries have different views of what is most important.
I think the only way to change this perception is to increase the global competency of our CEO’s and business heads. By knowing about other countries culture and policies, it shows that we are more understanding and willing to work with them. By doing this we can help start the changes that are needed.