Travel

The Biggest Misconceptions Europeans Have About Americans

Published On 09/30/2015 Published On 09/30/2015

What separates Europe and America isn’t an ocean and colonial history; it’s actually a cumbersome, modern-day load of cultural misconceptions. America’s got plenty of (admittedly stereotypical) impressions about the countries of its long and distant relative, so it’s only natural for Europeans to also have a few of their own.

And since I live in Germany, I thought it'd be fun to ask my European friends from across the continent what they thought of the United States -- and then try to respectfully disabuse them of their erroneous notions.

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Americans don’t learn geography 

Americans may suck at geography, but it’s not their fault -- they don’t study it. Well, sort of. It’s true most U.S. schools don’t offer a specific geography class, but maps and borders are wrapped into a subject called social studies along with history, economics, political science, and anthropology. Could geography be getting lost in the mix? Don’t worry America; Europeans still don’t blame you (that much) for badly labeling their continent.
 

Americans don’t appreciate football… 

Come on, they love football (sorry, soccer). The game may not command the same cultural importance as in Europe, but according to the BBC, America is the number one country in the world for youth participation in football (soccer). “Major League Soccer matches now have a higher average attendance than basketball and ice hockey (and) the game ranks third after American football and baseball.” Plus, we can all get behind prosecuting those lousy FIFA officials.

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… or nudism 

So Americans may not be as keen on hanging loose in the sauna as Europeans, but the nation’s still not as traditionally prudish as it used to be either. I mean, just look at Miley Cyrus. The U.S. also has its own fair share of awesome nudie beaches.
 

They don’t know good electronic music 

America may have made EDM popular, but Europe is just as much to blame for producing Hardwell and David Guetta. Lest we forget how much America’s done for the evolution of dance music: Studio 54, Frankie Knuckles and Detroit, the birthplace of techno. Seriously, even President Obama’s a househead. Nothing can make up for the turntable horrors of Paris Hilton and Pauly D, but that comes pretty close.

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Americans aren’t interested in foreign languages 

Europeans are required to learn a few tongues in school, and they’re even spoiled by being able to practice in nearby countries. Americans tend to get a bad rap for only speaking English, but the truth is the education system and its “budget cuts, low enrollments, and teacher shortages” are, as The Atlantic puts it, at fault. And it’s not entirely true that Americans are unilingual, either -- one in four can hold a conversation in a second language, while one in five speak primarily another language at home.
 

They have just a few dialects 

Germany, Italy, and Spain aren’t the only countries with heaps of different accents and regional-specific vocab: Long Island University reckons that the U.S. is home to around 24(!!) dialects, each distinctly different depending on whether you grew up in Alabama, Minnesota, or somewhere in between. Sadly, valley girl is also not one of them.

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They’ve got beef with Canada 

Sure, Americans like to poke fun at Canadian accents (eh?), and nobody was really happy they exported Justin Bieber across the border, but a real-life, East Coast-West Coast rap beef? Nah. Americans realize (and appreciate) how closely both countries are intertwined culturally and politically, and tourism from the US to Canada hit a seven-year high this past summer. You see? Cozy.
 

They never want to live anywhere else 

Come on, Americans are just as full of wanderlust as Europeans. According to recent data from Transferwise, about a third of Americans and half of all the country’s millennials would love to pack up and live abroad. And the number one reason why? People said it would be to seek a better quality of life or higher salary than they could find at home.

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Barbara Woolsey is a Berlin-based writer who finds it ungodly that a box of Pop-Tarts costs €6 in her local supermarket. Follow her European adventures on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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