Originally Posted by eAi
I would expect that that vast majority of people in the uk have been to another country. Our countries are a lot smaller, of course. I found one figure in a quick google that says that 90% of British citizens have a passport (compared to 25% of US citizens)..
I have been to the UK for extended periods three times in different years. Among the international cities where I have been, London would be one of the cities where I can feel at home.
As to visa, that is one good criteria, but it depends where they are going. If I hazard to guess, it is mostly in nearby countries, perhaps the more affluent and adventurous come to the US and all other countries.
One built in advantage of the US, compared to some of the countries I have been to in Europe, the US is more polyethnic, especially in major metropolitan areas everywhere. Californaia, and a few of the states also are becoming more polyethnic. College towns are similarly becoming more polyethnic. And, if you are a student, even more so in many of the large universities.
Boston is a very good example. The beauty is that you can interact with many cultures on a daily basis, at work, during meals and recreations, conferences, etc. With an open mind, one can really learn about peoples and their cultures from such extensive and constant interactions***. [Better than the glimpse or insight you get from a week or so of travel.]
The US is almost as large as continental Europe. Because of its diversity, going from one region to another exposes you to very diverse cultures, literary. This is mainly because the US remains a country of immigrants. Even regions that are mostly White have their own distinct flavors, and that is partly because of the migrants have not been dispersed randomly.
Originally Posted by penchanted
It's true that stereotypes exist just about everywhere but Americans, due a great deal to geography, have simply not travelled abroad much. They have not had the opportunity to meet people substantially different from themselves both culturally and in terms of their history and language. IMO, these makes it very difficult for them to understand a lot of what is happening in other parts of the world and their typical assumption is that most people should aspire to be like Americans since we have enjoyed such success.
Did you get a chance to travel and live for extended periods to different parts of the US? I have been to California, numerous times in California, over the years. But, last year, I had a chance to go there and live (interacted) with Californians and I gained quite more about life in California compared to what I learned during my short visits there. That is also true with my visits to New York. a city that we visited quite enough when we were students. A German friend of mine (who loves New York) invited me to stay with him for an extended weekend; and I got a glimpse of New York that was quite different from all my other short visits. I feel more at home in Boston though, compared to other cities I have been, because it may be a city, but it still has that small town feeling with many multi-ethnic enclaves (not only of other nationalities but also White Americans).
The points presented above apply. This is coming from someone like myself who came from another country. I have been well read when I was at home, and I thought I knew a lot about the world, or even the US with all the good and bad. But, coming here first as student, it was quite an awakening.
On the whole, what I found is that most of the Americans I have interacted are decent, whatever walk of life, they came from. I have even interacted with what are called "Rednecks" and some really "conservative" people. If you look beyond what many would disparage as their stereotypical characterization, on the whole they have their own good side -- especially once you get to know them, and they get to interact with you.
My main concern in the polarization and intense extremism, especially in politics and morality; but I am not sure if such situations do not exists in other countries. It may be more intense in the US because of the diversities in cultures.
***Of course, interactions in university and research/tech towns would be biased by the fact that many foreigners able to go to elite schools the US may not be representative (the average) of their own cultures -- they are either the "exceptional" intellectually or econimically. At the same time, in places like Boston, one can actually meet peoples from all over the world coming from different walks of life.