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Old 06-12-2009, 10:36 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,084 posts, read 34,148,649 times
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Over the years in dealing with exchange students from Europe and Japan, the one thing that seems all of them comment on, is the size and scale of the Country. It is hard for them to think you can drive for DAYS and still be in the same Country.
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
1,305 posts, read 3,092,008 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tahiti View Post
i am American so not a "foreigner" in this context, but I've always been amazed there are no obese people in Europe. We made a point of meandering over to an obese person to hear them speak, and it was always "American" English. I suspect, from this, the opposite is true for Europeans coming to the US.
This is simply not true. There are plenty of fat, obese and morbidly obese people in Europe. You must not have spent any significant amount of time there, and you must have only been places where only tourists travel to. You must have missed all the locals, not just the fat ones. If we can turn the original question around for a second, what shocked me most about the places I've traveled is the fact people are for the most part the same, no matter where you are, despite the stereotypes to the contrary.
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
1,572 posts, read 2,530,172 times
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After living abroad in Europe for several years, these are the things that shocked me on return (note: these were more extreme for me because I came back to Texas)

- So many morbidly obese people
- You need a car to get around
- Food portions are gigantic and foods are saltier, sweeter, and more fake tasting than many European restaurant and store bought goods
- Cell phones suddenly got extremely popular (texting)
- Roads aren't well maintained
- People actually enjoy living in the suburbs (I used to be a suburb lover, but after living in Europe, my views were changed)
- There aren't any magazine/news stands around (only in NY, Chicago and other bigger cities)
- Massive interchanges
- More car accidents (because most people use public transportation in Europe when not going on vacation)
- Mega churches
- Ugly suburban architecture
- Even 20 year old memorabilia is considered an antique and cherished. Europeans think it's trash. They have thousands of years of history and artifacts
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:05 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
3,073 posts, read 5,447,005 times
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In regards to our "geographic ignorance":

We live in a huge country with only two bordering nations. There are few places, if any, in the World where it is less essential to daily life to be well-versed in world geography. We have everything we need here, and we have to travel thousands of miles to be anywhere other than the U.S., Canada or Mexico. I don't think it stems from Americans being "stupid" or "ignorant".

I like to compare it to growing up in a small town outside of a large city. In our small town, everyone knew where all of the small towns were, but also had a pretty good understanding of the city because we had to go there a lot.

The city residents obviously knew the city pretty well, but a lot of them were completely ignorant about the surrounding rural areas. It was amazing to me that I could tell someone where I grew up (it was 20 minutes away) and they would say "never heard of it." How in the hell??? There wasn't a town in the area that I'd never heard of!!

They didn't need to know. That's why they didn't know.

If "Joe Redneck" could travel by car or train to New Zealand, he would be more likely to know where it is.
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:06 PM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
5,008 posts, read 10,789,347 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasTheKid View Post
This is simply not true. There are plenty of fat, obese and morbidly obese people in Europe. You must not have spent any significant amount of time there, and you must have only been places where only tourists travel to. You must have missed all the locals, not just the fat ones. If we can turn the original question around for a second, what shocked me most about the places I've traveled is the fact people are for the most part the same, no matter where you are, despite the stereotypes to the contrary.
While it is true that there are obese people in Europe, Americans really "take the cake." The definition of obese or overweight in the USA would be the same as obese and morbidly obese in Europe.

To put it in perspective, an overweight female friend of mine and her boyfriend with to Italy and in some of the local towns she said she seemed skinny but in other areas she was very conscious of her weight. Most of the time it was the latter. When they took a detour to France, she ALWAYS felt fat.

In all, Americans have more sugary, sweet, salty, and processed foods than Europe, and Americans, in general, do not work out and overeat. To top it all off, Americans work loads more hours and are more stressed out than their European counterparts, so much so it leads to MORE eating (it's a natural human response to consume calories to sustain a stress level).

It's a health nightmare in the USA.

Last edited by eskercurve; 06-12-2009 at 12:14 PM..
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:09 PM
 
26,589 posts, read 52,257,058 times
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There are plenty of heavy older women in Europe... they just don't get out much...

Friends have mentioned to me that over weight American Women really stand-out in Europe because they wear pants suits and make-up...

I guess over weight European Women don't wear pant suits and make up
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:33 PM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
13,856 posts, read 22,955,873 times
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America is more obese than most nations, but there are European nations in the ballpark. Or that are at least similar to some US states.

Obesity statistics - countries compared - NationMaster
Obesity Rate by state. Definition, graph and map.

Britain, Slovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, and Hungary are at least similar to New England rates of obesity. I've heard people say that they saw a fair number of native-born fat people in the Benelux region.

On the geography thing I understand that Americans have less need to know other countries because we're large and only border two nations. However Americans generally lag behind Australians and Canadians too. Australia doesn't border anyone and is roughly as large as the Continental US. Granted the population in those nations is a bit more concentrated in urban areas I think, but I'm not sure if our urbanites are really much better than average. (At the Geography Bee many to most kids were small towners)
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Houston
441 posts, read 1,182,596 times
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Biggest cultural shocks from European guy(35 years) perspective:

- Car-centric approach, sometimes you need a car even to cross the street :/

- Opposite city "logic", nice areas are suburbs and crime-infested areas are in the downtown. It's exactly opposite in Europe. Maybe only NY come close.

Following applies if you came from non-english speaking countries:

- Spoken language in every situation is like 5 volume levels higher. What is considered very loud and rude speech in France or Austria is considered normal communication tone.

- People always ask me, why you are so sad... are you okay... when I say "I am doing good, how are you?".
I learned, that you have to express double of triple emotional and facial mimic to get your message through. I am doing GOOOOD must be said in such way that would give you some smirks and O_o style looks in Europe.

But you get used to it and when you are returning home after long time, then Europe will look "weird" to you.
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Old 06-12-2009, 01:13 PM
 
Location: Houston, TX
1,305 posts, read 3,092,008 times
Reputation: 1180
Quote:
Originally Posted by eskercurve View Post
While it is true that there are obese people in Europe, Americans really "take the cake." The definition of obese or overweight in the USA would be the same as obese and morbidly obese in Europe.

To put it in perspective, an overweight female friend of mine and her boyfriend with to Italy and in some of the local towns she said she seemed skinny but in other areas she was very conscious of her weight. Most of the time it was the latter. When they took a detour to France, she ALWAYS felt fat.

In all, Americans have more sugary, sweet, salty, and processed foods than Europe, and Americans, in general, do not work out and overeat. To top it all off, Americans work loads more hours and are more stressed out than their European counterparts, so much so it leads to MORE eating (it's a natural human response to consume calories to sustain a stress level).

It's a health nightmare in the USA.
I never suggested obesity isn't a bigger (so to speak) problem in the states than it is in Europe, but really, when it's 1 in 4 versus 1 in 6, the ratios really aren't that much different. Developed nations, with the exceptions of a few Nordic and Asian countries, are full of fatties exposed to processed, salty and excessively sweet "fake" tasting foods. It's the fruit of progress. And for the record, I rejected the claim that there were "no obese people in Europe," not that America wasn't the tubby capitol of the world. In a lot of countries, fat is the yardstick used to measure a person's success, so of course we've got the most. We're the wealthiest country in the world, it just stands to reason we're going to have the most lard bottoms.
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Old 06-12-2009, 01:19 PM
 
12,825 posts, read 20,129,272 times
Reputation: 10910
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultrarunner View Post
There are plenty of heavy older women in Europe... they just don't get out much...

Friends have mentioned to me that over weight American Women really stand-out in Europe because they wear pants suits and make-up...

I guess over weight European Women don't wear pant suits and make up
Overweight Americans in Europe wear like shorts and tank tops, letting it all hang out, just like back in the good old US of A. Of course, this also points out that Euros have their own forms of prejudice based on body type, whereas in the US I believe we are more accepting in general. In Europe, the fat hide, and wear clothing meant to deemphasize it, even if sweating profusely.
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