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Old 07-05-2010, 11:28 AM
 
28,292 posts, read 39,979,602 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by queensgrl View Post
Why is it that so many Americans don't travel abroad while so many foreigners take holidays to the US? I've longed to travel for years but I'm single and the prospect of going alone is scary, especially since I'm limited in foreign languages (I read, write and speak some Spanish). However I am making plans to study abroad later this year if all goes well.

There's something very insular about Americans that I can't quite pinpoint. It's woven into the design of our suburban communities, where every town has strip malls with the same stores, we aspire to wear the same clothing, drive similar cars and live in subdivisions with four styles of houses. This sameness is also creeping into major cities once known for their uniqueness.

It's like wherever we go, we have to see the things we have back home. It feels like the 1950s all over again (from what I've read, anyway -- I was not born yet). It's like an artificial existence of sorts.

We stay in our backyards and grill food, go on cruises (semi-foreign travel) or we travel to Vegas and Disney World, but we won't visit the real world.

What gives?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
This thread is not about the value of being bilingual. It is about the American's unwillingness to travel because they fear the inconvenience or embarassment of a language barrier. Why don't Americans travel? One reason is that they feel excessively uncomfortable in a place where they might not be understood. Europeans have gotten over that timidity, and it doesn't get in the way of their adventure plans.

It is true that English is the language of travel. (Except in Latin America and former French Africa). But Europeans don't care, they buck up and deal with the language problem and still enjoy their vacation. The Korean speaks English in Thailand a lot worst than the guy from Buffalo, but he doesn't let that get in the way of enjoying travel, and doesn't make him afraid to go.

There is another interesting aspect to what you say that is easily overlooked. When the Korean is renting a moped in Egypt, they are both using a form of English with the same 100-word vocabulary, so it is easy for them to understand each other. Sentences are simple SVO, spoken slowly, all verbs in present tense. Americans have difficulty learning to think in that pidgin language, because the complexities and nuances and idioms of the language flow too easily.
Really? Did you bother to read the OP or did you just skim and assume.....
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
The Korean speaks English in Thailand a lot worst than the guy from Buffalo, but he doesn't let that get in the way of enjoying travel, and doesn't make him afraid to go.
More unprovable generalities, you always paint with the broadest brush available. There are Koreans who don't like to travel and attempt other languages, and Americans who do.

Quote:
Americans have difficulty learning to think in that pidgin language, because the complexities and nuances and idioms of the language flow too easily.
See above.
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepka View Post
Actually I've found that the biggest barrier to foreign travel for Americans is the money. While we seem to have a higher per capita disposable income than almost anywhere else, we perceive that we can't afford foreign travel.
You bring up an interesting point. Not only money available but time, which when you have a job really is money. Most Euros get many more weeks off every year than Americans, we end up using our precious two for things like visiting the folks (which because of the size of our country can be hours away by plane) etc.
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Old 07-05-2010, 03:23 PM
 
Location: NYC
2,296 posts, read 4,671,694 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by houstonreadhead View Post
I agree with you. And, I was a secondary school French teacher in the US for six years!

Scott
Quote:
Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
The second language thing is one of the most overrated skills for Americans to have, and yet it's one of the most often pointed out snobby folks who believe it's some great cultural weakness.

The reason people forget most of the French/German/Spanish they learned in school? They don't use it. Why don't they use it? They don't need to. When my company deals with manufacturers in Taiwan or computer programmers in France, we're all speaking English. It might not be fair but the burden is on everyone else, not us, that's just the way it is.
Everyone's situation is different. I am the OP and being bilingual is a requirement for 5 out of 8 positions at my current job. I read/write Spanish fairly well as a result of my middle school/high school/college training but I want to become fluent to improve my job options (bilingual people have more options in my field). I also want to travel in Latin America and English is not spoken as much there as it is in Europe.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:46 PM
 
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Time. Cost. Geography.
As many have said, time is the number one factor. Most Americans aren't even able to take their standard 2 weeks' vacation consecutively. They're lucky to get an entire week off at once!
An 8 hour flight across the pond or 25 hour flight to Asia just isn't feasible.

It's a greater/costlier effort for an Iowan to take a road trip along the California coast, than it is for a British bloke to hop the rail to Paris. Most people, regardless of nationality, opt for what is accessible and affordable. One can't compare the international travel habits of Americans to Europeans, or Europeans to Africans and so on. There is no fair comparison.
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by queensgrl View Post
Everyone's situation is different. I am the OP and being bilingual is a requirement for 5 out of 8 positions at my current job.
I agree completely, everyone's situation is different and perhaps I'm guilty of doing same as jtur88 making silly blanket statements about Americans, but I'd contend that you are the exception although in same places (like where I live, Phoenix) one does see jobs advertised as bilingual required which I assume is Spanish.

I'd like to learn Spanish better, I can get around okay when traveling in Central and South America but can't get anywhere near a real conversation. I speak English and Chinese, I figure if I'd take the time to really learn Spanish I'd have a pretty good portion of the world population to talk to.
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:00 AM
 
2,024 posts, read 2,991,781 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callsnap View Post
Time. Cost. Geography.
As many have said, time is the number one factor. Most Americans aren't even able to take their standard 2 weeks' vacation consecutively. They're lucky to get an entire week off at once!
An 8 hour flight across the pond or 25 hour flight to Asia just isn't feasible.

It's a greater/costlier effort for an Iowan to take a road trip along the California coast, than it is for a British bloke to hop the rail to Paris. Most people, regardless of nationality, opt for what is accessible and affordable. One can't compare the international travel habits of Americans to Europeans, or Europeans to Africans and so on. There is no fair comparison.
Many Americans do not get a lot of vacation time but there are still plenty that do. When you are with a company long enough you get more time. If you work at a university you get more time. Or a teacher - you have all summer. When I lived in the US I worked at a university and had a month off per year, and I wasn't faculty. 3 weeks off at a time would be enough time for a trip to Africa of Australia and certainly Europe.
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:34 AM
 
476 posts, read 1,016,544 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yankinscotland View Post
Many Americans do not get a lot of vacation time but there are still plenty that do. When you are with a company long enough you get more time. If you work at a university you get more time. Or a teacher - you have all summer. When I lived in the US I worked at a university and had a month off per year, and I wasn't faculty. 3 weeks off at a time would be enough time for a trip to Africa of Australia and certainly Europe.
A tiny portion of the US population is in academia and a teacher's salary is rarely conducive to world travel, especially when supporting a family. In the US, it's uncommon to work for the same company for many years and build up vacation time.
One can't compare a small percentage of the US population to the entire population of Europe that receives a month off standard and in some cases a Gap year. Again, there is just no fair comparison.
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Old 07-06-2010, 09:10 AM
 
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If I had to estimate the most common traveler nationality I've encountered when backpacking in Asia I'd say Germans, with Australians a close second. The Aussies definitely have a geographical advantage especially for SE Asia, but for some reason young Germans are always out in droves.
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Old 07-06-2010, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,401,000 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
More unprovable generalities, you always paint with the broadest brush available. There are Koreans who don't like to travel and attempt other languages, and Americans who do.


See above.
Yeah, well I'd rather paint with a broad brush than to assume something to be a universal truth because "there are some" that it applies to.

What you are doing is called "anecdotal evidence", and it has no analytical validity. Your anecdotal evidence of Hawaii does not disprove the generality that there is ocean between here and China.

A blanket statement is not "silly" just because you personally happen to know somebody who doesn't fit the generalization.

Last edited by jtur88; 07-06-2010 at 10:00 AM..
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