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Old 12-31-2011, 05:02 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,693 posts, read 18,024,668 times
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Default Which nationalities seem more educated/aware, which ones seem more ignorant?

Although I'm not American I'm a bit tired of people singling out Americans as being especially ignorant (largely based on selective polls) about the world and general knowledge in general compared to other nations. I've experienced a fair deal of ignorance and obliviousness from people of many nationalities, and from travelling have found Americans no stupider on average than others.

I suppose this will make my question sound sort of hypocritical/like setting up a bash-fest between countries. Anyway, in your experience, do any nations stand out as being particularly educated in general, globally aware/worldly? Do any strike you as being the opposite, rather unaware of the world outside their backyard?
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Old 12-31-2011, 05:26 AM
 
Location: Yorkshire, England
4,486 posts, read 3,467,201 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Although I'm not American I'm a bit tired of people singling out Americans as being especially ignorant (largely based on selective polls) about the world and general knowledge in general compared to other nations. I've experienced a fair deal of ignorance and obliviousness from people of many nationalities, and from travelling have found Americans no stupider on average than others.

I suppose this will make my question sound sort of hypocritical/like setting up a bash-fest between countries. Anyway, in your experience, do any nations stand out as being particularly educated in general, globally aware/worldly? Do any strike you as being the opposite, rather unaware of the world outside their backyard?
Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi! (Sorry but you were asking for that...) I meet a lot of Australians in everyday life over here and though most of them are nice, easy-going people, when I get talking to them about the places in Europe they're planning on visiting (not their back yard, I accept) the lack of knowledge is quite shocking (not that that's necessarily a bad thing) when I think that these are the ones who are interested enough to take the time and effort to travel, what must the ones who stay at home be like? I suppose it's inevitable growing up in a monolingual, isolated country notorious for being intellectual-unfriendly. One thing I have noticed about Australians I've met though is that they are much more familiar with Asia, despite the fact that 99% of them who I've met have been from a European heritage.

The most aware IMO would have to be those living in the smaller, non-English speaking countries in northern Europe. Growing up in a place where watching foreign-language TV with or even without subtitles, going abroad multiple times a year and having no choice but to speak a foreign language and reading books in English rather than wait three months for the translation into your language is the norm, plus a society which respects being cultured, well-read and knowing about the rest of the world (and which has an education system to match) can't help but breed people like that.

Last edited by ben86; 12-31-2011 at 05:41 AM..
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:33 AM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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Scandinavians are incredibly aware.. most can speak English and they are obsessed with UK/US pop culture trends..
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:35 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,693 posts, read 18,024,668 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben86 View Post
Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi! (Sorry but you were asking for that...) I meet a lot of Australians in everyday life over here and though most of them are nice, easy-going people, when I get talking to them about the places in Europe they're planning on visiting (not their back yard, I accept) the lack of knowledge is quite shocking (not that that's necessarily a bad thing) when I think that these are the ones who are interested enough to take the time and effort to travel, what must the ones who stay at home be like? I suppose it's inevitable growing up in a monolingual, isolated country notorious for being intellectual-unfriendly. One thing I have noticed about Australians I've met though is that they are much more familiar with Asia, despite the fact that 99% of them who I've met have been from a European heritage.

The most aware IMO would have to be those living in the smaller, non-English speaking countries in northern Europe. Growing up in a place where watching foreign-language TV with or even without subtitles, going abroad multiple times a year and having no choice but to speak a foreign language and reading books in English rather than wait three months for the translation into your language is the norm, plus a society which respects being cultured, well-read and knowing about the rest of the world (and which has an education system to match) can't help but breed people like that.
Australia is similar to America in that regard; a geographically isolated, monolingual country which for many years shunned the outside world.

I think it's expected for more Australians to be more familiar with Asian than Europe, as far more go there due to cost and proximity. Many of these, however, are just casual/mass tourists, much like Brits who go to Spain or Americans who go to Mexico or the Caribbean. I know many people who go to Bali every year and that's the only overseas place they've been to or perhaps will ever experience. They're happy, though, I guess most Aussies live by routine. Having said that we have a pretty large segment of more 'interested' or 'cultured' travelers, but even among them I've met with some geographical ignorance. Anti-intellectual is sort of right; many Aussies view intellectual people as a bit snobby, but you'd be surprised at how many 'ocker' Aussies are actually pretty educated.

The Dutch and Scandinavians, and to a lesser extent Germans seem pretty worldly. The Brits, despite travelling alot, seem to vary. I've encountered some stunning ignorance. An example was in Thailand while waiting to go on an elephant trek I overheard two English girls. One said,
'I''m scared of the elephants eating me,'
The other one replied, 'They're vegetarian!'
That one made my day, haha. I know it's just one isolated example, but I've travelled with plenty of Brits and some are pretty ignorant. Not that I'm slinging at the Brits as a response to your example of the Aussies, as I've met so many and most weren't too bad. I'd say the average person, including many travellers, just doesn't really study geography, sociology, cultures etc or anything much so isn't as aware of things.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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I totally agree with ben86. In general, small rich countries are generally where it's at when it comes to this topic.

I actually have my own personal armchair theory about this. For starters, consider that every single country has a certain number of high-level positions - the number of which does not vary much regardless of country size. Take ambassadors for example. Say you need 200 ambassadors because there are 200 countries in the world. You don't necessarily need more ambassadors just because you are Brazil as opposed to Iceland. And yet because of population size this still means that 1 out of every million Brazilians gets to be an ambassador to a foreign country, compared to maybe 1 in every 1000 Icelanders. And so it goes for any number of positions within a given country. Sure, a large country like Brazil or the U.S. offers many different positions beyond the federal level because of state governments, etc., but it is still doesn't mean they come anywhere close to the lower ratios you find in smaller countries.

(Of course, the larger countries tend to offer much greater economic opportunities, but this is not what we are discussing here.)

Also, I also find that smaller countries tend to have fewer people and areas that seem to be left behind in the broad sense of the term. Perhaps it is easier to deliver a quality education to a smaller, more concentrated population than it is to a huge mass of people over a large area. It is also easier to keep an eye on whether things are being done right. This also appears to be the case when it comes to regional socio-economic development, and small rich countries seem to have much fewer "forsaken" areas than the larger rich countries. Once again, perhaps it is because smaller entities are easier to manage and are not as unwieldy.

Could it be that small really is beautiful?
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:44 AM
 
15,584 posts, read 12,827,161 times
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I think Israelis are very aware of what goes on in the world.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:48 AM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
14,607 posts, read 8,170,409 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Australia is similar to America in that regard; a geographically isolated, monolingual country which for many years shunned the outside world.

I think it's expected for more Australians to be more familiar with Asian than Europe, as far more go there due to cost and proximity. Many of these, however, are just casual/mass tourists, much like Brits who go to Spain or Americans who go to Mexico or the Caribbean. I know many people who go to Bali every year and that's the only overseas place they've been to or perhaps will ever experience. They're happy, though, I guess most Aussies live by routine. Having said that we have a pretty large segment of more 'interested' or 'cultured' travelers, but even among them I've met with some geographical ignorance. Anti-intellectual is sort of right; many Aussies view intellectual people as a bit snobby, but you'd be surprised at how many 'ocker' Aussies are actually pretty educated.

The Dutch and Scandinavians, and to a lesser extent Germans seem pretty worldly. The Brits, despite travelling alot, seem to vary. I've encountered some stunning ignorance. An example was in Thailand while waiting to go on an elephant trek I overheard two English girls. One said,
'I''m scared of the elephants eating me,'
The other one replied, 'They're vegetarian!'
That one made my day, haha. I know it's just one isolated example, but I've travelled with plenty of Brits and some are pretty ignorant. Not that I'm slinging at the Brits as a response to your example of the Aussies, as I've met so many and most weren't too bad. I'd say the average person, including many travellers, just doesn't really study geography, sociology, cultures etc or anything much so isn't as aware of things.
have you travelled with a lot of Scandianvians?
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:49 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,693 posts, read 18,024,668 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chava61 View Post
I think Israelis are very aware of what goes on in the world.
I met a group of middle aged Israeli ladies in Vietnam and they did seem pretty knowledgeable about the world/politics etc. They said that because of the hostility towards Israelis in the Arab states surrounding them, many Israelis travel abroad to Asia (exc. West Asia) and I'm assuming to a greater extent Europe.
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Old 12-31-2011, 06:57 AM
 
2,228 posts, read 2,469,386 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dunno what to put here View Post
have you travelled with a lot of Scandianvians?

----

Scandinavians and Dutch are very well travelled. They have been travelling around the world since the 60's. It's quite common to find Scandinavians travelling around the world after of before iniciating university, for any reason.

-------------------------
I''m scared of the elephants eating me,'
The other one replied, 'They're vegetarian!'

Those British girls we joking..
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Old 12-31-2011, 07:24 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,693 posts, read 18,024,668 times
Reputation: 11862
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manolón View Post
----

Scandinavians and Dutch are very well travelled. They have been travelling around the world since the 60's. It's quite common to find Scandinavians travelling around the world after of before iniciating university, for any reason.

-------------------------
I''m scared of the elephants eating me,'
The other one replied, 'They're vegetarian!'

Those British girls we joking..
Trust me, they weren't...
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