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#16
Emily Martin

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Britain is technically an island, albeit a rather large one. As such, we don't have the small-population sense of community, but there is a sense of individuality. We're different to mainland Europeans - they're all pretty similar and seem to merge together at the borders (generalising, guys, no offence meant! :unsure: ). There's a very physical edge to the UK's outline and I think that has an effect on the country's mentality. We're all in it together, whether in Dunkirk spirit or moaning about 'rip-off Britain' where everything is double the price it is in other countries.

And we're arrogant. Brits abroad expect everyone to speak English; while France may have good food and Germany good beer, nowhere is anywhere near as good as the rolling hills and rugged peaks of home. Everything is just better in Britain. It's an imperial hangover to a large extent and I think the effect is slowly lessening.

There's also a long historywhich Britons are very proud of. Never mind that before the 12th century we were invaded/raided/conquered by every country in Europe at one time or another - that's long enough ago that we're proud of the rich cultural and linguistic heritage they all left. Since then good ol' Blighty has led the world in industrial revolution, empire building and not-getting-invaded-in-the-war. There's definitely a secret pride about that. But I digress ;)

To me, everywhere else seems huge. In the UK you're never more than 72 miles from the sea and even away from the coasts the maritime influence is strong. But the size of America staggers me - it takes HOW LONG to fly from one side to the other? I know several people who, when shown an equal-area map, are shocked to see how teeny-weeny the UK is. It's invariably followed by a puffing out of the chest and something along the lines of "and we're still better than them at this!"

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Some slight exaggeration, perhaps, :P but the sentiments are true. And I love Europeans, didn't mean to rib you too much.

I'm not sure that Britain is small enough to be relevant to your question, Epic, but I hope this helps a bit. Even on such a large group of islands, the pride and sense of community is still there, it just needs a bit of a poke to get it to show.

Someone once told me that Britons think 100 miles is a long way and Americans think 100 years is a long time. Anyone else heard this? I quite like it...
Emily Martin
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"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen" - Albert Einstein

#17
DaveB

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Someone once told me that Britons think 100 miles is a long way and Americans think 100 years is a long time. Anyone else heard this? I quite like it...

I hadn't heard that before, but it certainly rings true. :lol:
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#18
Derek Tonn

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Emily,

If you think that Brits have an out of control "superiority complex," you haven't spent enough time hanging around your average American. [sarcasm] See...there I/we go. Case in point: We're even "better" at being arrogant and self-centered! We're #1! We're #1! [/sarcasm] :lol:

Being serious though, that's one thing that has always interested me related to Europe. Great Britain, France, Germany, etc. are essentially just "states" in the eyes of an American from the perspective of scale when looking at a map...kind of like traveling between Texas and Colorado. Only Europe is a collection of "Texas" and "Colorado" that speak different languages, and have spent centuries killing one another in trying to impose their will, culture, religion and influence upon their neighbors.

There is so much geographic and cultural diversity in the United States. I've spent time in 42 of our 50 American states, and the variety in experiences one can have is amazing. English is the predominant language...but you'll have many different words or variations of pronunciation for a single word.

But to answer your original question, it takes a minimum of 5 hours and 20 minutes to fly from Boston to Los Angeles...roughly 3,000 miles by car.
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#19
Emily Martin

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Emily,

If you think that Brits have an out of control "superiority complex," you haven't spent enough time hanging around your average American. [sarcasm] See...there I/we go. Case in point: We're even "better" at being arrogant and self-centered! We're #1! We're #1! [/sarcasm] :lol:

Being serious though, that's one thing that has always interested me related to Europe. Great Britain, France, Germany, etc. are essentially just "states" in the eyes of an American from the perspective of scale when looking at a map...kind of like traveling between Texas and Colorado. Only Europe is a collection of "Texas" and "Colorado" that speak different languages, and have spent centuries killing one another in trying to impose their will, culture, religion and influence upon their neighbors.

There is so much geographic and cultural diversity in the United States. I've spent time in 42 of our 50 American states, and the variety in experiences one can have is amazing. English is the predominant language...but you'll have many different words or variations of pronunciation for a single word.


Many American's I've met have had a different sense of 'being better' than the older generation of Brits who tend to vocalise such views. They were proud of being the 'leader of the free world!' and from the 'land of opportunity!' while people like my boss (a real old fashioned stickler) truly believe that to be born British is to be born ten points ahead of everybody else. We don't do things in a better way, we don't have a better country, we just ARE better. Not a view I subscribe to but I find such differences fascinating.

And I seem to have hijacked the thread. Oops! Right, islands. Ummm, yes. It may be of some help to look at the Isle of Man or the Faroe Islands and investigate their mentalities - both very close to their larger neighbours but fiercely independent and defined by their watery borders. There's also a long and proud history to each of them. How much history does your island have, Epic? It seems to me that the more there is, the more people are proud of it.

But to answer your original question, it takes a minimum of 5 hours and 20 minutes to fly from Boston to Los Angeles...roughly 3,000 miles by car.


Hmmm. That's big.
Emily Martin
Petroleum Geoscientist
Bournemouth, UK


"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen" - Albert Einstein

#20
pghardy

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Someone once told me that Britons think 100 miles is a long way and Americans think 100 years is a long time. Anyone else heard this? I quite like it...


It may well have been me (if you are the Emily Martin I know!). I quote it a lot and having lived in California as well as England, it is very true. I'd like to track down an original source for it - I didn't invent it. A quick google shows it's not rare, but nobody seems to know who said it first!
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#21
Jean-Louis

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There is so much geographic and cultural diversity in the United States. I've spent time in 42 of our 50 American states, and the variety in experiences one can have is amazing. English is the predominant language...but you'll have many different words or variations of pronunciation for a single word.


I,ve had the opposite impression. The whole of North America from Alaska to Florida looks more and more like one big uninterupted strip mall with the same suburbs, the same stores, the same pockets of minorities and ethnic shops, etc.
The other thing that is exactly the same is the locals beieif that their's is a distinct special place.
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#22
Derek Tonn

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I was thinking about that a lot after my last post, J-L.

I hate the strip malls and the millions of cul de sacs and garages bigger than one's home in the 'burbs as much as the next guy. However, those types of things are also probably very helpful (psychologically) in making the United States more than just 50 loosely-affiliated "autonomous collectives." [monty python] Whenever I visit new places though, I generally don't drive the freeways and pull into the next fast food place, unless I'm in a hurry. I travel the back roads...the less traveled paths. Sometimes it gets me into trouble (ask me sometime about taking the "scenic route" through the South side of Chicago at 12-1am in part to avoid the tollways, lol). But that is more the type of experiences I was thinking of when I typed my initial post.

Getting on those smaller roads and highways driving through little towns that barely find their way on to a map is what America is all about, IMHO. That's where you can experience all of the interesting quirks and foibles. What we all get when we fly into various cities for conferences or work is something entirely different.
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