First Impressions

At The Airport
The paradox of choice hits me as early as the airport shop where I’m supposed to choose from a wall of sweets. There are a hundred kinds of nuts, combinations, candies and brands and things I’d never heard of things like wasabi-covered beans (as green as Yoda) and turkey jerky. Fortunately I’ve got David to show me around and I let him pick something for me.

The airport security carry huge pistols that I only know from X-Box shooting games and never saw on any officer in Europe.  They don’t look particularly intimidating, the way they stand around drinking coffee and laughing. Carrying more than a few too many pounds of body fat in the waist area, I feel confident I could out-run any one of them. But then, why would they make a chase if they’ve got that gun? I worry my staring at them will get me arrested today but I just can’t help myself.

I believe the major misunderstanding between Europeans and Americans is based on this first impression we have a tendency to get stuck in: We feel Americans are a loud and obnoxious people, showing their low level of brain activity and rudeness compared to ‘us’ well-behaved and sophisticated Europeans. There is some truth in that but there is more to it than just that.

Yes Americans are louder in public, but it also makes them more approachable. Strangers interact quickly, less obstructed by upholding appearances or a desire for quietude. They are accustomed to be fully relaxed wherever they go. It’s a nice way to live when you think about it, but misunderstood completely for rudeness. An American would feel terribly awkward on a Dutch train considering how silent it is. The Dutch would be reading books and newspapers and would be looking very sophisticated indeed. It would take an American much effort to make a friend in the Netherlands because he is unacquainted with all the indirect, delicate ways we communicate.

They just like saying things the way they are.

Categories: Being Dutch in the USA, North America

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