Friday, July 19, 2002

The Isle of Albion

Home is where the heart is, but I do enjoy being here. Basically, I really like England, but I love Virginia. I definitely want to come back, and next time stay on the outskirts of London instead of the very center in Kensington where everything's expensive and no one's British. I was talking with a co-worker today about how Americans and British honor treaties as they're written, while Europeans utterly disregard them, and I mentioned that I'm wary of anyone who doesn't speak English as their first language. She looked at me in shock for a second, so I had to explain myself. I pointed out that English-speaking people all tend to have a fairly similar mindset. If we sign a treaty, we assume that there's an agreement and that it should be honored. Many other people think a treaty is just an agreement to stop fighting for the present, and that it's not meant to be, you know, actually followed or anything stupid like that. I won't say that this is a worse way of thinking, since it does have certain merits, but it's certainly very different from our own. If I lived in France, Greece, Pakistan, or wherever for a while, I might learn how to properly interpret this "national idiom" and adjust my behavior accordingly. As I'm really only familiar with American and British culture, they're the only ones I understand. Differences don't even have to be malicious for there to be harm. If an Anglo-Australo-American was talking to a European, you'd notice something very odd. The Anglo would start out about a handshake's-distance away from the European, who would then begin to slowly close to about a foot and a half away. The Anglo would back up, and the European would follow, usually ending only with the termination of the conversation or the Anglo hitting a wall. Eventually, the Anglo thinks the European is being inconsiderate and pushy, while the European thinks that the Anglo is being rude and paranoid.

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