By: Hillman Hollister
Much can be said about how Europeans perceive Americans. Several stereotypes immediately come to mind: we are fat, rich, informal and filled with national pride. Condensing all the nations of Europe into a few adjectives presents a far more difficult task.
Stereotypes about European Countries
There are, of course, generalizations which are made for individual European countries. The British drink tea and have bad teeth. The French eat croissants and are passionate lovers. The Italians shout at each other with both their voices and their hands. And everyone—EVERYONE—loves soccer. While these characterizations may hold true for many individuals in each of these countries, it is unfair to apply them universally. Except for that last one, because there are virtually no exceptions to that rule.
A Solid Foundation
But there is something more to America’s perception of Europe than these trivial aspects. When I think of Europe, I think of old stone walls covered in ivy. I think of castles and knights and old wooden galleons. Perhaps these are silly images to hold in my mind, but they are telling of the bigger picture. Put simply, the countries of Europe are old. I look at Europe and see a solid foundation; a society grounded in hundreds and even thousands of years of tradition. The mere fact that there are still kings and queens reminds me of this every day.
The Rebellious Child
Many Americans realize Europe’s age but fail to consider the fact that America is, by comparison, extremely young. Europe quite literally is the mother of America. And just like any teen, America went through it’s rebellious stage. In addition to the literal rebellion, there were also symbolic rebellions. We refused to accept the metric system and bid adieu to Celsius. Though we are past our most angsty stages as a new country, America is still vulnerable to drastic change. Just a century and a half ago we had a Civil War. Today, we are one step away from electing Donald Trump as the leader of the free world.
This is not to say that Europe doesn’t have its own problems—there is plenty of discord to go around. But a strong wind will not blow over stone walls. This sense of tradition is something that we Americans do not have to such a degree.