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Your Perception Of Your Neighbors  
User currently offlineSabena340 From Belgium, joined Jan 2000, 38 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1207 times:

I stumbled on quite an interesting subject today while watching Dutch TV. There was an ongoing discussion about how the Dutch perceive the Germans, with several experts on the matter giving their personal experiences and opinions. Not surprisingly (for anybody who has spend some interacting with Dutch people), the Dutch perception of Germans was moderately to extremely negative. More surprising however was that the most likely reason was not war-related: an expert who had studied subject told that there was a theory which states that people from smaller nations who have bigger nations with similar features as neighbors often harbour these kinds of feelings due to an inferiority complex. The comparison was also made with Canadian-American relations. This is a very interesting theory which explains a lot, but certainly not everything, so my question to you is:

How are people from your neighboring countries generally perceived in your home nation? What do you think are the most likely reasons for this positive/negative/neutral perception?

41 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineYooYoo From Canada, joined Nov 2003, 6057 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1198 times:

Quoting Sabena340 (Thread starter):
the Dutch perception of Germans was moderately to extremely negative

I blame Kas for starting these negative remarks, we all know his hidden agenda.  Wink

Quoting Sabena340 (Thread starter):
a theory which states that people from smaller nations who have bigger nations with similar features as neighbors often harbour these kinds of feelings

We all know Kas has had this size "complex" for some time now.  Wink



I am so smart, i am so smart... S-M-R-T... i mean S-M-A-R-T
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20322 posts, RR: 63
Reply 2, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1198 times:

Quoting Sabena340 (Thread starter):
More surprising however was that the most likely reason was not war-related

Interesting conclusion. An acquaintence in Holland purposely gives wrong directions to anyone from Germany who asks for his help on the street, then mutters under his breath, "your father stole my father's bicycle." I was taken aback by that at first, but having not lived under similar circumstances, can't judge how he would feel.

Now, those Canadians! I wish they'd make their coins more different from ours! I'm always getting quarters with Her Majesty on them!  Wink



International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineHAJFlyer From Switzerland, joined Sep 2005, 1472 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1196 times:

I live in the German speaking part of Switzerland, close to the German border and I am a Swiss citizen with German ancestry.

The Germans are generally regarded as rather pushy and loud mouthed in Switzerland. The fact that they have pushed around the little southern neighbor several times (the overflight restrictions on the approach to ZRH or increased border controls come to mid), did nothing to improve their less than stellar image here. However, as Germany is by far our largest trading partner, people do their utmost to try to get along peacefully and mend fences whenever a rather vicious row has been settled. I would say that the relations between the two nations are very friendly ,but they have been strained badly by several issues in last few years and IMHO are thus worse than they have been at any other time in the last two decades.

Whereas the Germans are at times perceived to be a threat, the Austrians are regarded more or less as equals. One of the favourite pastimes here is telling jokes about Austrians.  Wink

My French and Italian speaking compatriots are better qualified to judge our relations with France and Italy, so I will leave those topics for them.


User currently offlineYooYoo From Canada, joined Nov 2003, 6057 posts, RR: 51
Reply 4, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 1188 times:

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 2):
Now, those Canadians! I wish they'd make their coins more different from ours! I'm always getting quarters with Her Majesty on them!

If it has an animal on it, it's Canadian. And btw, you stole our coin sizes !!  Wink

Note i have a separate jar at home with American coins received from shopping. Last year i totaled $12 in US coins from transactions north of the border.



I am so smart, i am so smart... S-M-R-T... i mean S-M-A-R-T
User currently offlineSabena340 From Belgium, joined Jan 2000, 38 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 1172 times:

I forgot to give you my answers. Keep in mind that perception is a personal thing and opinions differ even though I’ve tried to give you what I assume is the most common opinion.

The Dutch: The theory I mentioned above is more or less applicable to Belgo-Dutch relations; even though Dutch speaking Belgians share close cultural ties with Dutch people, the latter are often accused of being arrogant, loud and from time to time obnoxious. Nevertheless, I personally, do think we can learn a lot from the Dutch and can certainly appreciate their cut-to-the-chase attitude.
The Germans: Most Belgians meet quite few Germans, so their opinions are largely based on preconceptions and German state TV. Germans tend to be perceived in Belgium as cold people who like to keep their distance. It is sometimes said that the Germans are somewhat ‘untrendy’, a reputation which they thank mostly to those archaic variety shows on Sunday afternoon.
The French: Can count on a lot of respect when it comes to their gastronomy, but are also perceived as very stubborn and arrogant.
Luxemburgers: It’s very hard to form an image of this kind of hybrid peoples, especially when you’ve never met a real life specimen. My preconceived idea of Luxemburgers is that of dull, colourless people, similar to that which I assume most people abroad have about Belgian.


User currently offlineManuCH From Switzerland, joined Jun 2005, 3007 posts, RR: 48
Reply 6, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 1149 times:
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HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting HAJFlyer (Reply 3):
My French and Italian speaking compatriots are better qualified to judge our relations with France and Italy, so I will leave those topics for them.

I live in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Here, Italians are also seen as pushy and rather rude. It's obviously a mis-conception, because most Italians are very nice people. But like in every nation, there are exceptions, and in the first years when there were Italian immigrants, they sort of enclosed themselves in ghetto-like regions - like Little Italy in New York, but in a more negative context. It's still like that even today, for small groups of them, and this helps feeding the negative image they sometimes get.

Mind you, I have nothing against Italians, I know many of them and we get along very well. I just can't stand this "isolating in a ghetto" thing, especially because Italians and italian-speaking Swiss speak, well, the same language!



Never trust a statistic you didn't fake yourself
User currently offlineBarcode From Switzerland, joined Dec 2001, 678 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 1138 times:

I spend rather a lot of time living in Switzerland, in a town called Schaffhausen right near the German border. Generally speaking, I find the Swiss to be quite insular in the sense they dislike too many foreigners visiting and rather pedantic.

For instance, my girlfriends apartment has a garage underneath. After a month of parking her car, a neighbour decided to leave a note, complete with illustrations and instructions on how to park a car in a straight line. Nevermind the fact my girlfriend was within the lines, it was not satisfactory.

If he did that on my street in the U.K, it's quite possible it would cause an altercation. Funny thing is, the neighbour did not see it as being rude, he thought he was being helpful.

Other instances involve some neighbour knocking on our door at about 11pm to ask my girlfriend to sweep the laundry room as she was the last one to use it. WTF, it's not like we had left it in a state. We do try to be considerate of others, this particular woman was just very petty.

What I see as being extremely tactless behaviour, some Swiss view as being quite normal. It is a beautiful country, but as far as the customs go, I'd rather be back in Portugal where you can go out for a meal at 10 pm, enjoy an espresso and stay in a bar until late. The Swiss don't seem to understand the concept of entertainment.


User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 1132 times:

Quoting Barcode (Reply 7):
I'd rather be back in Portugal where you can go out for a meal at 10 pm, enjoy an espresso and stay in a bar until late.

Chasing the Green Fairy?


User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9483 posts, RR: 42
Reply 9, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 1120 times:

Quoting Barcode (Reply 7):
a neighbour decided to leave a note, complete with illustrations and instructions on how to park a car in a straight line.

My brother's been in Switzerland for about 15 years. He's in Geneva now but when he was working in Bern he was looking for an article he'd already read in a newspaper and quickly flicking through it by just turning the corner of each page. Someone grabbed it from him, spread it out on a desk, started turning the complete pages and said "there, that's how you look through a newspaper". He was still staring in disbelief at the desk with his hands were they'd been holding the paper when someone else came in a couple minutes later!

On another occasion in Zermatt, he and someone else were eating a fondue. When they'd nearly finished the bread, they started talking about how they were looking forward to the crispy cheese that gets left on the sides. We'd noticed a couple at the table opposite whispering and giggling while looking at our table. Suddenly one of them got up and turned the flame out, and said, rather condescendingly, something like "it's OK, it's not your fault, a lot people don't know you have to do that to stop the cheese burning". Bloody cheek - they knew exactly what they were doing!

In fairness, that kind of thing didn't seem to happen very often but I felt obliged to share.  Smile


User currently offlineHAJFlyer From Switzerland, joined Sep 2005, 1472 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 1111 times:

Quoting Barcode (Reply 7):
After a month of parking her car, a neighbour decided to leave a note, complete with illustrations and instructions on how to park a car in a straight line. Nevermind the fact my girlfriend was within the lines, it was not satisfactory.



Quoting David L (Reply 9):
Suddenly one of them got up and turned the flame out, and said, rather condescendingly, something like "it's OK, it's not your fault, a lot people don't know you have to do that to stop the cheese burning".

Barcode, David L, I am afraid you put your fingers on a very week spot in the Swiss-German national character.

The German speaking Swiss - this would most likely not have happened to you in the French or Italian speaking part of the country - sometimes feel that they have to put people whom they perceive to act inappropriately back in place. Because the Swiss are generally quite direct and do not tend to sugarcoat their statements or actions, you end up with the unfortunate and embarrassing episodes that you experienced.

One factor that might promote this behaviour - and I am guessing here - might be the compuslory military service where you are trained to detect and correct mistakes made by your fellow soldiers to improve the performance of the unit.


User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9483 posts, RR: 42
Reply 11, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1098 times:

Quoting HAJFlyer (Reply 10):
this would most likely not have happened to you in the French or Italian speaking part of the country

My brother certainly hasn't mentioned anything like that since he moved to Geneva!

Quoting HAJFlyer (Reply 10):
the compuslory military service where you are trained to detect and correct mistakes made by your fellow soldiers

I've done some part-time military service and I was able to distinguish between helping my fellow soldier and butting in on a complete stranger. The thing is, he knows a lot of Swiss-Germans who've done Swiss military service and they don't interfere. Mind you, the way some of them treat their weapons when they're travelling would have got us a swift kick up the backside if not a night in the clink!

As I said, it was only a few instances and I only mentioned them because Barcode's tale jogged my memory. I'm obliged to accept it, anyway, it since I visit a couple of times a year.  Smile


User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 8617 posts, RR: 43
Reply 12, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1094 times:

Quoting HAJFlyer (Reply 3):
The fact that they have pushed around the little southern neighbor several times (the overflight restrictions on the approach to ZRH

PUSHED AROUND?!?!? You probably got 1/10th of the bitching that's going on about FRA and how it's a terrible danger to just about everything excluding unemployment, and you still feel pushed around?

Well, we're the big one anyway... so we'll have to live with that.



Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineAviationmaster From Switzerland, joined Oct 1999, 2473 posts, RR: 35
Reply 13, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1089 times:

Quoting HAJFlyer (Reply 3):
One of the favourite pastimes here is telling jokes about Austrians.

 bigthumbsup 


User currently offlineHAJFlyer From Switzerland, joined Sep 2005, 1472 posts, RR: 9
Reply 14, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1084 times:

Quoting Aloges (Reply 12):
PUSHED AROUND?!?!? You probably got 1/10th of the bitching that's going on about FRA and how it's a terrible danger to just about everything excluding unemployment, and you still feel pushed around?

I am the first to admit that Switzerland in general and the canton of Zurich did not involve the stakeholders living in southern Germany enough for a very long time and thus they share some of the blame for the current situation.

Nevertheless, the way the German federal government acted in this situation by unilaterally imposing restrictions that are questionable at best and illegal at worst under international law (I am sure you are aware that ZRH is suing the German government over this), angered my here considerably.

Considering German history this was not a smart move by Berlin to say the very least.


User currently offlineIFLYMCO From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 482 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1074 times:

Being from the US, I can never tell if some one is Canadian or American until they open their mouth- the only thing that gives it away is the accent.

To me Canadians are a peaceful bunch that don't cause problems (other than driving at kph speeds on our mph highways).

I like Canadians a lot. I am sure they may see us very differently however, when I traveled through Canada I was never treated with anything but respect and kindness.



Now it should be "IFLYDCA"
User currently offlineBarcode From Switzerland, joined Dec 2001, 678 posts, RR: 11
Reply 16, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1036 times:

We've visited Lugano, Locarno etc and found the people to be more welcoming. Maybe that's because we were in a tourist resort, I don't know, but it was a refreshing change. Same thing in Lausanne even, could have been the holiday mood lol.

I try not to get annoyed by these incidents, it's just when they happen I'm literally left speechless and have to remind myself it is normal for them. If somebody had told me how to read a newspaper, I might have turned into a right Chav and yelled obscenities at them.

Curious that military service would be compulsory, the country is neutral for chrissake. My gf and I joke about the bomb shelter in our block of apartments. I think it's actually in the lease that we have to keep it stocked with basic items in the event of an emergency.

What also contributes to the insularity, I'm going to suggest, is that very few of them feel the need to speak another language. Swiss-German and high-German sound very different and have different spellings, so the Swiss in the North might well find it easier to stay close to their home town with what is familiar. In this way, they are like many English I am embarrassed to say, in some cases, I have heard better English from some foreign people than the English I hear at home!

The problem is, this might limit employment prospects. For instance, my girlfriend works for a multinational who have a plant in Schaffhausen. Speaking English as well as German is part of the job. My gf had the skills and wanted to move from Portugal for the experience, so it worked out better to actually hire an outsider than a local with minimal English skills.

On the positive side - the cliche about Swiss efficiency is true. Public transport runs on time. Also, the towns are super-clean, people seem to have respect for the environment. I have yet to see a run down building in the town and have not seen graffiti splashed over every surface like here in the U.K. We could also learn a lot from their recycling schemes - like having a monthly paper collection, being made to seperate food from ordinary household waste etc.

The Swiss are not all bad  Wink


User currently offlineKaddyuk From Wallis and Futuna, joined Nov 2001, 4126 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1031 times:

Ode to being an island.... I told everyone once, i'll say it again...

"CONTINENTS ARE FOR PU55YS!!!!"

 Wink



Whoever said "laughter is the best medicine" never had Gonorrhea
User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9483 posts, RR: 42
Reply 18, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1028 times:

Quoting Barcode (Reply 16):
My gf and I joke about the bomb shelter in our block of apartments. I think it's actually in the lease that we have to keep it stocked with basic items in the event of an emergency.

In Bern his neighbours kept reminding him of this requirement. Next time I was over he gave me a tour of the basement. We walked past room after room filled with folding beds, portable stoves, batteries, blankets, and hundreds of tins and packets of food. Then we came to his "shelter". There in the middle of one of the huge shelves was... one small tin of baked beans. One of the neighbours had threatened to "call the authorities" if he didn't take it more seriously!

Quoting Barcode (Reply 16):
and have not seen graffiti splashed over every surface

It's not as bad as in the UK but there's plenty around in some areas, especially near the railway or the anarchist hangouts. Ever seen the "ZU REICH" painted on the roof of a building in Zurich (do you see what they've done?  Smile).


User currently offlineTexan From New Zealand, joined Dec 2003, 4264 posts, RR: 52
Reply 19, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 1007 times:

State wise, Louisiana and Oklahoma are giant speed traps. I really like New Mexico and the people are very friendly. Haven't been to Arkansas enough to comment.

Country wise, I've never been to Mexico so cannot comment on it. Canada is great, though. Spent close to a week up in Quebec a few years back and absolutely loved it. The people were friendly and helpful, always had something nice to say. Although one of the nice French-Canadian people at the hotel made me laugh with one of her questions. She said that she had been down to Arkansas recently and kept hearing about these people who have red necks. She was wondering how do you identify these people who have red necks? Great place up near Lake Memphremagog.

Texan



"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
User currently offlineAloges From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 8617 posts, RR: 43
Reply 20, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 987 times:

Quoting Kaddyuk (Reply 17):
"CONTINENTS ARE FOR PU55YS!!!!"

Thus proving Barcode's point Big grin :

Quoting Barcode (Reply 16):
I have heard better English from some foreign people than the English I hear at home!



Walk together, talk together all ye peoples of the earth. Then, and only then, shall ye have peace.
User currently offlineHAJFlyer From Switzerland, joined Sep 2005, 1472 posts, RR: 9
Reply 21, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 981 times:

Quoting Barcode (Reply 16):
I think it's actually in the lease that we have to keep it stocked with basic items in the event of an emergency.

Until very recently very strict requirement regarding shelters were included in the building codes. Now they have been relaxed somewhat as we don´t expect a soviet missile attack on short notice any more.  Wink

Quoting Barcode (Reply 16):
I'm going to suggest, is that very few of them feel the need to speak another language. Swiss-German and high-German sound very different and have different spellings, so the Swiss in the North might well find it easier to stay close to their home town with what is familiar. In this way, they are like many English I am embarrassed to say, in some cases, I have heard better English from some foreign people than the English I hear at home!

I disagree with you on this point: Every Swiss has to learn one or two foreign languages at school. In quite a few cantons French and English are even being taught in primary school. Because Switzerland is such a small country with such a small domestic market, it is very dependent on trade with other nations. This requires language skills. I would argue that the average Swiss speaks more foreign languages than the average German, French or Italian.


User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5575 posts, RR: 32
Reply 22, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 961 times:

Oh God! Where do I start? It's almost official policy here to "hate the Brits", particularly in pub culture when England are playing football, yet the same people will follow individual UK teams (particularly Man U and Liverpool) with a passion. I've yet to get my head around this. I'm told it's down to the jingoism of the UK football commentators when England are playing, but I wouldn't know as I'm not a football fan.

The entire country watches UK TV, which isn't surprising as it's so much better than our own, and they glue themselves to crap programmes such as Coronation Street and X Factor.

Probably everybody in the country could name the ten highest profile royals, and all their goings on are followed religiously.

Brits who come to live in Ireland assimilate themselves probably better than any other nationality, so on a personal level we tend to get on well. Indeed I have some fantastic English and Scots friends.

The thing that pisses me off most about the UK is the rigidty of the class system. Not that we haven't got one here, but it's just not nearly as bad.


User currently offlineJafa39 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 951 times:

Australians.....Big, Brash and not afraid of dangerous creatures.

Antarcticans...Smell of fish and can't fly.

Hmmmm, that's about it really, unless you want to talk about Chatham Islanders.


User currently offlineBarcode From Switzerland, joined Dec 2001, 678 posts, RR: 11
Reply 24, posted (8 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 950 times:

Quote:
I would argue that the average Swiss speaks more foreign languages than the average German, French or Italian.

That's quite possible. I know in our canton, English is not taught to young children. And whether we like it or not, it's pretty much a requirement for many jobs with multinationals.

The English I hear when I visit is generally very, very poor. I'm not complaining, since I'm the one who needs to adapt, not vice-versa. I'm just saying that somebody who visits our town expecting to hear coherent English is likely to be disappointed.

It can be a problem for me, as I am deaf so find learning a new language very very difficult. I am just about coping with Portuguese (my partner is Portuguese). So I have to rely on my gf in restaurants, whilst out shopping etc. We're only going to be there for perhaps another year or two, so I can't justify the effort to learn the language when I have several other committments.

It is a beautiful country with a very high standard of living, unfortunately, we find it pretty dull in terms of things to do. To me, the weekends are when things get done, but the Swiss will complain if you wash your car, do your laundry on Sunday's etc. All the rule following can become a bit tedious after a while.


25 Braybuddy : Indeed. It's a spectacular country, but after my last visit there I really wanted to kick over a few dustbins. . .
26 QANTASforever : Oh FFS. Big and brash? Absolutely. Not afraid of dangerous creatures? I have never EVER seen a dangerously lethal snake, spider or marine creature th
27 David L : Very similar to the way a lot of Scots view the English. I'm surprised one GKirk hasn't made a contribution!
28 Post contains images Jafa39 : Bugger...........You'll be telling me Holdens are rubbish next
29 QANTASforever : Holdens are rubbish.
30 TNboy : Damn right - especially not afraid of New Zealanders LOL. Most capital city Australians perhaps. But having lived in the coastal outback for many yea
31 QANTASforever : Seriously - what's with the Steve Irwin stuff? Why are you talking like this? QFF
32 Braybuddy : I love winding-up my Scots friends when I go to Glasgow. Every now and again I'd say something like "Is this the way you do that in England?", to whi
33 HAWK21M : Although things seem to be Improving.But then The Wounds are very very deep. India & Pakistan Since 1947 have been difficult to get along. regds MEL
34 Swisskloten : I would like to know how the Swiss in Zurich would feel if someone from another country caught them making a mistake and corrected them! Would they b
35 David L : And yet yet they (we) are quite happy to call an Aussie a Kiwi, just for a laugh!
36 Post contains images HAJFlyer : I would guess that most Swiss would be silent if something like this happened to them abroad. BTW I think your "cop experience" is not that unusual.
37 Post contains images Jafa39 : Ha ha! We agree on something then!
38 TNboy : Don't ever mention Steve Irwin in my immediate vicinity again!! And what do you expect me to say when a fully grown roo misses hurtling into the wind
39 Post contains images Jap : I hate you too Come to think of it, I don't know if the part of denmark I live on can be considered a part of the continent... :/ Either way... GERMA
40 Post contains images Logan22L : Janni - just come to the US - choose a city and you'll find a great disparity. In general, southerners are more cordial, and northerners are more pri
41 Post contains images Jap : No doubt! I wasn't expressing my own opinion, just what seems to be the way things work (unfortunately). I simply don't understand how some dutch peo
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