Friday, July 21, 2006

Things I Learned About (Eastern) Europeans

1. They don't find Communism funny. They find it very strange that Americans think Communism is hip and cool, after Communists destroyed their countries and killed so many of their people.

2. They all fucking hate each other. They all have an enemy country/archrival that they explicitly or implicitly hate.

3. They're all very nationalistic, and all have their own nationalistic narratives of history. To this end, you can't dis their countries at all.

4. They see Jews as Americans see Native Americans: never there, always stereotyped, sometimes romanticized. I was the only Jew on the program. Generally, people treated me with respect, but I was called "Jew" and Jew jokes were made with frequency. Nothing blatantly anti-Semitic, but I could tell some people had their, let's say, predispositions.

5. They generally dislike/hate America, but love American corporations (which is the opposite of how Americans feel about America). Their love of and veneration for McDonald's must be seen to be believed. They even lauded Arby's. My only explanation: the only time I felt full in Greece was after eating a Filet-o-Fish.

6. They don't understand marriage or commitment. This could have to do with the young age of my program's participants. But, in general, they don't understand marriage or breeding as Americans do. They see life as one endless party wherein they crave the day when they'll get to throw their granny panties on stage at a Bon Jovi concert at age 65. They don't realize that life is about being a corporate drone, working hard, raising at least 3 kids, and making some sort of meaningful contribution to society. I think they're in a post-responsibility, hyper-individualistic phase. They don't see the point of dedicating your life to raising a family and being a respectable, monied individual. Then again, their arcane tax systems take being monied out of the equation at birth. Life is more about having fun, then making a difference. What they don't realize is that Americans give lip service to making a difference, have a little bit of fun, watch A LOT of TV, then derive their pleasure from naming their kids with weird names like JaRon and Dakota. I think the pleasures of maturity/responsibility outweigh the fleeting joys of youth, but that may just be what we have to keep telling ourselves. Either way, it's a wonder that these people breed at all. In 20 years, their populations will be so small that Baskin Robbins could conquer their lands with a few well-placed ice cream trucks. Who am I kidding? They already have.


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