So we just arrived in Interlaken, but I still have a ton to talk about with both Berlin and Munich. Here’s one of those things from the first city. So way back last week in Berlin, we had dinner one night with a tour guide from the UK names Sam. I had met sam before on Frog Camp, and he remembered me because of my stylish glasses. He didn’t remember Ryal though.
Anyways, we were enjoying our meal, asking intellectual questions, stuffing our mouths with schnitzel, and chugging still water. Sam was super interesting to talk to and had a ton of great insight into cultural differences in politics, religion, the whole nine yards. We all were enjoying his insights and wisdom, but there two questions I really wanted to ask him, and one quote we had to share with him.
So I just went for it.
“Okay Sam. So I know you drive on the left side of the road, but what side of the sidewalk do you walk on?”
He paused for a moment, and we finally stumped him. He didn’t really know. I had succeeded in intellectually challenging a European tour guide. After much thought and clarification about what I meant by that, he came to the conclusion that he naturally tended towards the left side of the sidewalk. He also explained that they started driving on the left side because it was safer for horse riders to be on the left side so they could protect themselves with their sword arm (their right arm) against threats on the road. I don’t buy it. I think they’re just wrong.
The next thing brought up was the American Revolution. I know I know, but we were just that comfortable with this guy. Plus Ryal brought it up, not me. Sam quickly responded with “oh yeah I’m so hurt by the fact that you guys one a wars 200 years ago that I had nothing to do with. Also how’s your health care?” Basically, he just started roasting the US, so I had to ask: what do are the stereotypes of US citizens in Europe? Here are the notes I took:
I will admit, most of those are pretty true. You could here us coming towards the U-Bahn station from miles away – or should I say, kilometers away? He also explained to us how there is a difference between the type of people Americans root for, and the type of people Brits root for. Americans love the people who are good at things. We’re really quick to praise success and idolize the people who have done well, or who have been dealt a good hand in life, whereas British culture typically finds it hard to do that. They would much rather see the underdog come out on top than we would. While I don’t think either one is inherently more correct than the other, as the latter may bring up problems with perpetuating success and the former may cause exclusivity, that simple conversation revealed just how much people of different countries can learn from each other.