How do other countries view the United States of America?
“Big” was a word used by everyone interviewed, not only referring to the size of the country but the size of its people.
“Growing up in Thailand, I always saw how huge Americans were in the movies. Americans [are] just always eating, they never stop. They eat too much,” Chanakarn Poomjaisak said. “When I got to America I realized the portions were huge. My host family took me to lunch after I landed and my leftovers from lunch lasted me until the next day. They were all I ate.”
Poomjaisak was an exchange student from Thailand two years ago and is now attending Pierce College.
“Before I went to America, I thought [Americans] were fat,” Hiroko Masuda said.
Masuda was a Japanese exchange student the same year as Poomjaisak. Both Masuda and Poomjaisak commented on the American teenager’s lifestyle.
“When I heard of America I heard about how they just eat and party. Their lives are so much easier than ours in Thailand. In Thailand we wake up at 6 a.m., eat breakfast, go to work or school and then eat lunch at some point. Dinner is at about 3 p.m. usually and then we work out or do more work until we go to bed. This way the food does not sit in the bottom of our stomachs while we sleep,” Poomjaisak said.
According to Poomjaisak, these perceptions of America did not change when she came to America in 2009.
Japanese teacher Hidee Mackenzie grew up between Taiwan and Japan. She commented on how expansive America was and that the problem of America’s weight started at a young age.
“I thought, when you are a child in American [you get fed] chocolate and ice cream… I think Americans eat more meat and bread. Not enough vegetables,” Mackenzie said.
Mackenzie also explained how easy it is to purchase things in America.
“People around me [in Japan] said that you can buy anything that [you] want. I remember that. Our view as children is that America is a super-rich country,” Mackenzie said.
Poomjaisak said that as Americans, we don’t have to work very hard for the abundance of wealth that we have.
“It seems like in America you can get everything so easily. I didn’t expect that. I thought that [because this] country is so much bigger that it would be more difficult to reach some things for basic needs,” Mackenzie said. “Because your country is so big I thought it would be difficult to unite it. [But it was not.]”
Mackenzie believes Japanese people are much more accepting.
“I think that [America] demands more than Japanese culture. It seems like [Japan] demands [perfection]. But actually, in reality, we don’t. We compromise a lot. We think about the other side… In America you constantly have to fight,” Mackenzie said.
Mackenzie also stated that Americans are slowly turning to a healthier lifestyle and changing their lives.
“I think recently, maybe, people are more conscious about their diet and lifestyle,” Mackenzie said.
Even though Poomjaisak, Mackenzie and Masuda all commented on our poor diet and lifestyle, they still believe America is a good place to live.
“I think that Americans are lucky. Their culture is strong and it is a good place to live,” Poomjaisak said.