When I was a small child I would look at the world map and think. Some borders seemed natural to me. For some, I couldn’t understand the logic at all. If a river runs between two countries that was logical. But I couldn’t understand if a border was drawn on a mountain or on a wide plateau. Plus, there are borders in Africa and America drawn straight by a ruler. I found them the most surreal of all… On the other hand, naming pieces of lands as continents was practically a need that I could understand. In my mind Australia and America was worth naming seperately but why Europe, Asia and Africa were named seperately? This is still a kind of a mystery to me. Now, living in a city like Istanbul, doesn’t help much at all. It is a lot confusing when one is able to get from one continent to the other in seven minutes on a boat. Imagine doing this two times a day. Getting to and from work… Why is one of them called Europe and the other Asia? I have friends who live on the Asian side. So should I call them Asian? And if they move to a district on the European side will they be European all in a sudden? Anyway, the topic here is Europeans. The people who has almost erased the borders within them, carry the same money in their wallets, decide together and act together politicalwise as one… Who are they really?
During the first half of the 20th century Europeans faught with each other, passing from borders with rifles and guns, trying to change or defend the borders on the map. They spent the last half of the 20th century trying to unite. Looking at Europeans from a country like Turkey which is at the periphery of the so called continent, it is possible to say all those Europeans are the same. But with a closer look, it is apparent that Europe is not homogenic at all. Forget about all the serious politic discussions and statistics, just looking at the daily human relations tell a lot, especially when flirting. While a Brit -though they still don’t use Euros it would be unfair to call them anything other than European- just considers about flirting a girl the Italian is already dating the girl. While the Brit finally decides to flirt and begins to constract the first sentence in his head, the Italian has already spoken out according to his intention, full of improvised complements which will help him to get the result he wants more or less. Eventually the repressed Brit finds comfort in depressive pop songs while the Italian sings arias out loud. While flirting, in contrast to non-committing Brits, French men become desperate philosophers as anyone can recall from French films with love triangles. The disadvantage of this kind of conversation is French tending to do an autopsy on the relationship even before the relationship exists, which actually makes the relationship impossible. The Dutch are fun, but nobody can be sure if they would still be fun without the magic mushroom. Spanish are passionate, which is another way of saying bullheaded. Russians are harsh. Greeks… well they are a lot like Turks. Jealous… Irish are even more jealous. The list goes on and on. There’s no end to the prejudices -right or wrong- one nation has for the other. So here are some of the cliches about Europeans in general. As it is said in the famous song, ‘we are one, but not the same’…
French are lucky that they don’t have to go through the nightmare of learning the French gramer at school. They are also confident when they are looking at the menu in an expensive French restaurant. They are also fully aware of what they are ordering and don’t have to worry about the pronounciation. They are capable of eating bugs and frogs. They are also lucky not to have to watch the French movies with subtitles. Even the not so handsome French guys has the opportunity to be the movie stars. And they live at the heart of fashion.
They can read Goethe in their native language. Other than that, they have discipline, discipline, discipline! Though they are recognized of working very hard compared to many other European countries, their working hours are recently reduced. Their holidays are longer. And they take the advantage of those hollidays wandering out of Germany. They don’t laugh much. Italian, French and English comedians exist but a German world-famous comedian is hard to recall.
They can drink warm beer and might have a noble title. Most of them are fanatic of ‘soccer’. For light overcoats and umbrellas they have a definate taste. At lunch time and at dinner time they can and they would and they are eating meat and chips. Sometimes just for a change they switch to fish and chips. Most young Brits are singles. So they usually have all their meals alone in silence. It is a common habbit to add milk to tea. Though they hear their precious, native language spoken in different parts of the world with very different accents they can’t do anything about it. The adventourous Brits are seen all around the world as English language teachers. And, they have a distinct sense of humour.
They are familiar with weird pasta shapes. They have the privelage of talking to a priest and get rid of all the sins. They can follow what is going on in most of the operas. Other than some more upsetting issues they can just stress about Pisa Tower being not straight and that’s all. They probably have a relative or a friend, designing for a world famous brand. They never have to eat alone and in silence. They feel free to applaud when their plane lands safely. Football is an important issue. They are not ever expected to be quiet. And they are not at all.
They are always mistaken for being Mexican when they travel out of Europe. There was a time when most Europeans believed that Africa started at Pirene Mountains. They generously share their beaches with Germans and Brits. Mathadors have to wear really tight pants. They don’t even consider of making piece with bulls. They have flamenco. Their language is widely spoken all around the world. They don’t need to wait for the translations to read the wonderful Latin literature
They have Guinnes. Irish rock music is great. Might be a bit of repeating but it should be said again that they have the Guinnes. They don’t neccesarily die for U2. Once again they have Guinnes. And a beautiful countryside. And must be strongly stressed again that they have Guinnes.
They speak three different languages in one sentence, compeletely unconciously. Bars are open untill the late hours. No tipping necessary at the reataurants and at taxis. Dry cleaners earn a lot and suits are sold a lot. After all Brussels is the capital of the united Europe. One day is more than enough to drive from one end of the country to the other. A handy country where its hard to get lost. All the European countries are just a couple of hours driving away. And Belgians have an emperial family which is not famous at all.