Americans seem to be obsessed with...

Les Français semblent être obsédés par...

becoming rich. greed, California, Ivy League

being gratest at everything (sports, research, education etc.)

being the best, making things bigger and bigger, and celebrities.

consumption, bigger everything.

fast food, money, and football.

guns and wars; themselves; burgers and fried foods; television; hollywood gossip; money & power.

image, money, power, and individualism

making everything big-- SUVs, super size meals, etc.

making money.



money, celebrities, and being the same.

money, looks, material possessions

money, shopping, traveling


peanut butter; fast food; abortion; guns; themselves; lawsuits


pop culture and money.

television, NASCAR, and theme parks.

their weight and diets, the war in iraq, celebrity gossip

themselves. A good portion of the country is still isolated from the outside world.

war, hamburgers, themselves, and their so-called freedom

wealth and body image.

wealth and status.

donner un avis sur quelque chose sans la connaître et d´imposer son point de vue et de penser que tout ce qui est français est le meilleur

l'argent, les jeux télévisés


la contestation, la critique, la cuisine et leur confort

la crise, les retraites, le réchauffement climatique,

la nourriture, la mode

la peur.

le sexe, le racisme,

les grèves et leur confort personnel

les grèves, le chômage

les problèmes dans les banlieues, les inégalités dans sa société

leur argent

son identité culturelle nationale et, plus particulièrement, par chacune de ses identités régionales


It has been pointed out on the French side that the French view France as the best (see first answer), while the Americans only want to be the best. This is probably not the majority view, but would you say that there's some truth in that statement?

I felt that these two words really showed many differences! For example, the French responses were a lot more tuned to current events, politics, and other major concerns. I felt on the other hand that the Americain responses were much more on the surface level with things like becoming richer, the "best", and the "biggest". There were also words like celebrities that didn't show up anywhere on the French list, but seemed quite frequent on the American side. A lot on the French side was also about equality and also issues like the climate, etc. I was also curious-the idea of cultural identity was listed. Is that something that you find especially important?

Again, as with other comments in this forums, I wonder how representative of the French society do you think these responses are. Can the French students comment on whether the Polytechniciens' answers represent the French population properly or not?

The responses on the MIT side show that American culture is quite superficial. Many of the responses (Ivy League, material possessions, wealth, looks, status) deal with qualities that make one person superior to the rest (of Americans). Americans are always searching for evidence of their superiority whether that be appearance, money, or Ivy League education. On the other hand, the Polytechniciens’responses seem to focus on the negative (les grèves, le chômage, le racisme, etc.). I was also curious whether the response «donner un avis sur quelque chose sans la connaître et d´imposer son point de vue et de penser que tout ce qui est français est le meilleur » was given by a foreign student.

I wondered whether the focus of the responses on the American side on materialism was a criticism of the broader culture in America by people who see themselves as different and not so much part of mainstream culture. It's not uncommon for people at universities like MIT (or especially Harvard!!) to see themselves as somehow better than the average person, and to look down on the celebrity/pop culture which plays a powerful role in much of the rest of America.

On the other hand, people at MIT are themselves still very focussed on success, being the best and making money. Maybe the above observation only applies to some of the responses in the questionnaire.

Paul: nos reponses sont a peu pres aussi representatives que les votres!

I found it interesting that Americans seem to be obsessed with what they want for themselves (money, power) while the French say they are obsessed with social problems that are often talked about (inequalities, racism). Maybe the word has different connotations in the two languages?

What I find most interesting is how almost all the Americans said money while there were a variety of answers on the French side mostly related to current events and non-artificial things. Do you think that there is a difference in maturity? Many of the people writing for MIT are under 20 years old. Do you think we know enough to say anything other than money and other artificial things? Part of the reason we're encouraged to work so hard and end up at schools like MIT is so that we can earn more money. Is there a stress on the more intellectual side to life rather than focusing on how one can essentially "win" at life?