My greatest fears are...

Mes plus grandes craintes sont...

(don't have great fears (at least I think so))

academic and professional failure and emotional torment

being eaten by snakes

being lonely, not achieving my goals.

disappointing my friends, family, and self.

drowning in the ocean, dark, moral frustration

failing in life. Jobless, hopeless, laid-off

failing, not being able to fund graduate school, and finding a job eventually.

failure, heights, and death.

failure, loneliness, incompetence

failure, poverty, rejection, disappointment

failure; what the world may be like for my children and grandchildren; heights: riding on escalators and in elevators; being on a ski gondola, or standing on a mountain top and looking upward at a higher peak or standing on a balcony in a high-rise; rats & mice; confinement: the idea of being buried a life.

going through a mundane life and being unable to get out of that.

human indifference and apathy.

illness, and failing at achieving my goals.

is being unsure of myself.

large crowds and essays.

loneliness, failure, and rejection.

losing loved ones and failing to achieve my dreams

not living a full and long life.

not making a difference, losing interest.

not meeting expectations.

snakes; laziness; plane crashes.

that I will lead an ordinary life, and that while swimming in the ocean I'll be eaten by a shark

au sujet de l'amour...

de ne jamais comprendre ce que je veux vraiment

de ne pas être heureux, de perdre un proche

de passer à côté des choses importantes, d´avoir des regrets,

de perdre les gens que j'aime et de ne pas avoir le temps de faire ce que j'aime.

devenir pleinement heureux; l'argent, l'amour, la santé

la douleur, la mort

le nom du futur président, le réchauffement climatique et la fin de mes études

me trouver tout seul au milieu de l'océan ou d'une immense quantité d'eau, la solitude

ne pas profiter de la vie, c´est-à-dire, penser que je n´ai pas profité des opportunités qui m´ont été données

perdre des gens que j'aime, avoir une maladie grave

perdre quelqu'un de proche, me retrouver seule

une crise nucléaire, le terrorisme


I was very interested by this sentence completion. Like many of the other comparisons we've done, I think this one drives home how much more abstract the French tend to be in their thinking. On the American list, many of the things listed were concrete fears that you can gauge very easily, like failure, animals, heights, etc. The french list, on the other hand, listed many things that can only be gauged on a personal basis, like not finding what truly makes you happy, or losing loved ones, or having regrets.

I found it fascinating that several French students mentioned as their greatest fears large scale global issues such as terrorism, global warming, and a nuclear crisis, while no American students listed any concerns of impending current issues such as these. I thought this was quite interesting as it could imply that Americans, in general, are more focused on themselves/their own personal issues than the world around them.

I found that most of the fears listed by the French were events or situations, such as a nuclear attack or losing a loved one. The American list had a lot more feelings, like disappointment, failure, being lonely, and emotional torment. It's also kind of interesting that nuclear attack and terrorism didn't appear at all on the American list. It's not what I expected.

I found that for the Americans, there were a lot more instances involving loneliness and professions while most of the French responses seemed to surround losing others more. I also found it interesting that many of the American responses included "leading an ordinary life," while the French never mentioned anything like that.

I found it interesting that the American students mentioned a greater number of concrete fears, such as that of heights, or animals, etc. However, the french seemed to have more intangible things dealing with love, or happiness, or regrets. I also thought it was interesting that the American students repeatedly mentioned failure on their lists. Maybe this is because there is a great importance placed on sucess in the US

Pour elizabeth :
En effet, je pense que cela reflete bien la mentalite americaine qui fait des Etats Unis un pays tres centre sur lui meme. Je trouve cela dommage. Les Etats Unis ne sont pas seuls au monde. Je pense qu'il faudrait que les Americains s'en inquietent un peu plus, avant d'etre surpris, par exemple, par les attentats du 11 Septembre, ou ils ont eu l'impression que le ciel leur tombait sur la tete. J'ai une question : pourquoi ne vous sentez pas plus concernes par le terrorisme ou les catastrophes naturelles ? Vous etes pourtant habitues a gerer les tremblements de terre...

Monique: encore une fois je dois dire que je pense que nous sommes plus pudiques vis a vis de nos sentiments, que l'on n'en parle pas facilement.

Presque tous les eleves americains craignent l'echec dans leur vie, ou de perdre son ambition et sa confidence en soi. Je crois que les Americains veulent tous devenir "Americain Hero", et "all by myself". Par contre, beaucoup, voire trop de francais ont peur de se retrouver tout seul, de perdre des gens d'acote alors que aucun ne parle de son succes individuel. Esc-qu'ils sont plus affectifs et moins individuels, moins ambitieux que les Americains?

For Alexis: I completely agree with you. I think it is frightening in itself that so many Americans lack concern for such large-scale catastrophes that we seem to be hurtling towards at an alarming rate. However, I think that, this being a country so driven by the media, we are inundated with cautions of these occurrences on a daily basis and so we tend to look the other way. We begin to become numb to these things after a while. And I believe that unfortunately, it is not until something really bad happens again, that we will resume the fears and concerns we had for these threats, say, as we did immediately following September 11th. I think it is a part of human nature, at least in our culture, to try to subconsciously block out such incomprehensible things, when, in actuality, we should be facing them now more than ever. What is your take on the French views of this?