United States


America, big, Declaration of Independence

Baseball, apple pie, the White House

big country, school abroad.

Big Mac, Obesity, Obama

blue, red, and white

Capitalism, freedom, diverse, powerful

capitalism, obesity, diverse, big

constitution, independence, democracy, freedom

cool, California, home, freedom

difficult, wasteful, free

fat, busy, new

free, vast, conflicted

freedom, liberty, home

fried chicken

hegemony, freedom, imperial


Home, Democracy, Freedom

Home, education, opportunity

home, huge, country

home, opportunity, diversity

money, control, government

Obama, Iraq, White House

obesity, career opportunities, diversity, racism

Power, intelligence, freedom

power, money, freedom

red, white, blue

statehood, English, university, industry

Strong, liberty, freedom, wealthy

super power; military; obama; obesity

uneducated, busy, diverse, frustrating

armée; technologies; immense

culture différente, Obama, musique, pollution

développement, musique, star, anglais

Football US, Maison blanche, Première puissance mondiale, Hamburger, Dollar, Amitié

hamburgers, statue de la liberté, espace

la statue de la liberté; New-York; la Maison Blanche; Bush

Las Vegas,
Statue de la liberté,
Rap US,

Las Vegas, hamburger, solidarité

liberté, New York, 9e avenue,

mac do, New-York, dollar

new-york, sport, la grandeur

new-york, statue de la liberté, los angeles

new-york; b.obama;

obama, los angeles, taxi, statue de la liberté

Obama, maison blanche, statue de la liberté

Obama, Musique, Fast food

Pays de la peine de mort

Président, liberté, avancé

Première puissance mondiale. Barack Obama. Obésité.

puissance, chopper, technologie, obésité

puissant, hamburger, statue de la liberté, obama

Statue de la Liberté, New York, hamburgers

Statue de la Liberté, New York, Maison Blanche

statue de la liberté, New York, maison blanche.

statut de la liberté, new york, musiques.

virgin megastore, 1ére économie mondiale


The responses of the French students were mostly focused on tourist attractions and more concrete physical symbols of the United States, such as the Statue of Liberty, New York, Barrack Obama, the White House, and hamburgers. The American students however responded the most with abstract ideas like freedom, home, and diversity. At the same time, the Americans were a lot more critical of their own country, using words like obesity and fat. I think this is a result of the prevailing attitude of Americans to be a bit cynical, which can be seen not only in this questionnaire, but in the other ones too.

I wonder, if it's true that the most common image of the United States that the French have is New York and the Statue of Liberty, seeing as how these were the majority of responses. Or even more interestingly enough, why does Las Vegas show up so often, because I've never thought of Vegas when thinking of the US. 

The French see America in different ways. Their is the tourist attraction that is the United States, and there is the global super-power that is the USA. The French seem to have a favorable tone when speaking about America, it would seem that Obama's rise to power has made America more likeable. American's see their country in a more absract way, using words like "freedom", "liberty," and "capitalism." To Americans the country is an idea; it is red, white, and blue; it is a land for all, not just New York or Las Vegas.

It is funny how so many of the French students associate the United States with New York, a single city that is not at all representative of the character of the rest of the country.  (Then again, the only city that the Americans seemed to recall in their words associated with France was Paris.  Nevertheless, many of the French students did the same.)  However, what struck me the most is that while so many Americans think of the United States as their home, in my understanding not one of the French students referred to home when speaking of France.  How do you all see your country, if not as your home?  What are your feelings towards it?  As a Puerto Rican, I am an American citizen, yet have also grown up in a Latinamerican culture and lack the full rights of an American citizen.  Therefore, this whole concept of national identity is one that I have come up against my whole life, and it would be interesting to hear a new 'point de vu' on the matter!



It is interesting to notice that the French seem to appreciate the American culture more than the very Americans. However, the French also have an image of the US as being a powerful country, but its connotation is not clear.  The most recurrent words for the Americans were freedom and home, which shows a deeply rooted nationalism and patriotism.  Not a single touristic landmark was mentioned by the Americans as an important part of their nation, whereas for the French these touritic spots constituted the main connection with the US.

It is very interesting that the words of the French students refer mostly to places and concrete objects, whereas the most common words by the American students are abstract ideas.

The French students seem to have a very narrow view of what the United States are about. New York is not a fair representation of the rest of the country at all. And while the American cuisine is nowhere near as sophisticated as the French cuisine, there's things to eat other than hamburgers and fast food and mac-do. 

But then again, I wouldn't necessarily say that New York coming to mind when they think of the US is a bad thing. New York is a great city where people go to make things happen for themselves, and it's a really diverse city in terms of the people who live there. 

Contrairement aux réponses en rapport avec la France, les mots concernants les Etats-Unis sont beaucoup plus diversifiées du côté des Américain, alors que les réponses Francaises sont plutôt semblables.

Il est vrai que les Français ont beaucoup tendance à associé les Etats-Unis à New-York, la statue de la liberté, la maison blanche, les hamburgers et l'obésité.

Les Américains utilisent beaucoup plus d'adjectifs, et de mots plus abstraits, pour qualifier leurs pays.

Je suis d'accord avec Milena, car il est vrai qu'il ne faut pas forcement assimiler les Etat-Unis à New-York, ou même les Hamburgers, car l'Amerique est un pays beaucoup plus complet.

Je pense que si les Francais ont répondus par ces mots, c'est parce que les Etats-Unis ont en France, trop souvent, une image du pays ou on ne mange que des hamburgers, ou l'on ne boit que du Coca, alors que les Américains cuisinent beaucoup également.


Enfin, New york et la statue de la liberté sont souvent les premières pensées d'un Francais lorsqu'on lui parle des Etats-Unis, car c'est une sorte de " centre du monde " , la ou l'économie mondiale est très impliquer, et bien sur, New York est la ville de nombreux grands films Américains.

Je suis tout à fait d'accord avec Jose, les Français ont donné une vision plutôt matérialiste des Etats-Unis alors que les Américains eux-même sont resté très vastes.

Un des plus gros stéréotype qui existe à propos des Américains est qu'ils sont matérialistes, ce qui ne se retrouvent absolument pas dans vos listes. Comment l'expliquez-vous ?

Les americaines sont plus approndis que les francais.Je pense c'est parce que ils connaissent mieux les Etat-unis.

To respond to Alice, I think there are a lot of stereotypes of Americans that do not appear on these lists, or at least not that frequently. On the top of my head, I can name quite a few stereotypes: obese, materialistic like you said, consumeristic, individualistic to a fault, obnoxious (as tourists, for example). But the reason why I didn't write these is probably because they aren't what I think of when I see "America." Despite the overall tendency to be cynical, I think Americans want to believe in the best of their country. Everyone has their own unique feelings about what it is to be American and that shows in the variety of responses. The fact that so many people replied "home" reveals that Americans view their country in terms of very personal connections and experiences, not always the grand ideals and universal images--whether they are criticism or praise. So, on the list of priorities, although materialism is a common idea about the United States, people don't define their idea of America on its materialism.    

Although Americans abroad are usually tagged as "ignorant," I think Americans do have a lot of pride. Ideals such as freedom, diversity, and opportunities may sound cliche, but those are ideals that every American deeply believes in. I cannot think of another country where the idea of a self-made man is as celebrated. I think some of this may have to do with the fact that America is a young country in a sense that our history is very short relative to countries in europe, asia, and the middle east. 


Also in response to Alice, I agree with Kathy--I think we explained our impression of America as a country more than we did our impression of American people.  I also think that many of us would readily admit that some stereotypes are true (which is why obesity appeared a few times in American descriptions of America), but we are reluctant to acknowledge some other stereotypes.  This is probably partially because, even if we agree that the stereotypes may be true of many Americans, we don't think they apply to ourselves individually; therefore, we are less likely to mention them. 

I think that everyone raised some very interesting points. In reading the comments, it made me wonder whether in the background, the American students expressed what their vision of what America could be more than the reality and at various points, the current state of our country may have bled in but on the whole it seems we were optimistic.

And for the French associations, it isn't surprising at all some of the trends that were revealed. I think it speaks more to the fact that it's extremely difficult to know a country that you haven't visited or spent time becoming familiar with so the knee-jerk reaction is to rely on stereotypes which I don't think is bad as long as people are willing to adjust their assesments to reflect reality.

slt c'est vrai que les français parle bocoup de la sratut de la liberté et de new york,cette ville est un peu plus cinnu que les autres partout dans le monde je crois mais à propos de Las vegas je crois que c'est la ville de la fète?je ne pourrai pas te dire grand chose sur l'avis des français car je suis gabonaise et je viens d'arriver en France.Je peux juste te dire que je trouve new york plus interessant que Las vegas..car j'aurai pas assez des ous pour faire des folies à las vegas

Je pense que les américains sont fier de leur pays, fierté que l'on ne retrouve pas dans les descriptions du mot France chez les francais. Beaucoup d'américais pensent à leur maison, de leur couleur lorsque on évoque les USA en revanche les francais parlent des clichets francais comme paris, les aspects culinaires de la france etc...

On retrouve beaucoup le mot "freedom" dans la déscriptions des USA par les américains, ce qui m'a beaucoup étonné car de nos jours nombreux sont les pays libre. Pourquoi un tel impact aux USA ?



I noticed that the responses from the US about the US were more realistic, whereas the responses from France about the US were more touristic.  Both countries seemed to have again a touristic/cultural opinion about France.  However, in the case of Europe, the US remarked the culture while France had a more realistic view.  Can anyone comment on that? I thought it was interesting that the French would think like the americans, not about their own country, but about the bigger complex entity that is Europe.

Kathy et Hillary je vous remercies pour vos réponses. C'est vrai que vu comme ça vos réponses aux questionnaires semblent plus logiques.

L'obésité est quand même très présente dans les questionnaires et sur les forums. Comment expliquez-vous ce phénomène et vous sentez-vous touchés ?

On a vu beaucoup de mots en rapport avec la première puissance mondiale, mais j'ai une question.

Pensez vous, qu'avec toutes les autres puissances émergentes, la crise qui a frappé le monde, les changements de mentalités du XXIeme siecle et bien d'autres facteurs encore, que les Etats Unis pourront rester la 1ere puissance mondiale ? Pensez vous que les Etats Unis étaient a leur apogée,et qu'il auront tendance a baissé, ou que justement, ils vont dans les années a venir, être encore plus performant ?

J'ai toujours eu une visions des Etats-Unis comme un pays où les gens ont une solidarité entre eux sans faille ( ce que j'admire). Mais aussi un pays où la religion à une grande place. Ma vision de votre pays est-elle réaliste? 

Je pense que si la vision des francais de l'amérique est plus culturelle car beaucoup d'entre nous n'ont pas eu la chance d'aller sur le territoire américain il est donc difficile de se faire une vision réaliste des USA. De plus étant donné que les USA font beaucoup parler d'eux meme grace aux médias, il est tres facil pour nous francais de nous mettre en tete des images qui ne collent peut-être pas du tout à la réalité

Même si dans le questionnaire cela ne ressort pas, je pense que les français n'ont pas une vision des USA aussi bonne qu'on le pense. Pour moi la crédibilité des Etats-Unis a été remise en cause avec la guerre en Irak. Que pensez-vous de cette guerre? Etes-vous d'accord?


Hello Estelle. You raise an interesting question. I would say that religion continues to play a very large role in our country. For example, I don't think that an atheist candidate would never be elected to presidential office and as much as the US constitution declares that there should be a division between church and state, I think it's taken as a recommendation than a strict rule. 

Hey Julien. you also raise an interesting point. I think that within the past couple of years, more and more Americans have been feeling that several other countries are rising to power. I think it has scared people since for so long we have believed that we lived in a bubble that seems impenetrable to the outside world. 

Hello Anthony. I think you share the same feelings that many Americans do concerning the war in Iraq and I believe the general consensus has been unhappiness with many of the choices of former President Bush including devoting the number of lives that have been lost in the endless War in Iraq. Personally, I believe that way too many countries blindly go to war when it should only be an absolute last resort (as occurred in this situation).

In response to Alice's question about obesity...

I think the obesity phenomenon can be explained, very simplistically of course, by looking at how American culture is obsessed with more. Americans come off to me as a bit greedy perhaps, like they always want more than they already have, and this attitude extends to their eating habits. In general, I look at other countries and the way people there eat and the portions seem to be smaller and people savor their food more, whereas here it's all about eating larger portions until one is stuffed. Also, a lot of restaurants serve bigger portions than one would normally eat because the customers like feeling like they are getting their money's worth. Of course, as portion size goes up, quality goes down... Eating a lot is one aspect of American culture that I, as a Puerto Rican, can't say I've embraced much.

In any event, I find the obesity epidemic to be ridiculous. Not only is it a bit gross to think of what people put into their bodies to get them to that state, but also it's incredibly unhealthy. And lately there's been this whole movement about empowering bigger people and helping them feel more comfortable with their bodies. I think it's perfectly fine to promote healthy self-esteem and have people embrace their body shape because there's not just one body type that's the right one, there's many different body types that I would call beautiful and having some extra pounds on you is good if you're healthy... But some people take it too far and I don't think that being extremely obese is something that should be accepted and embraced at all. So maybe as a society we're sort of promoting obesity,albeit indirectly, when we encourage everyone to just accept their bodies the way they are instead of advocating that people who are morbidly obese do something to improve their health.

Salut Macdaleine, merci pour ta réponse !

Car en effet je pensais par exemple à la Chine, l'Inde, le Brésil et même l'Europe, qui a de plus en plus sa place je pense. Pense tu qu'il serait mieux pour le monde d'avoir plusieurs puissances dominantes, plutôt que juste les Etats Unis ? Pense tu que Obama puisse réussir a redresser les Etats Unis après la crise ?

Milena, merci pour ta réponse très complète.

Je ne suis jamais allée aux EU, mais ce qu'on en voit à la télé ce sont effectivement des restaurants qui privilégie la quantité plutôt que la qualité..

En france il existe des restaurants qui, au contraire, font ce qu'on apelle chez nous de la Gastronomie, c'est-à-dire privilégier la qualité et l'aspect à la quantité, cependant le prix devient assez élevé..

Avez-vous ce genre de restaurants aussi ?

Merci Macdaleine pour cette réponse franche,

Je suis totalement d'accord avec toi, je trouve que la guerre en Irak était la solution la plus facile et la plus accessible pour Bush à utiliser alors que cette solution ne devrait être choisit qu'en dernier recours! Je ne comprend pas pourquoi il n'a pas retenu la leçon des guerres atroces que nous avons connus en France avec les deux guerres mondiales, et que vous avez connus avec la guerre du Viêtnam particulièrement marquant pour les Américains!