My greatest worry ...

Ce qui me préoccupe le plus ... the future. Not knowing what lies ahead may seem daunting at times.

is being just average

is failing out of MIT or not being successful when I graduate,.

is that Europe soon collapses under Socialism and Political Correctness.

is that his country will go to the dogs because of mismanagement.

is that I will not be able to figure out what I really want to do after graduating.

is that I will not be successful.

is that I will not lead a happy life.

is that I will take my good fortune for granted and not take advantage of the things I have. I don't want to waste all of the opportunities I have been given.

is that I won't be able to live the way I imagine, as it is easy to think of something, but harder to execute the action. For example, I would like to start a foundation for students and I would like to donate to organizations and so forth, but it's much easier said than done.

is that I won't be successful in life

is that I won't do as well as I need to and I will fail.

is that I won't find a job that I like. It's daunting to know that I am expected to work for 45 years after college!

is that I won't find the situation/lifestyle later on that makes me the most happy.

is that I won't get a job, I will fail a class, or that something bad to happen to one of my family or friends.

is that I'll never find true love.

is that Mitt Romney will be elected and Obamacare will be repealed.

Is that we'll start losing our humanity to the likes of "social" media.

is to do what is truly right for me

is worrying too much.

that I won't be able to find a job after graduation.

c'est de trouver un stage et un sujet de mémoire.

c'est l'avenir.

c'est la crise et le chômage.

c'est ma famille

c'est ma petite personne.

est mon avenir professionnel.

est mon futur.

est mon travail

l'avenir des futures générations et le droit des animaux


l'organisation de mon mariage

la situation politique

ma carrière professionnelle,
mes amis,
ma famille

ma santé, ma famille, mon avenir.

ma soutenance de thèse, mon futur proche, mes frères et soeurs

mon avenir professionnel et plus largement, l'injustice du monde dans lequel nous vivons.

mon avenir!! un contrat doctoral!

pour l'instant est ma réussite professionelle.

sont mes moyens financiers limités cette année.

valider le M2


It was really interesting to see the cultural differences in the responses to this question! A few trends that I noticed:

-- All of the American responses dealt more with the future/long-term concerns, whereas the French responses, although the word "future" came up a lot, dealt more with present/short-term concerns.

-- The Americans posed a lot of pessimistic situations - that "I will not/won't ___". Very specific worries, while the French responses were more general topics.

-- Lots of French responses included other people (family, friends, significant others, etc.), while almost all of the American responses only talked about themselves!

-- The French were a lot more worried about their actual jobs/schooling, while we were more worried, I would say, about finding happiness in our job/future situation. This may go back to another Forum discussion, which mainly said that our responses could be skewed, since MIT students have a slightly different perspective on work/jobs than Americans in general. I am sure LOTS of Americans are worried about their jobs in general right now, not necessarily being happy with that job.

Lots of good trends here! It seems like the French are more present-thinking and optimistic than we are - is that true? Also, is it French culture to put others first? What are some purely personal goals that the French worry about?

As you said Meera, most of the American responses were mainly concerned with themselves, while many of the French responses concerned family, friends, and others.


However I was wondering if this was due to the wording of the phrases.  The translations of English and French for this phrase seem to be not as similar as some of the other phrases.  I wonder if this possibly caused some discrepancies between the responses.


Personally when I think of the word "worry", I think of a smaller personal concern rather than a more general concern.  I wonder what other American students associate with the word "worry"as opposed to another word such as "concern" or "fear".  

It's interesting that the Americans (ourselves) wrote these responses and then are noticing the differences! I, too, noticed that the French seemed to list more words that dealt with others around them while the Americans were more worried about their immediate future, for example. In addition, I found it was interesting that a similar number of students talked about their professions/jobs.

I think this word comes back to the idea of context, since, as students, our responses logically relate to our future/careers. It makes sense that the responses would change if you sampled students versus single mothers versus children. 

I do think it's interesting that the French seem more concerned with their loved ones than we do (based solely on our responses). Is that true in general of the French? Or was that a coincidence?

I found it very interesting that some of the Frech responses were related to the political situation, the economy, and even the environment. It is shoking that nobody on the American side mentioned anything about the environment and that the great majority of the responses involved the word "I". 

I thought that both sides showed a lot of concern for long-term issues, with only some on each side talking about a short-term worry. 

I would love to know what the French students think about this comment: "my greatest worry is that we'll start losing our humanity to the likes of social media". That could become a very interesting topic for discussion.

Le commentaire de Zachary concernant la formulation de la phrase en français et en anglais est intéressant car la formulation français laisse le champ libre à toutes les préoccupations, quelles soient politiques, religieuses, sociétales, etcmais elle n'est pas orientée spécifiquement vers sa situation personnelle. Il semble que la formulation anglaise le soit plus.


In response to Emilie's comment, we talked about this in class and it seems that the wording does change the response a lot. For Americans, the phrase "my greatest worry" stresses personal topics. Perhaps if it had been reworded as "what concerns me", the answers might have been a little different and more similar to what the French students said. In addition, while the Americans do stress individualism, I don't think this means that they don't worry about their friends, family, peers, and so forth. Rather, the wording of the question seems to ask about our immediate/urgent concerns.

Yes, in class we found it difficult to get the wording exactly right...

Another comment - in class, we were having a different discussion about cafe culture in France...that people go there to just sit and relax, to enjoy a beverage and not worry about anything for a short while. I really appreciate that that is so accepted/the norm there! Here (especially at MIT, but also in big cities/larger towns), everyone is always in a go-go-go mindset with so many worries, but also with no breaks! 

Obviously both sides seem to have a good number of worries.  In the United States, my impression of most Americans is that most people seem to constantly be worried about the state of things right now, particularly with the recent recession.  This is my impression from reading the news and seeing media online and on tv.  


For the students in France: would you say or generalize that the French people have many worries or worry often?  I am curious if worrying is an American past time or a part of human nature.

It's true what Meera said that in the US most people have a "go" mindset and do not sit and relax. A lot of people lead hectic lifestyles and are always trying to get a lot of things done at the same time. Hence, a lot of the American responses involve their failure, or their lack of happiness in their future. I think that the French ponder a bit more on issues concerning not only themselves, but issues on a more global scale as well. 


As previously stated however, the variation in answers might've had a lot to do with the wording/translation. 

There seems to be a lot of different opinios about whether the American side is more concerned about things in the near future or long term. I believe Zach thinks Americans worry more about the state of things right now, but from what I remeber Meera thinks the French are more concerned about short term goals. I belive both are quite similar in that aspect. What do you think?

Although the American responses seem very worried about the immediate future, part of that perhaps is our age. We have a lot to figure out in terms of careers/future jobs. And I think the French answers reflected that age bias as well. It would be interesting to ask middle-aged adults what their greatest worries are.

Clarissa, je crois que nous sommes tous assez concernés par le futur proche parce que nous sommes étudiants, et peut-être que dans quelques années, nous envisagerons un futur plus loin, non? Sur le fait que les Français mettent leurs familles, amis, ou autres précoccupations en avant, je pense (à voir ce que les autres Français vont répondre) que c'est tout simplement une coincidence en faveur des Français mais je ne pense pas que les Américains soient plus égoistes parce qu'ils ont répondu plus égocentriquement!

Laurence has a point! We are all always worried about the same things: health, future, people who are close to us. Maybe the phrasing would be different, but the main idea is still the same!

Agreed with Adrian! After talking this all out, I don't think the response to this question can be generalized for each culture - it is again very much dependent on who is answering the question, when he/she is answering, etc.

I still find interesting, though, the difference in how the American and French students responded. To me it seemed like the French responses were short, general phrases (my future, my professional success, politics, my job/school, etc.), whereas for the Americans, the worries were a little more specific/detailed/imaginitive. We weren't just worried about "my future", but we were worried that "I won't get a job, I will fail a class, or that something bad to happen to one of my family or friends," or that "I will take my good fortune for granted." We just sounded a bit more dramatic/worried about our worries. :P 

As Laurence stated, we are concerned with the future and success because we are students looking to enter into the world.  I wonder how much the responses would differ if the survey was completed by middle-aged adults.  I believe that the American responses would be somewhat different.  As for the French responses, I do not know how different they might be.


What do you all think?

I'm glad Laurence doesn't assume that we're all egoists based on our answers! I definitely think our answers are biased because we're young students, living away from our families. 

I think that some of the american responses are due to the pressures of MIT where you're supposed to be succesful, you're supposed to get a good job, you're supposed to be happy. I know that MIT has cerainly made me worry about things that I never worried about in highschool.