My greatest fears

Mes plus grandes craintes

and what happens or does not happen after.

and terrorism.


losing a loved one, and not being financially and socially
successful in the future.


organic chemistry and death

dishonor, embarrassment


harm to
my family

of human beings.

my family, losing my friends, to die

future and my feelings.

achieving my goals.

living up to my own expectations.

succeeding in life.

succeeding in my career and not finding someone to marry.

of not

of not
succeeding at something.

pain, heights.

that my
life will seem worthless

that I
may never fall in love again, or that I may perish in a terrorist

that I
will not be a success in life, that I will waste my talents.

that I
will not be able to find a good job when I graduate from MIT.

that I
will not be peaceful

that I
will not do well in school, won't get a good job, won't get
married, won't have a family, will die alone.

that I
won't be able to find a job

loss of a loved one

unknown, failure, being out of control.

to be

die,to lose my parents or my friends

unjustice, both personal and
massive; being a victim of violence

de ne pas être

de ne pas pouvoir
donner un sens a ma vie,de passer a cote des autres ,de faire du
mal a ceux qui m aime

de perdre mes
proches, de devenir une étrangère pour eux, et au
vu des circonstances, une guerre

de perdre un être
cher, d'être gravement malade

de vivre seul

de voir
disparaître une personne que j'aime

la guerre civile
en France contre les musulmans pour des raisons externes.

la guerre et l

la maladie,

la mer,les cafards

la mort

la mort car tant
qu'il y a de la vie il y a de l'espoir. une soirée avec
des parisiens qu'on ne connaît pas.

la mort, la guerre

la mort,la

la perte de mes
proches, décevoir

la perte de

la politique
extérieure américaine

la situation en
afganistan,le futur

la solitude et

les conséquences
des politiques occidentales actuelles

les guerres et les

liées à
l'avenir géo-politique international

liées à
la guerre qui pourrait dégénérer



une guerre mondiale, la perte de quelqu'un
que je connais


- 10:11am
Oct 18, 2001



of 19)

It appears that the results of the sentence completions for "My Greatest Fears..." are very much related to the results for "The Most Significant Event..." The most frequent American response, once again, are concerning success...the fear of failure and not succeeding, whereas, unsurprisingly, the most frequent French response was the fear of losing a loved one. Is it really as cut and dry that: the French value more familial aspects of life while the Americans value the more materialistic, professional aspects of life?

I also found interesting the fact that the second highest response from the French was the fear of war, while the Americans did not even mention that fear once. I guess the current situation has developed a profound fear across the globe, but could it also be because before September 11th, Americans had never really questioned the nation's security because we had drilled into our minds that feeling of invincibility? Could it be that we are almost too confident that we will prevail in this war against terrorism and Bin Laden that we do not even consider that a fear at such a crucial time in history? On the other hand, is it because the French have consistently worried about civil wars that they fear the idea of war so much? Can this all be related to the differences in the stability of the French and American government? ~Shirley

- 01:43pm
Oct 18, 2001



of 19)

After reading the responses, I feel embarrassed at how shallow & selfish we Americans sound. So many American students wrote that their greatest fear is not succeeding, while only one French student put that down. It seems that the French students fear grave life-and-death situations more than simply lacking material success, as fears about losing loved ones, world war, and dying abounded on the list of French responses. I'll echo Shirley's question: are Americans really that materialistic? Although, I suppose it really depends on what kind of success the responses referred to. But in the word association responses to the word success, American students didn't list money/power/professional-type success much more than the French did. Maybe Americans take it for granted until they really think about it ... I don't know, let me know what you think!

Also, I guess I found it strange that so many of the American students are afraid of not succeeding in terms of a job. We're at MIT! We're not stupid, although this school may make us feel like that sometimes. I personally am not that scared about material success (maybe because I'm only a sophomore so it's still a few more years until I'm out in the real world) ... is everyone else afraid they won't get jobs because of the state of the economy at this point in time? French students, do you feel that you're almost guaranteed a good job seeing as how you worked so hard to get into INT? I guess I'm not sure if this is a question of confidence in one's abilities or if it's a matter of how the job market is in our respective countries.

- 07:12pm
Oct 18, 2001



of 19)

Je crois que la plupart des étudiants de l'INT ne se préoccupe pas trop du
travail qu'ils trouveront. La première raison est que nous avons encore trois
ans pour y penser. La deuxième est qu'en sortant de cette école, tout le monde
est sûr de trouver un emploi. Mais je pense que c'est la même chose pour les
étudients de MIT. Je ne vois pas trop comment en sortant d'une des universités
la plus réputée de votre pays vous ne trouverez pas un bon emploi. La différence
vient aussi peut-être du fait que certains d'entre vous sont extrement ambitieux
et veulent à tout prix briller par une carrière professionnelle fulgurante.
Personnellement, j'ai evidemment l'intention d'avoir un bon emploi, mais je
ne suis pas prête à tout sacrifier pour y arriver. Je sais qu'en France, après
avoir fait une Grande Ecole, on est sûr d'avoir un bon emploi. Cela rejoint
un peu ce que l'on a expliqué sur les élites. Les elites sont ceux qui ont fait
les plus grandes écoles.Nous ne sommes donc pas trop inquiet à ce sujet.

- 10:42pm Oct
18, 2001



of 19)

Several American students have pointed out that American responses seem more selfish than that of French students. I do not believe this is the case. I simply think it is a different point of reference. It seems students at MIT are more preoccupied about short-term matters while INT students are more worried about long-term and future things. Afterall, is being afraid of death not pure selfishness? Even the loss of MY loved ones has a certain selfish undertone to it. Also, the greater importance of individualism for MIT students is once more highlighted. While French students seem worried with being lonely or losing people to whom they feel close (notice the emphasis on relationships with others), MIT students do not attach so much importance to this, since being on one's own is not necessarily regarded as a negative thing, but perhaps as something necessary in achieving one's own goals.

I wonder whether the fear of war comes from the effect of the 2nd World War, which still lives in the conscience of all of us Europeans.

- 11:56pm Oct
18, 2001



of 19)

OK, I just saw Gerardo's message, and I guess mine is going to echo it a bit:


I wouldn't criticize American students too much for apparently being
selfish and self-preoccupied. After all, what else could they worry
about? In the United States life is comfortable, the
economy is strong, the opportunities abound... There is a
feeling that you only need to work hard, and you'll suceed in life -
there are so many paths, and you just need to choose. Besides, there is
no (or there was no) major threat to the national security of the
world's most powerful country, the level of individual liberties and rights
of the citizens has no match in any other place... The problems of the
society one is aware of on a daily basis are minimized (except perhaps
the crime rate).
This lack of a global problem that seriously affects the
(everyday) lives of people probably causes them to turn more to themselves and
their own goals/aspirations.

(Another question is whether such self-immersion can hamper
noticing a major problem arising.)

Here nothing prevents you from advancing in life except your own
limits. It is an amazing feeling, but also a great
responsibility. You need to make decisions to shape your life, and you
need to push yourself to succeed. This is especially true for
students. Once you get into MIT, you don't stop: you have to choose
your classes, your major, your career, get good grades, do research,
get an internship (which includes going to career fairs, sending out
resumes, interviewing, networking...), and so on. Nothing will come to you, you have to work for every single
thing, and you think you have to do it because that is the spirit:
seize every opportunity.

(It's in a way a vicious circle - you push yourself to succeed (to be
more competitive), but that drives the whole
atmosphere more competitive, which in return forces you to work even

Then no wonder that failure is so frequent among american answers.
Notice also the fears of being out of control, of not finding someone
to marry (the action verb being interesting), fear of one's own
feelings, of not being peaceful. There is a pressure of being in control of
one's own life.

The perspective of French students is much more global: they seem to
be concerned more about national and international affairs, people
around them, things out of their control, rather than themselves and
the things they can/should do, or change, or achieve.
This is very interesting, and I wonder how fundamental the difference is...

- 12:00pm
Oct 19, 2001



of 19)

en ce qui concerne les craintes des uns et des autres, il est surprenant de voir que les français sont mort de trouille à l'idée d'un déclenchement d'une guerre mondiale alors que les américains semblent plus préocupés par leur avenir(particulièrement professionnel)...toujours maitres du monde et des situations??

- 02:44pm
Oct 19, 2001



of 19)

Il semblerait en effet que les étudiants americains ne craignent pas une guerre. Pourtant, avec ce qui se passe en ce moment sur votre territoire, il y aurait des raisons de s'inquieter.
Comment percevez-vous le danger de l'anthrax. Est-ce que vous n'avait pas peur que cette maladie puisse vous toucher?

- 05:36pm
Oct 20, 2001



of 19)

I personally am not that scared about anthrax. Of course I'm aware of what's going on, but I can't live my life in fear. At this point, I'm slightly more afraid of another terrorist attack, because that would cause widespread destruction whereas sending envelopes of anthrax only affects a few people directly.

- 12:04am
Oct 21, 2001



of 19)

Salut Capucine,

In fact, so long as the anthrax is not "weaponized," then we have no real reason to fear, since it cannot be used to infect large numbers of people. That is, it has not been genetically modified or pulverized so that it floats for long distances in the air. On the other hand, if some other terrorist organization were to obtain "weaponized" anthrax, then 1 kg could kill hundreds of thousands of people (by just dumping it off a tall building). Yes, I am definitely afraid of that. If any of you would like to lose sleep at night with apocalyptic visions about bio weapons, chem weapons, or nukes, then I can recommend some "good" articles. Otherwise, as far as I'm concerned, and in this case *only*, ignorance is bliss. The less you know about this, the more easily you sleep at night.


- 11:59am Oct
21, 2001



of 19)


The anthrax is less scary than the fear of anthrax. There is a greater possibility of someone dying in a car accident then getting anthrax. Only 5 or 6 people have been infected, and only
1 has died, all the others will be ok. I think the media here has a big role in creating the scare. They always highlight negative things, and rarely say positive things. For example they say that someone got killed by anthrax, and someone is infected, but they do not report that often that the infected are fine and doing well, or that so many exposed are not infected. Also, the terrorists have been very strategic in sending the anthrax to the media and the Capitol.

Are people in France also afraid of anthrax or other bioterrorist attacks? What precautions are you guys taking? Are people hoarding antibiotics?

- 02:09pm Oct
21, 2001



of 19)

Pour moi, je trouve que la raison pour laquelle les français ont peur de la mort (soit de soi ou de de quelqu'un d'autre) est due à la sécurité sociale. Comme je suis un étranger, je trouve que les français visitent leur médicin pour la moindre chose. Et, les médicins prennent beaucoup soin de leurs patients, (jambe cassé = gros gros plâtre!) ce que je ne voit pas trop dans mon pays (Singapour). Peut-être c'est parce que tout n'est pas payant ici, donc les médicins peut donner plus "librement" les médicaments. Avec une telle couverture médicale, la mort devient une chose si loin et si étrange...

- 03:40am
Oct 22, 2001



of 19)

Dans vos réponses au questionnaire, vous semblez avoir très peur d'échouer alors que nous à l'INT on a beaucoup plus peur qu'un événement extérieur viennent troubler notre vie. Au MIT, vous prenez beaucoup plus vos responsabilités puisque ce dont vous avez le plus peur, c'est de ne pas être à la hauteur de vos ambitions, de décevoir. Nous, nous redoutons seulement des choses qui ne dépendent pas de nous (la guerre, la mort de proches...). Beaucoup de penseurs qui veulent que nous prenions les Etats-Unis pour modèle économique nous reprochent d'être déresponsabilisés par les aides sociales, par la rigidité et la sécurité (relative...) de notre marché du travail. Qu'en pensez-vous? il me semble en tout cas que les futurs leaders que vous êtes tous s'appuient avant tout sur eux-mêmes pour réussir. Comme on dit en français, il me semble que "vous en voulez!" (cela veut dire que vous êtes très volontaires)

- 08:35am
Oct 22, 2001



of 19)

Dire que nous ne sommes pas materialistes est peut-etre exagéré.En effet ne pensez vous pas que la peur de mourir est liée a la peur de ne plus exister et que cela traduit peut-etre la desaffection religieuse française ?Ainsi d'une certaine maniere cette angoisse face a la mort ne serait-elle pas la preuve d'une crise spirituelle ,qui aboutirait vers un materialisme encore plus puissant?Qu'en est-il aux Etats-Unis? Etes vous un peuple tres croyant?Est ce que vous voyez la religion comme une force qui vous rassemble ou vous divise?Les generations avant la votre sont elles plus ferventes que vous ou au contraire?

- 08:45am Oct
22, 2001



of 19)

je ne crois pas que la peur de mourir traduit la 'desaffection religieuse francaise'. la desaffection religieuse est plutot due a l'augmentation du niveau de vie et des loisirs, et par voie de consequence une diminution du temps consacré a la religion (environ 0 minute pour la majorité d'entre nous). en revanche cette perte de croyance entraine tot ou tard un questionnement : la religion dit qu'apres la mort il y a quelque chose, alors que notre raison ne nous amene que des doutes, quoi que l'on dise. en ce sens je crois que c'est la 'desaffection religieuse' qui entraine la peur de la mort.

- 04:52pm
Oct 27, 2001



of 19)

I noticed that terrorism came up only a few times in the American responses and appeared more often as a French response, and this was completed after what happened in New York. Also, the fears given by the French students seemed a lot more general than those listed by American ctudents. Why is that?

- 10:35pm Oct
28, 2001



of 19)

This is in response to Anouck's message -
I don't think religion is a very unifying force in the United States, especially not now. On an individual level it may well help many of us through these fears of world war, anthrax, etc. But on a whole I think religion is in fact driving us apart. The US is an incredible mix of different religions and ethnic groups. Those of us who are very religious probably tend to regard each other with suspicion, especially on the brink of war driven by religious fundamentalism.

- 08:08pm
Nov 4, 2001



of 19)

Andrew > cette "peur" des attentats vient à mon avis des vagues d'attentats de 1995 et d'un certain plan Vigipirate créé à cette époque il me semble. Ce plan, remis en vigueur depuis les évènements du 11 septembre, a pour objectif de diminuer les risques d'attentats en renforçant la surveillance (on trouve par exemple des militaires avec mitraillettes et chiens dans les gares et les aéroports), mais à mon avis il renforce aussi la psychose des gens. Comme toujours, c'est à double tranchant ... En tout cas, les gens ont du mal à oublier les attentats comme ça !

- 03:46am Nov
5, 2001



of 19)

Il apparait nettement que les étudiants americains ont donné des réponses qui touchent plus leur famille ou leur propre personne.
Avec le recul, comment considerez-vous les attentats:
-un évenement qui peut toucher votre propre entourage ou plutot un pas de plus vers une guerre ???