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Thanksgiving: More Americans Travel to Europe Despite the Weak Dollar


Western Europe, which is the fourth most popular travel destination for Americans, has increased its share of Thanksgiving bookings this year by 9.5 percent, according to Travelocity data. Eastern Europe, where the dollar goes a bit farther than in cities like Paris and London, saw a 24.6 percent surge in its share of bookings, Travelocity said. U.S. airlines are seeing similar trends in international travel for the 12-day Thanksgiving holiday rush.

Academic Updates

1. Update for the Atlantic Review post Study Abroad Programs Questioned:
According to Indystar and the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York attorney general has issued five subpoenas in this matter, with more to come. Among the companies under investigation are the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University; the American Institute for Foreign Study; the Institute for the International Education of Students; the Center for Education Abroad at Arcadia University; and the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, affiliated with the University of Copenhagen.

2. Update for More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum:
Australia has recently granted asylum to three former Iraqi diplomats, but its foreign minster has since stated that this did not create any precedent, reports the

Western Music in Tehran

"A German orchestra will play Beethoven and Brahms in Tehran in a rare visit by a European ensemble amid tension between Iran and the West," writes The Washington Post:

The 60-member Osnabrueck Symphony Orchestra led by conductor Hermann Baeumer will perform Wednesday and Thursday as part of an exchange that saw the Tehran Symphony Orchestra perform to a packed hall last year in Osnabrueck. (...)
Some hard-line clerics say music comes between the faithful, and God and leads to impure thoughts, therefore being incompatible with the Shiite school of Islam that rules Iran. Secular songs were banned as un-Islamic, and in the early 1980s, police stopped cars to check tape decks and smashed offending tapes. In the 1990s, music gradually made a comeback in Iran under the then reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. Then in December 2005, the hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced a ban on Western music on state radio and television.

Do you approve of the German orchestra's concert as some contribution to possible change in Iran or do you disapprove because Iran should be isolated at this point because of its current policies and because musical exchanges won't lead to change anyway?

Study Abroad Programs Questioned

"As overseas study has become a prized credential of the undergraduate experience, a competitive, even cutthroat, industry has emerged, with an army of vendors vying for student money and universities moving to profit from the boom," writes the International Herald Tribune:

At many campuses, study abroad programs are run by multiple companies and nonprofit institutes that offer colleges generous perks to sign up students: free and subsidized travel overseas for officials, back-office services to defray operating expenses, stipends to market the programs to students, unpaid membership on advisory councils and boards, and even cash bonuses and commissions on student-paid fees. This money generally goes directly to colleges, not the students who take the trips. [.] To promote their preferred providers, many colleges require students to use them, sometimes denying financial aid or credit to students taking alternate routes, even at top-tier universities.

Critics say that these perks, "which are seldom disclosed, typically limit student options and drive up prices for gaining international credentials compared with the most economical alternative - enrolling directly in a foreign university, paying generally lower tuition to that institution and having the credits transferred. Continue reading "Study Abroad Programs Questioned"

Frustrated by Anti-Americanism, US Exchange Students Try to Change German Attitudes

"US students are having a hard time in Germany, as they find themselves having to justify Washington policy from day to day. A new pilot project in German schools is meant to help Americans deal with the endless drill" writes Jan Friedmann in Spiegel:
Despite his affinity for German culture, Janssen has hardly been welcomed with open arms. "I don't like having to play diplomat here," he complains. Many of the roughly 3,200 US students enrolled in foreign study programs in Germany share Janssen's experience. They are reluctant ambassadors, routinely taken to task by students and even complete strangers for the perceived offences of their government at home -- an affront that visiting students and academics from China, Russia and Arab countries rarely encounter.
Continue reading "Frustrated by Anti-Americanism, US Exchange Students Try to Change German Attitudes"

Ryanair Plans to Offer Transatlantic Flights for 10-12 Euros

The Times:
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary promised £7 tickets to the US and Southwest Airlines, the American pioneer of no-frills travel, signalled its intention to start flying to the UK. The prospect of cheap flights from London to New York will revive memories of Freddie Laker’s ultimately doomed challenge to the flag carriers 30 years ago. However, liberalisation of air travel through last month’s “open skies” agreement promises to revolutionise transatlantic travel. Ryanair, Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier, yesterday unveiled plans to offer flights to Baltimore, Rhode Island and New York for as little as 10-12 euros each way, but the service is likely to face stiff competition.
Personal comment: If ticket prices indeed drop a lot, that would promote more transatlantic travels, personal exchanges and mutual understanding and might decrease Anti-Americanism and Euro-Bashing. More flights, however, would also be bad news for climate protection efforts.

How To Talk to Americans

Daniel Mark Harrison, a financial journalist and Englishman in New York, describes the 12 "most subtle but important mistakes English people and Europeans in particular make when they come to America. In fact, I think on many levels, these are some of the reasons for break-downs in political and business communications between the USA and the EU."
According to him, a bit more cultural awareness would
help European economies and improve transatlantic relations: "Building our trans-atlantic political and economic alliances to create a power center which is capable of doing bigger and better things is exactly what both Europe and the United States should be striving for."
1. Assume that your typically understated demeanor will be recognized and admired by your American colleagues.
2. Politely respond to the question "how are you doing?" with a brief "fine, thanks" and walk away shyly without engaging in much further dialog.
3. Try to exaggerate an overseas experience for dramatic effect. Or, for that matter, underestimate the intelligence of your American companion.
4. Seize every point an American colleague is saying in a debate by analyzing and deconstructing his/her sentence structure word-by-word and pointing out the flaws in his/her logic
5.  Hold back on sharing fairly intimate/personal stories on a first meeting.
6. Assume that anyone who is on some kind of anti-depressant or who has been on one/several is insane and that you shouldn't talk to them.
7. Assume that every American is pro-war in Iraq.
8. Assume that because wealth is greatly admired and sought after in the United States, your inherited wealth will be similarly admired.
9. Draw parallels between European pre-industrial revolution colonialism and America's post-world war II involvement in world economies and politics.
10. Make assumptions about America or American people based on what you have seen on Hollywood movies.
11. Assume that once you've been to one part of America you know it all.
12. Be afraid to ask for a pay rise.
He explains all of this Do NOT advice in detail in his blog Global Perspective. I disagree with several of his explanations and consider some of his advice obvious or not helpful, but some is quite interesting. Just my personal opinion, of course.

What is your advice? What should Europeans avoid in conversations with Americans? What should Americans avoid in conversations with Europeans?  Not the obvious stuff, but the "hidden" dangers of putting one's foot in it (ins Fettnaepfchen treten).
Or more positively put: What is the best way to impress Americans/Europeans, i.e. give a good first impression? Yeah, I know, tough question and very generalized. It all depends on the situation and the individual. Americans and Europeans have probably more in common than differences. Thus making a good impressing on an American or European is not so different. What do you think? Any tips to share?

Related: The American blogger Scot has some great advice for Germans in his blog USA Erklaert: "Warum Amerikaner (Briten, Kanadier) nicht sagen, was sie meinen."

Texas and the German-American Video Blog Cooperation

The leading US video blog (vlog) Rocketboom encourages its viewers to translate the leading German vlog Ehrensenf. Now you can watch Ehrensenf episodes with English subtitles.

The two vlogs also cooperate in attempting to get a NY couple move to Texas, as Rocketboom explains here. The Dallas Morning News does not have a sense of humor and wrote the editorial "Sour Krauts: Germans laugh at Plano now, but not for long":
A New York City couple known only by the names Danny and Nina are running a contest on their Web site,, in which visitors vote on where the pair will live for a year. The two promise to relocate to the first American metropolis on their long list that gets a million votes. With nearly 600,000 votes, guess which town is leading the balloting? Plano. It's not a compliment. Plano rocketed to the top of the list after a German television program encouraged viewers to visit the Web site and punish the New Yorkers by sending them to live in Texas. As "Lyzia," a German commentator on the site's message board, put it, "The reason why we [Germans] want them to move to Texas is ... cruelty.
Yes, that's right, the Dallas Morning News wrote an editorial about an episode in a German entertainment vlog. Besides, they got it wrong. a) A bit more is known about the couple. b) Ehrensenf is not a "television program", c) Ehrensenf did not encourage anybody to "punish" the couple by sending them to Texas. Rather than quoting one of tens of thousands of commentators, they should have quoted the Ehrensenf episode about this vote, which just points out that Texas would be recreational for a couple from NY. Ehrensenf does not have anything against Texas, but just wanted to satirically "play God" by encouraging its many viewers to vote for one particular city.
If I wanted to imitate the
humorless editorial writer, then I would quote one letter to the editors of the Dallas Morning News and then conclude: "Rednecks: Americans laugh at xyz." Imagine the outcry in the blogosphere, if a German newspaper had published an incorrect editorial with such a title.
Many Germans might not like a certain politician from Texas, but that does not mean that they dislike everybody and everything else in Texas. In fact, earlier this year, Germans voted for the German country band Texas Lightning to present their country at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Besides, some Germans, who used to be prisoners of war in Texas, return for reunions, as Cuppa Politics.
UPDATE: is currently offline (probably could not handle the traffic from Rocketboom), but they have a blog.