First off: special prize to the person that
knows why the pages are this color...
Why did the Welsh Law change in 1993? Is the Welsh Law requiring all government functions to be carried out either in Welsh or English supposed to increase equality? But isn't it doing the exact opposite when graduates of such schools are required to become translators instead of what they have been trained for?
Ah, but that is the problem with the law! My impression is that the original change in Welsh Law was supposed to let Welsh people use their own language (which is, of course, a necessary part of any unique culture) in official functions; it was kind of a way for them to get Welsh back into mainstream society. "Double the Languages, Double the Choice," is what one sign says; by learning Welsh, youth were supposed to get a better chance at jobs, etc. However, as you said, the use of Welsh speakers as translators is backfiring. However, many hope that someday, Welsh will be the more common language. While English is the more common language, Welsh is kind of pushed to the side in importance; IF things are someday mostly in Welsh, people will be able to actually use their skills.
what are the most popular shows that are viewed on television there? you mentioned that one girl gleaned her impressions of american from jerry springer, what other shows are representing the United States there currently?
Jerry Springer just got his own Jerry Springer UK show here, which is kind of like the American version but toned down quite a bit - it's kind of like if they gave him quasi-scandalous topics and people trying to be like the Americans on his US show. There's a show called, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" that is an incredibly intense game show - apparently it was bought by a US company because it was so good. Also, a soap opera called East Enders is really popular among both adults and youth.
One of the other interesting things is the emerging popularity of gardening shows here. There is one in particular that is shown on Friday nights at around 8 or 9 PM that is one of the three most watched shows in the UK, where people let the hosts into their gardens for 2 days (17 hours total) and the hosts have to transform a usually crummy, beaten garden into something respectable. A lot of the people in my block watch it before going out. (Lots of girls think that guys are only interested in it because one of the hostesses never wears a bra; however, it really is an interesting show.) As for American shows, they have Friends, ER, South Park, and a few other popular American shows; Friends is obsenely popular, but British shows still have most of the airtime, since people over here have to pay an annual TV tax that pays for programs.
It seems like you made several references to the way women are treated there. Besides being the main domestic caretaker do women have an equal opportunity at obtaining high paying jobs, and was the culture shock greater for your female American friends?
It is my impression that women do have a somewhat equal opportunity to obtain high-paying jobs; however, I am unsure whether it is at the same level as the US, which is not perfect whatsoever. Women definitely have posts at the University, and about half of my professors are female, if that says anything about the society. I am unsure about the culture shock for Lindsay; I'll let her address that.
in your "random observations" list, you say "They eat with their forks upside down in their left hands." what exactly does this mean? what good is a fork without the pokey things that allow you to pick stuff up?
Exactly. It's crazy. They kind of mush it onto what we would consider the fork bottom and balance it into their mouths.
you mention that women do all the housework... you say they clear tables, wash dishes, clean the house, etc... these are chores that, in the past, were primarly women's in America... but in America, women did not want to do this, so they fought it and now are a lot more liberated and most of them work and now the house chores are basically split between the wife, husband, and kids.... so, I am wondering, does it seem like the women are happy in this role? they may be accustomed to it, but they must know that this is not how it is everywhere... do you think that their role in the house will ever change?
I'm not sure that the older generation are unhappy in this role; however, it seems like younger women are more interested in careers and working rather than simply doing laundry and cooking. My host mother was a widow, and so she did both, balancing a career with running a house; this may have simply been out of necessity, but she didn't seem to mind, and was rather bothered when I tried to help her.
"However, they also do not like Americans as a whole for our loudness, our pushiness/assertiveness, our nationalism, and our stereotypical succeed-at-all-costs attitude;" So, why do the people of wales dislike our nationalism? is there something about it that conflicts with their beliefs?
I'm not sure...I think that one people's nationalism will conflict with another people's nationalism, no matter how minor. Part of nationalism is, I think, believing that one's own country is the best, and when there are many people believing that their country is the best, then conflicts have to emerge somewhere...
Do you think that the views that the Welsh and English people have about America and its people are kind of off because they do not really understand our culture or are they valid points that just seem wrong to us because we are Americans?
Yep, I think that's a big part of it. They really don't get a lot of accurate representations of America; Friends and various movies are all of the exposure that they have, for the most part, as well as trips to Florida and Disneyworld. My flatmates were watching a movie about some fictional college, and one girl said, "Wow, is that what it's like? Like, do you have all of the old furniture and stuff?" "Yeah, but usually there are a lot more really attractive women sitting around in lingerie, at least in L.A." was my response; one boy just said, "wow." And with Jerry Springer supposedly hosting real Americans on his show, we have to constantly fight this stereotype. Media often portrays what it wants to portray, and not necessarily the truth...
Do they really have that much valid information about us or are they just doing the best they can on what they see of us? I saw a video on how the Japanese take American culture and put it into their own and they interpreted a lot of the aspects of our culture differently than we would because basically all that they saw of us came from movies, sitcoms and commercials. Is this is the same in Wales?
Ooh, but you saw a VIDEO on how the Japanese interpret our culture, and it can be dangerous to assume that that is the final truth on everything that the Japanese take from our culture... do you see what I mean? Media is a touchy subject. I'll try to cover it when I have a little more time...
Based off of your discussions and encounters with Welsh people, do you believe that despite the failure of the referendum for independence back in 1979, that there is still a desire to see emergence of a Welsh nation free of British rule.
That really depends on who you talk to. There are some people who really do think that Wales should be free of British rule, and many see that as the inevitable result of the current devolution movement. However, I would think that the majority of people in Wales really could never see Wales as an independent nation-state. There is a lot of interest, however, in having more Welsh control of things such as taxes and foreign policy, both of which London controls.
Were you at all familar with Welsh politics, culture, and lifestyle before this study abroad?
Nope, not a bit of it.
Violence traditionally facilitates or accompanies a country's push for nationalism ( for the Welsh the resurrection of their language and more self governing). Are you familiar with any militant nationalist groups in Wales?
I do not know that there have been any riots in the push for independence; however, there have been some rather unpleasant scraps with authority for specific issues. For example, a lot of towns in Wales are the site of many summer homes of people coming over from England; thus, for most of the year, people do not occupy the houses, and spaces where Welsh people could live are taken up. A few people did go around burning the homes down; however, they were caught and prosecuted. I attempted to start a militant Welsh nationalist party at Pitzer last year (seriously - just ask Professor Boyle) but, by the end of the year, there was only one other person in it, and I'm not Welsh, so it kind of fizzled out. (And I'm serious about this, too.)
> In your page you mentioned how your friend Lindsay was > shown where everything > was in the kitchen in case you or any guy needed > something so she could get > it for you, i was wondering ,did she?
> i also had a question about the pub scene. Do you > find that since there is > really no drinking age or at least a reduced > drinking age (i think you > said 16) that there is less of an alcohol problem? > Like its not such a big > deal for the welsh but all the americans seem to go > crazy.
Nope. I see much more of an alcohol problem, among youth, especially. The thing is, because it's so prevalent, no one worries about it. It's absolutely normal to go out and get smashed on any night, and so people don't put much thought into it. In the states, though, it is not as normal or acceptable and so people don't do it as often. Americans might "go crazy," but I have been talking to a few Americans about it, and for the most part we seem to take it much more in moderation.
> You've mentioned going clubbing often. What type of > music is played at these > clubs? Is it American? Is American music very > prevalent in Welsh society?
There is some American music; however, the big influence in clubs is an island off of Spain called Ibiza that, every summer, becomes the big party to be at in Europe. It also seems to draw the most talented dj's and producers, and the music is brought back to the mainland and to the UK and gets played all over Radio One (big youth popular music radio station). The music is basically techno/dance music; in some clubs, they have different rooms, and there are lots of 70's and 80's nights, as well as hip hop dj's.
> you mentioned the issue of trash---on the whole, do > you consider Wales > an environmentally responsible country? How do they > compare with the > United States? I am interested to know if the people > recycle there, and > (generally) how concerned the people are on world > issues such as global > warming, destruction of the rainforests, and > endangered species. Also, is > there a Green Party?
The UK hasn't had any really big recycling programs that I have seen so far - people just don't seem to care very much about it. I have not noticed that people really worry about global warming, destruction of rainforests, or endangered species; however, I haven't been talking to people about these topics, so I am not sure. However, my impression is that they are not as worried about these issues as Americans are, nor are they as informed about these issues, although, as I said, I could totally be wrong. The library section on environmental issues is not as extensive as, say, that on Fascism, though. I do believe that there is something equivalent to the Green Party; I'll check on that for you!
> i also think your comments about increased > nationalism on your part was > interesting. are the other students you are there > with experiencing the > same things?
A lot of students are experiencing the same anti-American feelings; however, I think that I might be getting into a few more arguments than others, as I have a problem controlling my mouth when my values are challenged. One of my more intelligent and philosophical friends, Quinn, emailed me and said that I had to just remember that they are worried because they don't occupy such a large place in the world as America does. That's fine...but if they attack America, I'll still destroy them.
> I was wondering, if you have encountered any kind of > racist discriminations > on people that might have migrated to Wales.
I have not, and I don't believe that the Cardiff University students are very racist. When researching this question, I asked two Chinese students if they'd encountered any racism, and they said no. The student body, while maybe not as diverse as at Pitzer, does have a healthy mix of Indians, Chinese, Japanese, an assortment of Middle-Easterners, and Africans. However, you might want to check out Lindsay's site, as she has some information on a television show that she watched where Japanese people were derogatorily (maybe not a word, but flow with it) stereotyped.
> If welsh culture emphasises smaller, more tight-knit > friendships (&communities), and drinks in an > 'european way' (for enjoyment, more control)... > Is it just your own personal interest or a reflect > on the dark side of culture that all your slang > words deal with women, alcohol, and sex?
Good question - I actually asked my flatmates if they could think of anything slang words, and the list was a product of that collaboration. I would be interested if you would send me a list of American slang words and grouped them together; it seems that quite a few words either deal with excrement, sex, and drugs. If you could also send me an explanation of your first sentence and how it applies to the question, I'll totally be willing to give you a more complete answer as well!
> I know you said that Welsh generaly find > Americans odd and one of > the reasons you gave was because Americans have a > succeed-at-all-cost > attitude. I would like to know where you believe > that stereotype came > from? What types of media or movies have the > Welsh seen that would make > them believe that?
I think that it probably just comes from their experience with the American economy and their views of American politics. We have to face the fact as Americans that we do have a rather extraordinary amount of innovators and economically powerful people in our society (Bill Gates, for example), and when these are the people that are talked about in both American and European circles, the impression formed is that we are cutthroats economically. Plus, with armed forces as large as we have, and dominance in many sports fields (America just won the Ryder Cup, much to the dismay of the Europeans, who have been printing some very unpleasant things about America in their newspapers), the most talented people of our country often get placed against the most talented people of a continent, and when we do well in something, it is seen as an American trait. One of my flatmates last night actually started talking about how America is good at everything, as well as optimistic, and was trying to make some sort of connection between the two. I don't know where I was going with that, but it seemed connected at one time...
> How do you feel the clubs in Wales compare to those > in LA? DO they seem > safer? Are the crowds more diverse?
I don't know about the clubs in LA, but the clubs here often seem to simply be public groping grounds for sex-starved youth. I wouldn't necessarily call the crowds diverse in terms of races (unless you wanted to count Welsh, English, Scottish and Irish as separate races) but many different types of people go to clubs. Dress codes often make everyone look the same (for guys, Ben Sherman shirts and slacks, for girls...well, often whatever), so you don't always get diversity that way. However, it feels safe to me, for the most part.
> BASED ON YOUR CULTURAL OBSERVATIONS, IS WELSH > SOCIETY, WHILE SEEMINGLY WARM > AND INVITING, IN SOME WAYS MORE VIOLENT THAN > AMERICAN SOCIETY? (IN REFERENCE > TO THE WELSH WAY OF CELEBRATING VICTORY, > NATIONALISM)
Ummm...well, I haven't seen any physical fights here, although I haven't seen many in the states, either. They definitely supported violence in Rugby more than I've ever seen violence supported in the States, although Lindsay disagrees with me on this point. I think that their nationalism might make them more sensitive to what other people say about Wales (much like my reactions to comments about America), and this could conceivably lead to violence; however, I'm not sure if either society is more violent than another. I do remember kids in the Welsh school that we were in that got in a fight; however, this was no different from my elementary school.
> In regards to California and Wales political systems > I was wondering what > was the difference between our business world and > the Welsh? Also how is > the Welsh government structured? and how does it > differ from ours?
Um…I don't know exactly what you mean by business world, but I can talk about the government! Basically, the UK was run by Parliament in London; they didn't have a federal system like we do. The assembly is a move more towards federalism; they can't tax or control foreign policy, but they basically have control over everything else. It is still being tested, though, so we'll see how it turns out…
>How much ethnic diversity is there in Wales? >By this I mean asians, blaçks, indians etc. How prevelant is racism? Is >nationality or race more important? By this I mean, as a black American in >Wales, would I be more likely to encounter racial discrimination or >discrimination as an American? What kinds of roles do ethnic minorities >play in politics? African Blacks are the most educated group in Britain. >Is this true in Wales, as well?
Yowza! I would say that there are quite a few Asians, Blacks, and Indians here; the culture doesn't seem too racist, although you might look to Lindsay's page for commentary on anti-Asian sentiments. I really don't think you'll encounter as much discrimination for being black as much as for being American, and even then, I don't think that people discriminate against people for being American so much as they don't like America. The people at the university are probably more accustomed to having people directly from Africa, Asia and India come over than we are; also, one professor told me that he, "(hadn't) met an American that (he) didn't like, but (he) doesn't like America." I really don't know what role ethnic minorities play in politics, although I doubt that it would be major in Welsh politics, as mostly Welsh people are interested in what is going on.
>So, uhm, what do they do with their trash? And also, did you take that >picture of the sunset? What do you do for fun, I mean, do you hang out >with all the welsh kids and go to pubs, or are you more focused on >school work?
They have people that go around with kind of mini street-sweepers and they clean up stuff on the sidewalks. I don't really have time for fun all that much, but there is definitely a pub element to the experience, as well as parties. Personally, I'm rowing crew this year, so my social life is either non-existent or it revolves around what the other people are doing.
>Your essay on nationalism seemed to project negative reactions and feelings towards >the welsh due to the mere fact that you were American and you continued to >say how your nationalism peaked while you were in Wales. Now, i was >wondering what the difference was between you creating divides between the >Welsh and you the American, through this heightened nationalism, as opposed >to them pointing fingers at you for being an American? Wouldn't it be the >same thing, and do you think that maybe having too much nationalism can be >harmful in that it may create greater divides between peoples of different >ethnic, cultural and territorial backgrounds?
Ummm…I think you're asking about if I though my nationalism was good or bad, and whether it was interfering with my experience (If I'm wrong, definitely write me back, because I like this question). I don't go out looking for arguments about America and the UK/Europe; however, I've run into a lot of British people who will, uninvited, offer their opinions about American economy, government, and foreign policy and condemn me for my obvious role in it all. When this happens, I aim more at setting them right about America. I believe that this might create greater cultural divides; however, oftentimes people have entirely different interpretations of America than what is reality. For example, Jerry Springer gives the British a lot to work on. But please, ask your question again if I didn't answer it.
>Are there any real barriers between the Welsh and the British (or the >Welsh and Americans for that matter) when it comes to language. That >is, are there many Welsh people who absolutely refuse to learn the >English language and will only speak their native tongue? If so, how >are these people treated in the society as a whole? Do they somehow >suffer for not learning English?
I really doubt that people in Wales are expressly forbidden to learn English by their parents or anything like that; everyone pretty much speaks English, and can choose to operate in Welsh in some sectors if they so wish.
>Do you think that the laws about everything being done in Welsh or English limits diversity, in the >area?
No; on the contrary, it kind of increases the diversity, I think. However, this can be infuriating for people that have to deal with people speaking Welsh when they don't know it, and, if anyone is brought up without English, it would be annoying to not be able to communicate.
>If the Welsh look down on American Nationalism, how do they reconcile the >fact that it seems that their nationalism is a huge part of their lives and >participation is a daily thing?
I'm not sure that they do; I think that there may be an element of competition with American nationalism that kind of threatens their sense of nationalism. If two peoples claim to be the best, then they can't both be. Dig?
>Also, not really a question, but I was really interested in the role of >women, as many other students seem to be. Do you think that the role of >women is that different then in America, just that the Welsh are more honest >about it?
I don't think honesty has much to do with it; it's just really blatant and expected that women take a subservient role in a lot of the more traditional households. I think that a women have a ways to go in America, but I don't think it's as far as they have to go in Wales.
>Do you think that Americans tend to be hypocritical?
No. We're God's chosen people.
I don't think that one could place a label on an entire group and be completely accurate unless the group was defined by the label. I might be wrong, but I don't think that you could say that Americans are universally anything but American. Some people are hypocritical on some issues; I'm not sure that anyone claims that America is perfect on gender equality, and if they did, they would probably be discredited in one report or another. However, I do think that we have made more progress on this issue than many other countries have.
>Did you take that picture of the sunset yourself?
What consists of the cultural fairs, and what kind of art is the most important to Welsh culture? Or is their a certain kind of Welsh art?
The cultural fairs (I think they're called Eisteddfods) are places for people to go and read poetry, act in plays, play music, dance, and display more performance and literary art. There is a certain type of metered poetry that is almost exclusively used in Welsh, as it is hard to pull it off in any other language. To listen to it is quite beautiful, even if you don't understand it, since there are complex patterns of sounds.
A Quote from Schopenhauer in the words of Tupac Shakur