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Very interesting – the nicest people I’ve met this year are one young woman from Russia, one from Sweden, and one guy from France.
I was totally surprised with this woman from Russia, because I’ve never had any (much?) contact with Russians before and what little contact I’ve had with anyone even remotely geographically close was with people from the ex-Soviet Republics in Eastern Europe — and I must say they gave me a horrible impression of their culture and mentality (Roumanians, Poles, etc.). Stupid, backwards, idolizing the US in the most nauseating and naive ways, trying to be the grossest liberals — as if thinking that equated to “progress and freedom.” From archaic retrogrades to sleazy liberals. Ugh.
Add to that, all the horrible news in the media related to Russia, Putin, the mafias, the violence, the selfish nouveaux riches, etc., and my image of Russians and Russia was a dump. But no, some very nice (and intelligent, and together) people come out of there. 🙂
Same for Sweden. I have a different negative stereotype of Sweden, veering more towards the boring, kind of like cultural clods, too much drinking, and — unfriendly. Well, just met a very nice exception.
And the French guy was, well, within my idea of what a nice French guy is like, but that doesn’t materialize very often ;-).
I think it’s such a luxury to have an international group of friends. These are all acquaintances, but I look forward to forming a real international group of friends for the long-term. One of the best things in life.
Talking to people of only one nationality bores me incredibly.