Tuesday, April 1, 2014

American Stereotypes: The Good and Bad!

Global Issues
Being six weeks away from my trip to London, I have to start thinking more what my trip is about rather than the awesome side excursions I might be able to participate in (like Ireland or Paris). The first thing that comes to mind are the common stereotypes of U.S. Americans.

I have traveled overseas myself on numerous occasions and have been able to beat the American stereotype! The most common bad American stereotypes I have encountered from previous experiences are U.S. Americans are lazy dressers (like to wear comfy clothing rather than decent clothing), loud and obnoxious (clearly we like to talk and make it known), and no manners (especially when it comes to eating or encountering people). Fortunately, there are good stereotypes that I have encountered as well! Which are: generous people (we are very giving), optimistic (have a good outlook on life and loving it!), and hardworking (we like to earn our money).

Bad Stereotypes
Americans are Lazy Dressers!
The biggest stereotype that I ran into overseas (which has some truth) is that Americans are lazy dressers and do not like to dress decent in the public eye. As I have always believed, stereotypes do have some truth to them! Yes, Americans do like to wear sweatpants and sweatshirts to Wal-Mart or sometimes class, but we dress up when it is necessary or when we want to! Americans are not always in pajamas or relaxed clothing. As for me, I will always dress up for work, a job interview, or when being seen in a more public eye. Americans that are in a very relaxed place, like their hometown, like to stay relaxed and that begins with their clothing! Luckily, there is a way to fix this stereotype for personal and professional use.

To fix this stereotype, just dress how you want to be perceived! When overseas, wear nice clothing and not sweatpants and sweatshirts in public. Wear nice pants and a blouse with some accessories. Dressing nice gives a great first impression, and plus we will only be in London for two weeks! So why not look good the whole time? And dressing nice boosts confidence which only helps make the trip even better! TIP! Pack clothing that can have multiple uses to save room in your luggage and to make life simpler!

Loud and Obnoxious Americans!
As Americans, we are talkers! Shy people are actually unique and most people I know try to get people out of their shells by….talking! This unsavory stereotype comes from the fact that Americans have a lot to say (not always knowing what they are talking about), and they like to say it LOUDLY. Being a loud and talkative person can annoy anyone of any race/ethnicity/culture and can leave a lasting impression. Luckily, my shy personality has saved me from looking like a loud and obnoxious American. Who knew it would be handy? Anyways, how to cure this stereotype one may ask? Well….

To cure this outwardly action, learn the typical behaviors of the place you are visiting. Most European countries (that I have encountered) are respective quiet people that keep their personal bubbles and absolutely use their “inside” voice at all times. A safe rule of thumb would be to use a soft voice and to keep your distance. Do not be up in someone’s face and yelling! But who likes that anyways?

Americans Have No Manners!
As when any person visits another country, the first thing they do is compare their culture. Americans definitely have different mannerisms than Europeans so the comparisons are not always good. In America, it is okay to be close to people, to tip at certain events (like restaurants), and to say certain things. In European countries personal bubbles are an absolute must (as said before in Loud and Obnoxious), tipping in not acceptable in certain places (like tipping waiters), and saying certain phrases will just scream AMERICAN TOURIST! To set yourself apart (and most likely in a bad way) is how you present yourself to people.

To prove that Americans do have manners, just be respectable (as said in Loud and Obnoxious too!), and teach yourself in a few etiquettes. Learn what phrases are okay and not okay, and how to present yourself in public settings like taxis, restaurants, or even walking in the street. Every country is different so be knowledgeable! Most people are understanding and if you show respect and care they will help you along the way.
Good Stereotypes
We are Generous!
Finally some good stereotypes! One of the biggest nice stereotypes that I have ran into in my personal travels are that U.S. Americans are generous people (which I like to believe is true). In times of need, we give more than we take and are willing to help those we do not even know. Helping those is inbred into most Americans which is why when there is a time of need Americans are quick to join together and provide whatever possible. I guess you can say, we believe it is better to give than receive.

Unfortunately, not every single American believes in generosity though. There can be selfish people who take what they can and run, but there are always a few rotten eggs in the batch.

Optimistic Americans!
Another stereotype that I believe is very much true is that Americans are very optimistic. We set goals and truly believe we can achieve them! Americans have a happy outlook on life and then strive for what they want. Being optimistic opens up a lot of opportunities, and they are fully taken advantage of.

But as with every other stereotype, there are two sides to every story and not all Americans are optimistic. Some have no hope or faith for our government, people in our society, or even within themselves. It is sad, but one has to accept happiness, hope, and faith to be optimistic. Being pessimistic can always change, just like optimism.

We Work Hard For Our Money!
A great stereotype is that we work hard for our money! Americans work for what they want and continue to do so. Most Americans this day and age have more than one job, have personal businesses, and earn their income. Personally, I have a job and run my own small business which is quite a bit of success for a 22 year old almost college graduate. I have worked hard to get where I am at and will continue to work hard for my future. A lot of Americans have this mindset and actually act it out.

Wretchedly, this topic is in hot debate. The biggest counterpoint that comes to mind is Welfare. Most people feel there are those who abuse Welfare to get out of working (which has some truth in my opinion), but as I said previously there are always a few bad eggs in the batch. Most people I know work for their money and handle themselves well.

Generally, I feel that all stereotypes (good and bad) have an element of truth. There are a reason why those stereotypes were formed, and there is always ways to change them (whether for the good or bad). I love traveling and to be able to use the information I know, and maybe break a few stereotypes will be an awesome experience!

No comments:

Post a Comment