Travel Log 9: “Rites of Passage: Exploring Stereotypes” Madeline Eldredge, Cork Ireland

Studying abroad in Ireland has definitely opened my eyes to many more stereotypical ideas than I thought would happen. Of course, other countries have their own opinions about Americans and Americans have their own opinions about other countries. I think stereotypes occur when there is uneducated opinions that become theories and then are ultimately believed. For example, the most common stereotypes pertaining to Americans are that we are arrogant, impatient, overweight, superior and rich. Coming to Ireland with these thoughts in the back of my mind were intimidating but being here for almost two months has taught me that these stereotypes are not as widely believed as I originally thought. The Irish adore Americans and are the most kindhearted people that I have ever come into contact with. I think the most common and accurate stereotype that Americans have is that we are clueless when it comes to other cultures, thus concluding the idea that we are arrogant. There is a misconception between arrogance and completely misunderstanding something that could be taken both ways and I believe that it is all in how the situation is handled.

A few Irish locals have told me that they think all Americans are wealthy. This made me feel a little uncomfortable because although there are some wealthier Americans in America, I am sure it is the same instance in Ireland. I think that there are good and bad parts of every area all over the world and some areas that would be considered more or less wealthy than others. When a few of us spent the weekend on the farm with Amy and Rob Attridge, we were told that it is rude to ask a farmer how many cows he owns and it would be equivalent in America to asking how much a person makes for their income a year. I found this interesting and helped proved my point to the Irish locals when we were discussing stereotypes. Although the situations are different, the same idea is being discussed.

ireland-stereotype

I chose this image to depict the most common Irish stereotype: that they are all alcoholics and aggressive. Although this is completely inaccurate, it is a common misconception among Americans. I have learned that this stereotype upsets the Irish locals and they bring up this image that is popular in America due to sports.

As an American entering another country for a few months that is known for their alcohol consumption, I was nervous that the city was going to be chaos during the night time hours. In comparison to New Haven, Cork is much more relaxed and laid back. There are a sufficient amount of pubs all within walking distance but there is a sense of overall security that I, unfortunately, do not feel when walking in New Haven at night. Not all of the Irish are alcoholics just like not every single American is overweight or wealthy. Another stereotype is that the Irish are among the most welcoming and friendliest people in the world. I would have to say that this stereotype is completely true and I could not be more thrilled to be spending four months of my life studying abroad while being surrounded by positive people who are willing to go above and beyond to ensure the comfort of those who are visiting.

Stereotypes could easily go both ways in any country. There are overweight, underweight, wealthy, poor, impatient, patient, arrogant, and kind people in every culture in every country.To stray away from this kind of negative thinking, I believe more education should be done along the lines of this class but in every institution. If a class similar to this Global Community course was offered in every school, there would be a wider and vast understanding about every culture and more acceptance between each culture. This course, so far, has taught me more about myself and what I am capable of as well as teach me about my host culture.

image from: https://europeisnotdead.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/ireland-stereotype.png

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One thought on “Travel Log 9: “Rites of Passage: Exploring Stereotypes” Madeline Eldredge, Cork Ireland

  1. Madeline, I totally agree with you that through proper education we could help get rid of so many stereotypes. If people were made aware of other situations more and given the opportunity to travel and see a place for themselves, they would realize how many stereotypes are false.

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