Stereotypes are generalized thoughts about specific cultures or types of individuals. Races are grouped together and judgments are made about them without the individuals actually knowing them. In my opinion stereotypes often have a negative connation and are used in making jokes. Creating stereotypes, as Adel states, is a way to “provide a comfortable shortcut to understanding complex matters.” People are blind to the truth and therefore resort to stereotypes due to this; it is people that stereotype that tend to know little about the culture/race they pretend to.
One of the most common stereotypes I had about Spaniards prior to coming to Spain was that they drink a lot, party all night and sleep all day and don’t work. I particularly thought this of citizens of Barcelona because every time I’ve heard something about the city, the club scene and nightlife is a dominant part of the conversation. Coming here, I can half say I was right and half say I was wrong. More just ignorant to the truth, I suppose. The Spanish do indeed drink a lot. They often have a glass of wine or beer along with every meal as well as in between while socializing. One thing I discovered was that sangria is much more of a tourist and foreigner thing to drink, for wine is much more common among locals. As my professor says, the Spanish will think of any excuse to turn something into a party. But partying in the Spanish sense is much different. They don’t drink to get blacked out, rather they drink socially to have a good time with friends. Most of their time partying is outside of the house and usually in restaurants where they sit for hours just having a good time. I’ve found that at most clubs there are a lot more foreigners than locals. While they absolutely stay out later—dinner usually doesn’t start until 830 and most clubs don’t get busy until 1 or 2 am—their working hours are actually much longer than most in Europe. Many stores will open up in the early afternoon and stay open until around midnight. Some take siestas during midday but even that has been disappearing lately. They live a much more laid back lifestyle than we do back in the States, which is not a bad thing by any means – they live to enjoy life.
A second common stereotype I had coming in was that bull fighting was a big thing for the Spanish. I was completely wrong about this. I got to Barcelona to discover that bull fighting had actually been banned for the past couple of years. It was met with a bit of hostility by a lot of the population due to the fact that it’s such a large part of their culture, however it was deemed to be inhumane to continue that tradition. It is, however, still a fairly large tourist attraction in Madrid. The old bull fighting ring in the Barcelona city center has actually been transformed into a shopping mall. Instead of bull fighting and flamenco dancing being the main sources of entertainment, I have found that the people of Barcelona do many other things. There are always many different types of festivals going on throughout the city at nearly any given point of time. Castellers, which are people who make human towers, are popular at these and can be seen there. Some citizens like to just go to a movie or a bar and hangout. But the biggest form of entertainment I’ve noticed is getting food at restaurants. Often large groups of people will sit down, order a bunch of tapas and a few bottles of wine and just sit for hours on end talking and having a good time – that’s certainly very different as opposed to my original thinking of going to bull fights and watching flamenco dancers.
In class a few weeks ago, we were talking with our professor and the topic of stereotypes came up. It was interesting to hear from his point of view how Americans are thought of. He also shared with us how his Spanish students stereotype us, which was interesting to hear from a different perspective. Needless to say, they were basically all negative and had to do with obesity, sugary foods and loudness. They said we are easily picked out of a crowd due to the noises we make (such as saying oh my god or gasping at something) or the fact that we’re always trying to strike up a conversation with strangers. I can’t say that all of this don’t have some backing to them, but to generalize the entire country is ignorant. And what I’ve noticed is that as soon as a Spaniard hears you’re an American, they tend to be a bit more unfriendly which I think is unfair since they’re acting out of a generality that really only applies to a very small part of the US population.
It was interesting how the stereotypes I came into Spain with have all but disappeared since I’ve arrived here. I was admittedly blind to their culture and have since discovered the reality of Spanish culture. While I can understand why some stereotypes may have been made by some people (such as the Spanish being lazy), after living here for over a month, it’s definitely clear that they are not lazy but they go about their lives at a slower pace so they can enjoy themselves more.
The picture I chose is of Opium in Barcelona. It’s a club on the beach where I believe that stereotypes of both Spanish and American cultures have been created. Those being that the Spanish party all night long and that Americans drink way too much.