Travel Log 9 “Exploring Stereotypes” by Kari Julien Trice – Barcelona, Spain

We are living in a world with many different cultures and backgrounds, and there are stereotypes that have developed to put a label on each cultural group. A stereotype is defined as a generalized idea or a belief about a certain group of people. “Stereotypes endure because they provide a comfortable shortcut to understanding complex matters and that they usually emerge to fill a vacuum of knowledge” (Adel). Some people choose to believe these stereotypes, and in doing this, they are preventing themselves from learning more about a culture.

When I first arrived in Spain, I had already been told a few stereotypes about Spaniards. Some people explained to me that Spaniards are very lazy and that they like to sleep a lot. In Spain, many people, especially those that work in small shops, will open up the store around 9 a.m., and they will close the store around 10 or 11 p.m. Since it is usually only one person working that whole day, there is a period of time in the afternoon that the locals take what is called a “siesta.” A siesta is when a restaurant or store closes for a few hours so that the employees can have a big lunch and take a nap to rest up for their next shift. I do not consider them to be lazy, seeing as how they have long workdays and a siesta is supposed to be their break time so they are prepared for the shift ahead. Yes, this is different from America’s typical 9-5 p.m. workdays, but not every culture is the same.

I have spoken with many locals about their views on Americans and our culture. Many locals say that Americans work too much. Hearing this does not surprise me and I think there are valid reasons for this stereotype. On the weekends the locals always make time for their families and large gatherings. Many stores are closed on Sundays so that they can have a break from the long workweek, and spend time at home. In America, some businesses require work to be done 6 or 7 days a week, and sometimes employees are always on-call for their job.

Some locals have also expressed that they think Americans feel as if they are entitled to everything. This is another stereotype that does not surprise me to hear. Many American tourists or students studying abroad do not try to immerse themselves into learning more about a culture, and they expect that many people in a foreign country can speak English. Some Americans also come over to Europe with this mindset that everything in America is better and that the United States is the best country in the world. Although I personally do not agree with any of these viewpoints, I have met many Americans with this mindset, and I understand why many of the locals here in Spain feel this way.

The picture I have posted here is of Sofia Vergara on the show “Modern Family.” Her character portrays and fulfills the stereotype that Hispanic women are crazy. Another stereotype that I heard a lot before coming to Spain, was that Spaniards are “loco,” or crazy. This is a negative stereotype that many Americans associate not only with Spaniards, but also with other cultural groups of Latin America. Living in Barcelona, I realize that the locals are very passionate and not afraid to express their emotions. They are affectionate and many are able to say what is on their mind. I find this to be an admirable trait.

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One thought on “Travel Log 9 “Exploring Stereotypes” by Kari Julien Trice – Barcelona, Spain

  1. I have also encountered a lot of people who feel that Americans are entitled. I don’t know about you, but I find this kind of upsetting. I know we all have generalizations about different cultures, and it’s really hard to shake those unless you’ve been in the country for a particularly extended period of time, like we have. Most people here haven’t been to America and haven’t been able to truly witness Americans firsthand. I think that hearing about stereotypes of Americans that I don’t find to be true has also helped me reconsider stereotypes that I have about other cultures. How many of these aren’t true? As long as we make an effort to inform ourselves about the true nature of people from different countries, we can try to break stereotypes and make each other more knowledgeable about different cultures.

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