To be undramatic to say the least, Spain in my eyes does not have any wild stereotypes. Before I got here I held petty stereotypes such that I believed Spanish folk dressed fashionably. Well that is absolutely true- they all out dress me daily; pants and a button down or a trendy top and shoes while I’m wearing a t shirt and shorts to class. I confess that coming here I did not have any major pre-existing thoughts on the people of Spain. And that has remained true, the Spanish people have subtle differences from us Americans, but as for crazy American stereotypes there’s not much to discuss. As for Europeans in general I suppose I had reserves about their habits of being relaxed. Through my experience here I have discovered that Spaniards and Europeans may seem lazy and slow, but in reality they are truly hard working people. Another slight stereotype I had before I came here was that Spaniards were racist. I guess I just believed that because a friend must have mentioned that to me. The idea that Spaniards are racist is just not true. I have not come across a situation in which there has been any racially charged animosity towards others. Possibly the only thing that may explain this viewpoint of racism is behind the love affair with futbol, (or soccer). Unfortunately, in the case of futbol, there does happen to be some poor fans of the sport that discriminate African and colored players. The fans throw bananas on the field and chant slurs. Let me be clear this is not a mere tactic to rattle the player’s focus, it is absolutely slanderous. My sports psychology teacher has actually lectured on this topic and has also shown that there is an organization in Spain working against this racism in sports.
As for viewpoints held against us Americans I can attest that we are generally accused of being heavy drinkers, loud, and uncouth people when the night dawns. But alas, in Seville it is a more progressive culture. The Spaniards do not hold much against us foreigners. Not only do my friends and I maintain a low profile on (most) nights, we are beginning to blend in with the rest of the culture. I ordered a coffee the other day at a café I frequent and I don’t think the barista could tell whether or not I was American or Spanish. That’s progress! I’ve also met a few fellow young Spaniards and yes they accuse us of drinking hard, but that’s about it. As I’ve discussed in my previous blog, the Spaniards generally see us as cultured and studious people. Getting a good grade or even studying in public is not a common phenomenon in Spain. My friend, Julio, a waiter down the street, took his firefighter exams the other day and got scores in the low 70s and 60s. He was hyped and excited about getting a ‘good’ grade, I celebrated with him, but in my head I was very confused because a good score in my mind is above an 80.
As the stereotypes here in Spain are pretty weak, I don’t believe the ideas held against Spaniards or American are “filling a vacuum of knowledge”. I’ve honestly run into minimal stereotyping here in Spain and I’ve truly enjoyed learning this beautiful and accepting culture. This absence of stereotyping had made my rite of passage process very smooth in retrospect. I have honestly not been unfairly judged by any Sevillans, and because of that I am thankful that I am going through this experience in a city that is accepting and knowledgeable.