Upon reflection of the article written by Hafez Adel titled “Slashing Stereotypes” in Abroad View magazine, I thought of the many stereotypes I have faced. Some of them were ones that I held while others were imposed on me. Adel writes, “Living abroad taught me that stereotypes endure because they provide a comfortable shortcut to understanding complex matters and that they usually emerge to fill a vacuum of knowledge. Talking with my roommates, classmates and strangers on the streets of Spain dispelled many of the stereotypes I held, while studying and hearing stories about Spanish history dispelled my misconceptions even more… What we [Hafez and his Spanish roommate] learned is that we know much less about each other’s cultures than we thought. But what we lost in certainty, we made up for in understanding.” (Abroad View, Spring 2009, Volume 11, Issue 2, page 26-28.) I believe studying abroad has also caused me to reconsider preconceived stereotypes. I think sometimes this occurs to “fill a vacuum of knowledge”; however, I think many stereotypes are justified, as they can sometimes be true.
When first coming to Australia, I thought most Australians were very fit and were extremely laid back. Although many Australians are quite fit there are also many who are not. The obesity problem is prevalent around the world and Australia I have learned is no exception. However, I do think they take care of their bodies better than the average American does. Australians are much more active than Americans, as one often sees people working out and or playing outdoors. Moreover, I have found that most who reside in the Gold Coast are quite laid back; however, after traveling to many different cities I have found that this is not true for all Australians. Residents of bigger cities, such as Melbourne and Sydney, are not as laid back and not as friendly as those who I have met in the Gold Coast. Australians also consider themselves to be heavy drinkers. However, the liquor laws here are quite strict and a mixed drink one would order in the states would have twice the amount of alcohol than a mixed drink in Australia would have. Therefore, I would not consider this stereotype to be true; I think Australians enjoy alcohol more in moderation than the average American who tends to over indulge.
I was not very surprised to find that Australians held certain stereotypes of Americans. However, I was surprised to find that Australians think that our college experience in much like that seen in movies. In one of my classes, we watched the opening scene of Spring Breakers where there is a wild party occurring on the beach. The Australians in my class shared that this is what they thought college in America was like, just a constant out of control party. I think there are valid reasons for this stereotype as it is an important American rite of passage to go away to college and experience this environment on your own. However, in Australia many students continue to live home throughout college and do not immerse themselves into the college culture. They often keep the same friends they went to high school with; they go to school, learn, do their work, and then come home. I have also been asked many times what I think of Donald Trump. Many Australians are surprised when I say that I dislike him and don’t agree with many of the things he does and says. I think they believe most Americans support and agree with him, as this is whom we elected. I choose the picture below because although many Australians think most Americans support Donald Trump, there are many who do not.
Adel, Hafez. “Slashing Stereotypes.” Abroad View Spring 2009: 26-28. Print.