Since our youth we have always been taught that stereotypes are something negative, because they are a generalization of a group of people that aren’t true. It’s easy to understand why our elders installed a negative connotation with stereotypes. As you grow older you come to understand that while stereotypes are a bit more complicated than that. Some stereotypes are actually rooted in truth, and some “emerge to fill a vacuum of knowledge” as Adel said. Studying abroad has helped me to sort through these stereotypes.
Prior to coming abroad, I had never been to Europe. All of the stereotypes I had were passed down to me from others, and I regretfully admit that I accepted them as truth. For example, one stereotype I held was that Spaniards love to party and drink. I was told that they stay out until six in the morning. I found that this stereotype is incorrect, although the idea sprung from some truth. Spaniards do love to drink, but not in the way that was expressed to me from others. Unlike many Americans, Spaniards drink alcohol to enjoy the drink itself, not to get drunk. For people just visiting Spain for a short time, they might get the wrong picture when they see Spaniards having a beer at 10 in the morning. But in Spain, the consumption of alcohol is casual and done as a way to socialize and relax. Additionally, the strong majority of people partying into the early morning are the tourists themselves. You’ll find many people leaving the clubs early in the morning on all days of the week, but the truth is that probably only one out of ten of those people is Spanish. In this stereotype case, it seems as if people drew conclusions from situations that they witnessed without fully understanding them.
After writing that, I see that I have a stereotype about Americans that I wasn’t fully aware I had. In the previous paragraph I stated that Americans drink to get drunk. Of course, I know that not all Americans drink alcohol to become inebriated. However, this is the kind of drinking that I have been surrounded by for the past three years, as an American college student. Due to my current position in life, I formed a stereotype because I didn’t take the time to think about America as a whole. I think this is another way how stereotypes are often formed. People take ideas from a group of people that stand out and form a stereotype whether that group of people was a good representation of the rest of that population or not.
One stereotype that I found out Spaniards have of Americans is that we are workaholics. I had never heard this before, and one of my professors here in Barcelona told the class of this. When I first heard this, I sort of chuckled to myself because I feel like Americans are so lazy. To lot of my fellow citizens and me, a stereotypical American is a couch potato who loves chips and McDonald’s. How could this be a workaholic? My professor explained a bit where the stereotype came from. We are known for working long hours as well as willing to work overtime. They believe we have a great worth ethic as well.
I chose this picture of Estrella Damm beer because anyone that has been to Barcelona would recognize it. It is a popular drink here because it is brewed in Barcelona. Whenever and wherever you are walking in Barcelona, you will see bottles and glasses of Estrella being enjoyed by Spaniards. The misconception people may get from seeing so much alcohol consumption is that Spanish people love to be drunk. Living here has shown me that a casual Estrella in the morning, afternoon, or night is a norm.