Travel Log 9 “Exploring Stereotypes” by Nicholas Daniele. Valencia, Spain

I can’t really go a day without thinking if I look American or not. Every time I go on the subway I wonder if everyone knows that I am American. Since my time here, I have learned that there are some key stereotypes that I do fall under, and some that I don’t.

A couple days ago I was at this bar talking to a student from Australia. He had soe comments on a American stereotype that I did not know of. He said Americans tend to wear a lot of brands on their clothing. I had no idea. I looked down to see what I was wearing… A Ferrari jacket and an Oakley tee shirt under it – it says Oakley right across the front. Interesting. He said in Australia it is uncommon to wear brands on their clothing so when they see an individual with brands plastered everywhere – they assume he or she is an American.

I took this stereotype and applied it to Spain. I noticed that I don’t see a lot of the brands I wear on people in Barcelona. While I see people wearing brands, I do not see them wearing my brands. For instance, I do not see Oakley clothing or J-Crew stores. Maybe when they see me wearing clothing not available in Spain they assume I am American.

But what about the stereotypes that I have about people. After reading this sentence: “Living abroad taught me that stereotypes endure because they provide a comfortable shortcut to understanding complex matters” (Abroad View, Spring 2009, Volume 11, Issue 2, page 26-28.), couldn’t agree more. This was a concept I did not consciously think about, but after reading realized that I agree with that statement subconsciously – if that makes sense. It is just easy to use a stereotype to use as an explanation for someone’s actions then to use the effort to think about it rationally. For example, I could assume that the Chinese student in my class is naturally good at math, but what if I said he went to a Russian math school three times a week since the age of five? No one would know. They would just use the stereotype that Asians are good at math to justify his skill – not that he’s been studying math since he could talk. Maybe I am starting to ramble now.

This picture below shows an American stereotype conveyed by Spaniards. My friend to the right of me is wearing a baseball cap. Baseball caps are a common symbol of being an American because baseball… well is an American sport. Not only is it a baseball cap, but it also is a golf hat – another popular sport by Americans. In regards to deeper meanings, I noticed that whenever a friend or myself wears a baseball cap, everyone speaks English to us. We try to speak Spanish when starting a conversation, but they instantly know we are American so they speak English. It is a little frustrating at times. I never knew how much one dresses could affect how you interact with people.

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One thought on “Travel Log 9 “Exploring Stereotypes” by Nicholas Daniele. Valencia, Spain

  1. Hey Nick,
    It’s funny, I never realized our addiction to brands until I came to Spain. My professor pointed out to me that Americans love labels. We always need the most expensive brands, and feel the need to show it off by wearing the labels on our bodies. Many locals immediately talk to me in English when I am wearing any large name brands like Nike or Patagonia. I actually remember one guy saying, “I know you’re American because you’re wearing that jacket!” (A black, puffy Patagonia jacket). I think an important thing that Toni, my professor, said to me is that Spaniards would rather spend the money on other things such as food or activities. I think we can all learn from that.
    I hope you love Spain!
    Ryan

    Like

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