Travel Log #9 “Exploring Stereotypes” By Andrew Rivera Valencia, Spain

Having predetermined stereotypes about a place that you have only heard of are normal. Some of the stereotypes that I had about Barcelona prior to my study abroad trip is that everyone always eat paella, everyone in Europe takes a break during the middle of the day (siesta), the beaches were beautiful, tapas originated in Barcelona, and sangria is the drink of choice. Now that I had the chance to experience Barcelona and some other places in Europe I can tell you first hand that not all of these stereotypes are true. Through talking to numerous teachers and locals that I have met they too had assumptions about the people from the United States. Stereotypes are just things you hear about a culture or country and you really don’t have a clue about what they really are like. I definitely think that some stereotypes are true and some of them couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, tapas isn’t really a Barcelona staple in food, it is more of a tourist attraction at this point. They affiliate the word tapas and Spain and Barcelona together so the people who come to Barcelona think that when they come thy must have tapas. Another stereotype that was true was the countries culture for soccer. Almost everyone in Barcelona loves FC Barcelona (football club Barcelona, one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world) and it truly showed on a recent game. The game called for them to win by 5 goals or more, which in soccer is unheard of. But they managed to pull it off and the whole city erupted, people screaming, gathering in the streets, partying, and drinking to the break of dawn. It was really an awesome experience, that showed me how something can bring a culture together.

Some other stereotypes that exist in my host culture that is apparent for a short term visitor is they go out on Mondays and Wednesdays. The locals go out on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is so because most of the study abroad students are traveling on the weekend meaning early morning flights on Friday and a rest day on Tuesday. But if you do stay the weekend the two cultures collide to make a really interesting and exciting party scene.

The stereotypes that the teachers that had about the students and the culture of the United States was surprising. Several of the teachers said Americans are loud and obnoxious, a drunk, disrespectful, lazy, and many more. Overall I would say none of these are really true once you get to know a person from the states. None of these surprised me because I can see where they get all of these from. Loud and obnoxious because when we get drunk we like to get loud and do stupid things. Lazy was not surprising either because we are known for being one of the most obese countries in the world, and disrespectful was the only one that I didn’t understand. I think that this is more of not knowing each other’s cultures and the social norms that each country has. I think that there are valid points to each stereotype but overall they aren’t true, just a misconception about the people of the states. I also think that it is a “shortcut” that Hafez Adel uses in the magazine.  “Living abroad taught me the stereotypes endure because they provide a comfortable shortcut to understanding complex matters.” This quote can be related to everything that I have presented in my writing. The people are so much more than paella, and getting obnoxiously drunk. The surface that the stereotype is scratching is much different than what is deep down inside of each person of a culture.

american stereotypes

The picture that I chose is a perfect example of a stereotype for America. The picture features an overweight male in a motorized scooter. The lazy stereotype that can also be linked to being fat is shown here in this picture. He is also shooting a very large gun for a person being in a wheelchair, also shooting at nothing just laughing doesn’t help either. When I see this picture I can’t help but think this is what the world thinks of the United States. And now that Donald Trump is out president even more stereotypes have emerged, but let’s save that conversation for another time.

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