Travel Log 9: “Exploring Stereotypes” by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England.

In an article he wrote for the magazine Abroad View, Hafez Adel wrote, “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…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.”

I think Americans have developed their stereotypes of England, and London in particular, from what they see on TV and in movies. I believe that as Americans we tend to see British people as “posh”, proper, and more reserved than we are. I think we also expect London to be a rainy, dreary place where there are only a few days of sunlight. Coming here has made me realize that most of those stereotypes are not true. The reason why we see the British as having that “proper” accent and being so posh is because a lot of actors from England are from the upper classes and speak and act in that way. Also, many television shows and movies revolve around that class of English people, especially the royal family, who would of course only behave and speak in a “proper” manner. In reality, there are many, many, kinds of English accents and not all British people are reserved and fall under the category of “posh”. In fact, when we think of British people, we only think of people from England, but technically “Britain” includes Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in addition to England, and each country has its own cultural traditions and accents. There are also stereotypes about how much the British drink tea, which is mostly true, and the plethora of pubs that line the city streets, which again is mostly true.

Yes, I have definitely found that generally Brits are less likely to approach a stranger and start talking to them, and they generally keep to themselves in places like the Underground, but they are not as cold as some people think. And they also love their small talk, especially about the weather. But that may also be because they have their own stereotypes of Americans that include believing that we are much more approachable and easy to talk to. It has also become apparent to me that the Brits love to talk about politics, and think that it’s okay to immediately ask every American they know about Donald Trump. It hasn’t necessarily infuriated me, but I do feel annoyed every time I am speaking to a British person and after they ask, “Are you American?” the second question is always “Did you vote for Donald Trump?” or “How do you feel about Trump?” I would never ask them about Brexit, as I know it is a very dividing issue in the country at the moment, so why do they feel the need to pry into an issue of the same magnitude in my home country? I appreciate their interest in politics, but I would prefer if they talked to me for a little while first before deciding whether or not I’m the type of person who would want to discuss my country’s new president. I definitely think this stereotype of sorts was created partially to fill this “vacuum of knowledge”. While I’m sure news outlets here covered the U.S. election, I’m sure a lot of details were left out, and only the big stories were presented to the public. I think people here aren’t aware how strongly people feel about the issue, whether they’re pro-Trump or anti-Trump, and they aren’t aware that it actually makes some people extremely upset and uncomfortable to talk about it. Especially since most of us have been in London since before the inauguration and haven’t really felt the impact of this presidency yet. So I’ve just learned to tell people I didn’t vote for him, I don’t really like him, and try to leave it at that.

The picture I chose to show that depicts an American stereotype of England is a stereotype I have not yet touched upon. In the picture, the American police officer is vicious and intimidating with pointed teeth and a wide variety of weapons, and he is called a “cop”. Meanwhile, the British “policeman” is automatically presented as more sophisticated and proper by his label, and is shown as more timid and implicitly harmless by only carrying a nightstick as a means of warding off criminals. To me, this is saying that in the eyes of Americans, our policemen are scarier and more intimidating, while British policemen are not to be feared as much. I think this is a false view to have and it comes down to the differences in American and British laws. England has much stricter laws about things such as gun control and, generally, there are less violent crimes to speak of in places like London. Here, it seems like one of the most common crimes is theAmerican cop and a British policeman.ft, with criminals on the Underground stealing people’s cell phones amongst other items. London also has a “CCTV” system in place, meaning that there are security cameras throughout the city, which are constantly monitored by police and security officers to seek out any possible criminal activity. Unfortunately, the United States has a more relaxed view on gun control, and we do not have a CCTV system like in England, so our police officers must be more “equipped” to deal with these possible threats. Also, major places such as big train stations, attractions like Buckingham Palace, etc. have armed military officers that can keep people safe and apprehend anyone that may be breaking the law and carrying a weapon of some sort. I have never felt like the law enforcement here were less strong or intimidating than in the U.S., and I have never felt unsafe even when I was on the streets very late at night. I think there are some Americans that think the British people are weaker because of their lack of guns and heavily armed police, but I actually prefer that to the extreme level in which we arm our police, and I definitely prefer the stronger gun control laws.

Overall, I feel like I’ve learned that the British people, well the people of London that is, have a “hard shell” of sorts and once you learn how to break that shell and start getting to know people, they are just as open and nice as Americans can be. I have also learned that there are a wide variety of English accents, and not all of them are easy to understand. England is very culturally similar to the United States and I have begun to adopt their love for tea, but not so much the love for small talk about the weather. I think travel is good to eliminate stereotypes because, as Adel wrote, what we lack in certainty, we make up for in understanding.

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Travel Log #9: “Exploring Stereotypes” By Madeleine Harder. Brussels, BE

Coming to Belgium, I did not know of any stereotypes about my host culture. I knew that Belgium was known for its chocolate, beer, and waffles but that is not exactly a stereotype—more a matter of fact. Belgium is such a small country that globally it has few known stereotypes, however within the European bloc Belgium has been subject to ridicule. Called by France as semi- France and labeled by the Swiss as having bad chocolate, these are some of the nicer things that have been said about the Belgians. Even within its own borders, Belgium has stereotypes deeply engrained into its culture.

Once I got here I learned about the conflict between the native Dutch speakers and the native French speakers. Each group has made up many stereotypes for the other population. Meanwhile, the German speakers who represent less than 1% of Belgium have been relatively left alone. Belgium is split into 2 regions: Wallonia, the French speaking south and Flanders, the Dutch speaking north. While, the German speaking population resides in Eastern Belgium by the land bordering Germany. Brussels is a special exception to Belgian geography because it is technically in Flanders but is almost entirely French speaking. What I mean to say is you will get dirty looks if you try and use Dutch to get around.

The Dutch view the French speaking population as the dumber half of Belgium. And it’s kind of true, students of the Dutch-speaking school system score significantly higher on standardized tests. Residents of Flanders view themselves as very hard workers and see the Walloons as lazy. I am not as well versed on the stereotypes the French have assigned to the Dutch but generally they believe the Dutch give too many kisses and watch too much television. While these stereotypes seem light and childish, the Dutch legitimately think they are better than the French. And in the battle of languages (but language only) I side with the Dutch.

Living in Germany has really colored my perception of the French language and by default the people who call this language their mother tongue. Linguistically, Dutch is the language that bridges German and English. My experience with German has actually led me to favor the Dutch language in Belgium. Some of the students that I have become friends with at my university are originally from Flanders and though they can speak perfect French, claim they have a “distaste” for the language. It’s hard to describe exactly why, but the Dutch sounds (and German as I’ve found out) are very different than the ones in French. It’s physically challenging to speak the other language. And throw in the fact that the Dutch view the French as inferior; they will not try to accommodate them.

A stereotype at my university, regardless of what language you speak at home, is that only the most academically gifted students pursue a minor. It is far less common to do so than in the United States. This was very surprising to me because as a communications major I had to declare a minor. When people asked me what I studied the first week of this semester and I said I had 2 minors, people looked at me like I was Albert Einstein reincarnated. While I liked the attention, I think this stereotype endures because the quality of education in Belgium (even in the “dumber” French schools) is very good. They do not need to add a minor to their studies and those who do, do so because they want to.

On the other side of things, Belgians view the Americans as “cute.” They do not take us seriously. This is ok for me because I try to speak French to the best of my ability and when I fail (which is quite often) they have no problem speaking in English to me. This is very different than the French who sneer at Americans that try to make an effort speaking a language other than their own. This weekend I will be traveling to Paris and I’m a little nervous about how I will be treated. My experience in Belgium as an American has been very good. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with the American Ambassador to Belgium and when she was describing her family’s transition to life in Brussels she had nothing but positive things to say.

europe-according-to-the-united-states-of-americaI had way too much fun looking for a picture to accompany this post and in the end I couldn’t choose just one. The first is a map of what Americans associate with each European country and I was not surprised to find out that this was chocolate for Belgium. At the same time, it’s anticlimactic because this isn’t a stereotype—there is actually chocolate in Belgium. Godiva was founded in Belgium in 1926 and in the United States this is considered high quality chocolate so of course the Belgians get a chocolate label. In Belgium, though, Godiva is equivalent to Hershey’s. There’s better chocolate out there but Godiva will get the job done if you are having a serious craving.

europe-according-to-bulgariaThe second map I am posting with this entry is how Bulgarians view Europe. I found this map much more interesting and thought provoking. The Bulgarian’s labeled Belgium with the term “God.” This stems from the capital of the European Union being located in Brussels. It is a very common view within Europe that the Belgians abuse holding the seat of, whatever you classify the EU as. Other common stereotypes claim that the Belgians are bureaucrats who love their paperwork. While I can personally attest that Belgian’s love their paperwork this does not have the same sinister connotation that “God” does. This dark and power hungry image is what Belgium is to many other European countries. However, I don’t necessarily think this is the Belgians fault. Skepticism of the EU is running at an all time high and it is important to separate Belgium from the EU because they are not the same. And I think that Belgium has taken on reputations that only the European Union should hold.

Travel Log 9: “Exploring Stereotypes” By Jim Webb Perugia, Italy

Stereotypes are encountered in varying degrees by every group of people on the planet earth.  Hafez Adel, a University of California at Irvine student wrote an article titled “Slashing Stereotypes” for the magazine Abroad View.  She described stereotypes as a generalization of people emerging to fill a vacuum of knowledge.  After reading this I looked up what the real definition of a stereotype was and in Meriam-Websters Dictionary a stereotype is, “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”  I think combing these two partial definitions gives us the best definition of a stereotype, a widely held but fixed and over simplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing stemming from a lack of knowledge or understanding.

Before coming to Italy I had a few ideas of what I was going to be seeing everyday, stereotypes if you will of the Italian people.  I half expected men with thick mustaches, in wife-beaters with old pasta stains on it, speaking through a heavy accent, while over gesticulating with their hands.  The Italian women were the picture of fashion, gorgeous and always draped in the finest and most expensive clothes.  And everyone in Italy had at least a cousin that was in the mafia.

But for the most part I was wrong about these Italian stereotypes.  Yes, the majority of Italians do talk a lot with their hands but its always to convey some point they are making better.  I was right about the women being beautiful and dressing to the nines for every occasion but surprisingly Italian men dress just as well.  Now the mafia stereotype was very much a stereotype in my region but down south in Sicily having family in the mafia is not something to assume but its probably true.  One issue with Italian stereotypes is that Italy is still so new to me and each region is so culturally different that most of the stereotypes I know are about the American-Italians.  Within Italy there are pretty major stereotypes between the different regions and I found a small list online that compiles it pretty well.

Apulians – Pugliesi, Apulians, are said to be proud and ironic opportunists.

Calabrians– People from Calabria are considered mistrustful and stubborn.

Genoeses and Ligurians – People from Genoa  and, more in general, from the region of Liguria, are said to be tirchi or stingy.

Lucani – People from Basilicata are considered stubborn.

Milaneses – People from Milan are renowned, following the cliché, for being arrogant, cold and efficient in the working world.

Neapolitans – people from Naples are considered noisy, superstitious and good at making pizza.

Piedmonteses – There is an Italian saying referring to people coming from Piedmont: Piemontese falso e cortese, which means Piedmontese are kind, but false.

Romagnoles – People from Romagna are famous for being passionate, greedy and feisty.

Romans – Two adjectives are often attributed to people from Rome: noisy and burini, the Roman dialect equivalent of being a hillbilly.

Sardinians – People from this gorgeous island are said to be proud, stubborn hicks.

Sicilians – People from Sicily are labeled as omertosi, meaning that they don’t talk especially when it comes to denouncing

I know there are a lot of stereotypes about Americans but I am glad to say the group I am with breaks a lot of them.  I think many Europeans view Americans as fat, arrogant, gun toting, and loud.  Which I hate to say it but, that isn’t too far off depending on where you go in America.  My group in Italy is different we are relatively fit, the majority of us are invested in the culture here and try to leave our arrogance at home, there don’t seem to be too many gun toting Americans, and finally we are defiantly loud.  I think most of these stereotypes have emerged because of media portrayal and are very loosely based on facts, much like our stereotypes of other cultures.  Stereotypes are defiantly used to fill a vacuum made from a lack of understanding like Adel suggests.  However, in a few instances the stereotypes are very true and completely accurate of what life is really like.  The image I chose to accompany this travel log is one of the ones I found when I googled “American stereotypes.”  I think it accurately represents the extreme version of the fat, arrogant, gun toting, and loud American that some people might jump to think about.  I do however think that interacting with any of the students in my abroad program would quickly change a persons’ view of a stereotypical American.  I think the only way to get rid of stereotypes is to go out and meet people from that culture.us-stereotype2

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

-Stephen Hawking

Works cited

Stephen Hawking quote

Fat American Image

Italian regional stereotypes

Travel Log 9 “Exploring Stereotypes” By Alexandra Borges. Cardiff, Wales.

It’s interesting to consider that labels and stereotypes lead society, even if we claim their negativity. In truth no matter where you live you grow up in a society where you are judged by who you are, what you wear, how you speak, and discriminated by the idiosyncrasies that make you an individual. Even now temporarily living in a different country does not change this fact. If anything it makes one aware of the views of different people on another’s nationality and the concept of foreigners. Overall, it only seems fair to try to discourage this behavior as it only breeds hatred toward its target and even nations. In order to create unity we need to enlighten people of their misconceptions of those that they not of. Acceptance, instead, is what we should spread. This is what it means to be part of the global community to express the change you want to see in the world, you must first practice it.

Since arriving in Cardiff, I can’t say that I’ve been immune from the stereotypes of Americans, but it’s not something that actually offends me. I’m well aware of the stereotypes and as such deal with them accordingly when faced with them, whether they are true or false. I think the most trivial so far have been ranged on a very extreme scale. First is Americans are rich snobs that have anything and everything they desire. The other Americans are lazy and obnoxious. Personal favorite all Americans are the same, and we act like we own everything and have a disregard towards self-preservation. In other words we are wild and crazy. Clearly “Americans” have quite the reputation, we apparently are partiers and have no regard for anything that doesn’t benefit us. Now obviously the majority if not all, are not true, at least they don’t represent the majority of the nation. However, it is the actions of those set few that create such stereotypes that en-capture all Americans that visit other nations.

To be very honest since being here I’ve been told more times than not that I don’t seem “American” at all because of notions held by people here of how an “American” should act, which makes me laugh. I mean in the time that I’ve been here I think I cleared away previous notions and answered nagging questions that the people here in Wales have been dying to know the answers to. Just the other day one of my Welsh flat mates asked about Thanksgiving and what the background story for the holiday was. In all seriousness, stereotypes are created in the basis of what people don’t know, it stems from their curiosity and not being able/ being to proud to ask for answers. Again the other day my entire floor got into a heated debate with how to pronounce “Nike” and “Nutella” it was the most obscured thing you could imagine. You can guess of course how it was split up “The Americans” vs. “The Welsh/British”. Needless to say regardless of the jabs about how we say “tomatoes” and what not, I think we handled it rather efficiently. Instead of preaching how “our” way (American) was the correct way, I searched up the pronunciations and presented them to the group, thus the heated debate was settled. Although settled it doesn’t mean to say that throughout the debate there was no mentions of wars or certain sides always wanting to be right. There were comments like “ that’s Americans for you.” Or “ just because you won the war doesn’t make everything you do right”. Clearly these were all in jest but it still stands to be seen that stereotypes and past history still runs deep.

I personally had not stereotypes in which to place on the people of Wales. I think I came here pretty open-minded. Then again it also could have been the fact that I considered Wales as a possibly part of my family lineage that I did not want anything to sway my response to it and its people. Everyday I learn something new about Wales, its people, and its culture and I hope to continue to do so whether it be in a positive or negative light.

In our generation I think that because we are more exposed to the world via social media and the like the stereotypes have somewhat died down although not gone. In my experience there is more of a yearning to know about another’s country than to dirty its name. I’m not saying that, that is true of every country a student/person may visit. I am merely stating that, that has been my experience thus far in Wales. As Clifton Fadiman wrote, “ When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” Don’t expect to be at home in every country you go to. Some more than others may view you completely through these stereotypes and others will know enough to ask you questions about how you actually live. Have I faced stereotypes, yes. Were they as negative as they could have been, No. A study Abroad students job is not to become misguided by anger, but rather to enlighten those who think of their home country (the study abroad student’s) in a negative light. This is all in the spirit of learning of becoming responsible citizen within the global community, to carry the torch of enlightenment throughout your journey.

To be quite honest I’m not really sure what stereotypes of what Americans think about Wales. All I can come up with is that they probably think that when someone says UK, they think England.

From Act Global Blog

From Act Global Blog

However, the UK is comprises of many different countries.  Maybe they even think that because of the different dialects that we speak it too hard to understand or even that the way they say things makes no sense. I couldn’t really tell you because the sad fact remains that I don’t think many American people know a whole lot Wales to give them a stereotype. Regardless of whether or not they do I think it would be better to communicate your curiosity in a better way. As the saying goes “people fear what they don’t know” unfortunately even people may deny it but that is the premise of stereotyping.  I think that this picture is a good representative of the things we should be teaching and communicating to the world. These are all people, they are not the actions of an extreme group, they are not their country’s past crimes, they are not any different from you and I.

Travel Log 9: “Stereotypes” by Kait Shortell; Paris, France

Studying abroad has caused me to reconsider several stereotypes, and how stereotypes form in the first place. In the beginning of Slimbach’s Becoming World Wise he wrote, “But what happens if you are the kind of person, culture, or nation that doesn’t “flatten” so easily?” (Slimbach 16). I thought that this was such a great way to word this question. Because that is, in fact, what a stereotype does. It tries in confine all the people of one place into a simple definition because its just easier to understand the differences that way. When in reality, we are just making it more difficult, by closing our mind to something we don’t understand with ease.

I have spent most of my time pulling apart the French and American stereotypes of each other. One stereotype I found interesting and on more then one occasion, was a French stereotype of Americans. I talked with a stranger at a café and the conversation eventually evolved to his view and the general French opinion of Americans. He said that he sees and experienced most Americans, particularly the girls, as being very shallow. This of course was a very blunt statement considering he was talking face to face with, in fact, an American girl. I, surprisingly, wasn’t offended by the comment at all. I knew the French had their opinions, and that was ok, I had mine. This man had also never spent any extended time in America. I further questioned what brought on this stereotype. He stated that most Americans he encountered could never hold a deep conversation. He said that Americans struggle with such conversations due to our materialistic culture, which was something I expected to hear. By the end of a very long conversation he told me he was pleasantly surprised with my ability to have a deep and serious conversation, that he never would have expected it from me. I guess that was a good thing. Interestingly enough, my home-stay said the same thing. That Americans were shallow. She quickly apologized but said she was telling me the honest French opinion. Again, unoffended, I questioned why. She said that she believes that Americans do not spend enough time reflecting, on themselves, and their lives. I thought it was ironic considering the major part of this course that values the importance of reflection. I cannot say for sure why this particular stereotype has come to be. I think it may be mostly due to just the differences in culture. The lifestyle here is much slower, and laid back. Where as at home, it’s go, go, go. I don’t necessarily think it makes Americans “shallow”. We just hold different values. The French value their time off, and work a lot less vigorously then Americans, who value their work and accomplishments more then the French. After being in France for almost two months now, I also have come to the realization that “culture” is a thing that develops over a very long, long time. France is around 2,000 years old, and there are some European countries that are even older. America is so incredibly young compared to them. We haven’t been around long enough to have even close to as strong and deep-rooted of a culture as they do, we don’t have as much to hold as they do, and I think that is so important to recognize.

As far as French stereotypes from the Americans point of view, I would say the biggest and most common is the idea that the French are rude, and dislike Americans. I haven’t found that to be very true. I will explain with an example that may be relatable. Lets say we are at work (whatever your work is), and someone comes up to us, and speaks only Spanish, and is clearly a foreigner. You have no idea what
they are asking you and the language barrier quickly becomes frustrating, and you may say to yourself, “we are in America, why don’t you speak English?” The same concept applies in France. Their language is French, and while visiting (or living) in their country, we sh
uld make a conscious effort to speak their language. I have noticed such a huge difference in the response to someone who will make an effort to ask a question in French versus when they walk up to someone and begin speaking English, which I personally feel that I understand to an extent. I think it’s just a polite gesture to make the effort, and it goes a long way

All in all, I struggle with the topic of stereotypes. I don’t like the word “stereotypes” I feel it comes with a very negative connotation, and most of the time, there is not enough evidence to back up a stereotype. Every culture has their own way of living life, and that is what maimages
kes each one so unique, and exciting to dive into. We cannot say that one is better then the other. And we cannot view anothe
r culture, using ours as a frame of reference, because then the culture is being compared to our own, and it will never be “right” because it’s not “ours”.  Unfortunately, it’s very hard for people to distinguish that mindset, and that is when we see these negative opinions of one another become apparent, as I have seen between the French and Americans.

I chose this photo because I think its one of those types of pictures that speaks for itself. We are all individually unique, when you look past stereotypes, yet we are all the same, in that we are all human. Its a very fine line, but worth taking the time to understand.

Travel Log 9 “Exploring Stereotypes” by Doug Beebe; London, UK

imageThere are so many stereotypes that we put groups of people into and you never really realize how true or untrue they are until you live in that country. When I decided to study in London there was a whole slew of stereotypes flying through my head about British people and the U.K. itself, and for the most part all of them were true.
One of the most prominent stereotypes of British people as a whole is the fact that they do not like to engage in conversation with strangers what-so-ever. Whether it be walking down the street or sitting on the tube, Londoners are without a doubt always reading a news paper or engulfed in phone. When I first thought of going to London and then thinking of this stereotype I thought I would fit in perfect! Being a more introverted person I thought that I could just blend in with the crowd and not really have to worry about people coming up to me and trying to spark a conversation, but rather I could walk down the street in peace or sit on the tube without having to hear 10 different conversations going on at once. While I thought this would be really nice when I first arrived in London, I soon began to realize that I wouldn’t really mind people starting a conversation with me, or being open to having a conversation with a stranger because it would be great to get to know Londoners.
With that being said, a stereotype I did not know about when I arrived in London was how much the British drink. There is no doubt that if on any day of the week you walk down the street around 5-6 at night the pubs will be overflowing into the street with people holding pints in their hands. They often joke that it is because of the weather that they drink so much, but I think it is just their culture to go out for a few drinks every night. I also now know that if I ever want to talk to a British person, you just have to buy them a pint to get them a little drunk and then they will never shut up.
I think the most prominent or well known stereotype of the U.K., though, is the fact that it rains here all the time. This was one of the things that I was not looking forward to when I decided to come here because there is nothing worse than it being gloomy and rainy all the time. I thought that it was going to drive me to drink just like the British just to get through it. But this one, thankfully was busted. I have been studying here for about a month and half and have probably had a total of 3-4 actual rainy days. When I usually think of rain back home I think of a wash out, a day where it is completely down pouring and if you were to step outside you would immediately be drenched from head to toe. But in London their rain is a slow on and off rain that is almost more of a nuisance than actual rain.
In terms of stereotypes that British people have towards Americans that I have noticed is that fact that we are considered very loud and British people often fancy our perfectly straight and white teeth. As I said before, the Brits are very to themselves and don’t really share much about themselves, unless they are drunk, where as Americans are an open book and feel that anything is free rein to talk about. I feel that this mainly comes with the culture, British people are more likely to be extremely proper, eat all of their meals with a fork and knife (even if it’s a hamburger) and will say that they have to use the Lou where as us Americans will dig right in with our hands to eat that burger and will often just say “I have to pee.”
By living amongst these different stereotypes I really feel like you are able to learn so much about yourself and your host country.

Travel Log 9: “ Exploring Stereotypes” by Jill Berlant; Perugia Italy

Italy has a many stereotypes, I never feed into them because I am Italian so I knew before coming that what most people thought of Italians was not true. When most Americans think of Italy they think of American-Italian foods. They think of chicken parmesan, penne alla vodka, and spaghetti with meatballs. Well now that I have been living here for two months I can safely say that these foods do not exist in Italy and that it was the Italians that came to America that started these traditions. Perhaps in tourist city you can possibly find these items. Pizza is Italian, but real pizza comes from Naples, if you have a Neapolitan making your pizza it can be consider being a high quality pizza. Pizza in the rest of Italy is still amazing however to people in Naples it is not the real thing. In New Jersey and New York pizza go back further in history than some pizza places in central and northern Italy.023124dd307a696d5b7f7a89c5334a84 I think another stereotype is that people think of Guido’s as an Italian stereotype, but Italians are short and do not lift heavy weights to try to get big. The old television shows all about Guido’s are not a representation of Italy or New Jersey. There is a stereotype that everyone is connected to the mafia, this is also not true. The mafia does exist but most people are not involved and stay away from it. Italy is so big and in different regions within it they have certain stereotypes. It seems that everyone has stereotypes, but in the end they are not always true.

There are some stereotypes that are good and true for example Italians like to dress nice and look good. This is true for most Italians; they always look well put together because appearances are very important. Milan is also considered the fashion capital of the world. Another stereotype is that Italian families are very close. The children tend to live at home for a while after graduating because it is very difficult for young people to find jobs. Which then makes it seem like they choose to not want to move out. Another positive stereotype is that Italians love strong coffee; they usual do not even eat a breakfast and just have there coffee in the mornings. I think that Italian coffee is the best I have ever had.

As I live in Italy none of the Italians I have talked to judge me for being American, most of the time they think I am from Europe and think I could speak Dutch or Swedish. I think I dress and blend in better than the other Americans. The odd thing is when I talk to other abroad students is when I get stereotyped. I am from New Jersey and when I tell people that they get very surprised and wondering why I do not have an accent. I then have to explain that most people from New Jersey do not have an accent, it is really more of a New York accent if anything, but even most people from New York do not even have it. Then they ask about the jersey shore, and I explain how there are many different parts of the shore then just seaside and that once again that those stereotypes are not all true. We do have a lot of malls and highways, but there is more to New Jersey then most people think.

I think that in the states we have more stereotypes about other states than the countries in Europe. In Europe many people travel and explore the different countries, so they can gain a better understanding. In the America, it seems more people are quick to judge and have much more to say about a stereotypes especially about the different states.

Travel Log 9 “Exploring Stereotypes” by Kristen Sullivan. Barcelona, Spain

Stereotypes are a prevalent part of our every day lives. The definition of a stereotype is “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” Stereotypes are a simple generalization of a group of people based off of characteristics. Hafez Adul refers to stereotypes as a “shortcut to understanding complex matters.” The problem with stereotypes is that they can either be positive or negative and, more often than not, people focus too much on stereotypes and fail to form their own opinions.

Coming to Spain, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of stereotypes. Many people I talked to relayed to me that Spanish people were often slow and lazy, so I had that stereotype in the back of my mind. After living in Spain for over two months, I understand where the stereotype comes from, but I don’t think it should portrayed in a negative way. Spain is famous for “siesta” which is a time where many restaurants and shops close from two until five so they can have a big meal and nap. Although I understand from the outside why that could be seen as lazy, it is a huge part of their culture. They take that time to really enjoy their meal and socialize with family and friends. It is not that they don’t want to work, it’s simply a tradition. This concept might seem unusual from the American perspective. I won’t discount the fact that it took some getting used to as an American, but now I understand its purpose and value.

Another common stereotype of Spanish people is that two huge forms of entertainment are bullfighting and soccer. The stereotype of bullfighting was not true for Barcelona. They outlawed bullfighting and all their bullfighting arenas were turned into shopping malls. In other places in Spain, such as Madrid, bullfighting is still common, but not all Spanish people enjoy it. The stereotype about Spanish people enjoying soccer as a form of entertainment is an understatement. They absolutely love it and it is a huge part of the culture here. When FC Barcelona is playing, the bars are packed and everyone is in their jerseys. It is impossible to get tickets for games even far in advance. It is something that they all unite over and take pride in.

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After living in Spain for 2 months, I have gotten to evaluate and understand the stereotypes for myself. It has changed my perspective on so many generalizations that I had prior to living here. Because the majority of residents from my host-culture have not lived in America, they have many stereotypes of us. At my university in Barcelona, my classes are comprised of students from all over the world. In my cross-cultural management class in particular we have talked about stereotypes of all of our home countries in regard to business. Many students in my class have expressed that they believe many Americans are very fast-paced, hard-working, and arrogant. Although it is strange to hear students from Spain, Brazil, Taiwan, Germany, France, and Italy stereotype Americans by these things, I can see some validity in them. In contrast to Spain, America is fast-paced and our lives often revolve around work. This is not necessarily a negative stereotype, it is just a difference. When they first said that Americans were arrogant I was offended, but they explained this by saying that we don’t encourage learning other languages in schools and expect everyone to speak English because we do. In most other countries, especially in Europe, people speak multiple languages. Although I still don’t see my home-country as arrogant, I understand their reasoning. It is difficult to overcome generalizations and stereotypes unless you take the time to dig a little deeper and find out the root of the stereotype and attempt to understand it from the host-culture’s point of view.

Travel Log 9 “Exploring Stereotypes” by Nicoline Lovisa Tegnell. Barcelona, Spain.

Coming into my study abroad experience, it would be a lie to say that I had no stereotypes about Spanish people. Although I wanted to come in with the most open mind possible, I did still have stereotypes that I wanted to find out for myself if they were valid. Studying abroad had made me completely reconsider all of these stereotypes. Many of the things that I thought about Spanish people, those from Barcelona in general, are false. First and most importantly, I thought everyone in Spain spoke Spanish, this was completely untrue considering Barcelona is in the Catalonia region, where they speak Catalan. They understand Spanish as well but when walking on the streets and attempting to understand others conversations, I rarely do because they speak to each other in Catalan. Also, I thought that bull fighting was extremely popular in Barcelona. Since being here though, I have found out that bull-fighting is not even legal in Barcelona at all. The bull-fighting rings present in Barcelona have been converted to other things now, one is mall and one is a monument. Also, having spoken to many of the locals about it, they seem to be unanimously against bull-fighting and are happy to have seen it leave Barcelona and have hopes for it to leave the rest of Spain as well. I also came into this experience with a stereotype for how Spanish people looked. I assumed they all had dark hair, dark eyes, and dark features. This is also incorrect as I have discovered that like Americans, Spanish people are also very diverse.

Having gotten closer to some of my professors here, I decided to discuss stereotypes of Americans with my professor Toni, who I had also had an earlier conversation with for this class. Toni told me that because he is a study abroad professor, his friends often ask him many crazy questions about Americans, and that Americans seem to intrigue his friends a lot. He told me that his friends often ask him if Americans wear sandals and shorts all year long. I found this stereotype of us extremely funny. I can also see why this stereotype came about because right now it is almost November and the temperatures in Barcelona are still in the low 70s. However, the Spanish people have begun to dress in their winter clothes. They wear jackets and scarves and hats while we still think its warm and nice outside so we do still wear sandals and shorts some days. We even are planning a beach trip this week! One stereotype that I was pretty upset by was when Toni told me that his friends have also asked him if all American students bring guns to school. I was shocked by this. But, as I sat back and began to think, I can at least understand the question. The Spanish people watch the news and hear about tragic school shootings in America and about horrors that happen rather than all of the good things and positive impacts that American students make as well. The news tends to focus on the negative things that American students do rather than the positives so the Spanish people are not getting the full story. This is definitely a stereotype that emerged to “fill a vacuum of knowledge” as Adel says because the Spanish people do not know the full story about American students and are not given all sides of them like all the positive impacts we make as well such as community service, clubs, raising money for various different organizations, donating clothing, food, and money, and so many more. Because they are not given the full, complex story about us, they take the small information they have and make assumptions and stereotypes based on that which is nothing we can blame them for because it is the same thing that everyone does.

The picture that I chose to post is the American stereotype of all Spanish people being flamenco dancers and bull fighters. This stereotype can be both offensive and rude to the Spanish people. To label one entire group of people as one thing puts them down as a culture and makes them less than what they are. Spanish people have so much beautiful and rich culture behind them and flamenco dancing and bull fighting is a part of that that is treasured by them, and by us as tourists. We need to appreciate this but not make this their entire being.

American stereotype of the Spanish. Taken from www.thegaurdian.com. Fall15.

American stereotype of the Spanish. Taken from http://www.thegaurdian.com. Fall15.

Travel Log 9: “Exploring Stereotypes” by Stephanie Schmitt. Florence, Italy

Stereotypes are generalizations about groups of people and they can either be negative or positive. They are often created and sustained to help people who are unfamiliar with the other culture understand something about it. As Hafez Adul said, “…stereotypes endure because they provide a comfortable shortcut to understanding complex matters and that they usually emerge to fill a vacuum of knowledge.” People spread stereotypes because they are ignorant of the truth and it is sometimes easier to give a generic answer, than a detailed one.

One of the biggest stereotypes that I came to Italy with that Italians are lazy. I heard that Italians walk slow and do not have much of an urgency to do anything. While I have noticed that Italians do things slower than Americans, I do not think it is something that should be associated with negativity at all. Italians move slower so that they can appreciate things to the fullest extent. There is a phrase here, “La dolce vita,” the sweet life, that explains how Italians live. They don’t want to move fast because they don’t want to miss any of the sweetness life has to offer. If you ask me, I think that’s a pretty good way to live. wine

Another stereotype that I had of Italians was that they love wine, and a lot of it. The first part of this statement is true. Italians do love wine and they have a deep appreciation for how the wine is made and what separates certain wines from others. However, people do not drink to get drunk and getting drunk is incredibly frowned upon. It is pretty much a dead giveaway that people are American when they are seen stumbling down the street or taking shots in bars. Italians will casually drink one or two glasses of wine or cocktails with friends to enjoy the taste, but they do not drink in excess. The picture I chose represents the true wine culture in Italy. Wine is usually enjoyed with some food, to prevent getting drunk, and it is sipped casually in company of friends.

One stereotype that was only brought to my attention upon arriving in Italy is that Italian women are rude. This stereotype is mostly spread by men, which makes sense. Maybe the men created this stereotype to protect their egos after being shut down by so many women. In all seriousness, I have noticed that Italian women in general can be colder than many American women. They are not as friendly and are not as quick to trust. Some people say that this is a reaction to the overly-affectionate Italian male counterpart. Italian men love to yell at women and tell them how beautiful they are, so people say that women have become numb to this and give off a cold vibe to keep away the hecklers. While some Italian women are cold, this is not the rule at all. I have met many Italian women who are kinder and more welcoming than many American women. I think this is the biggest thing I have learned about stereotypes. Sometimes they have a little bit of merit, but many times they are not the rule. People in other cultures, just like in America, are individuals and they all operate differently. It is unfair to generalize traits over a whole culture, when there are so many different personalities that make it up.

While I have not had the chance to discuss stereotypes about Americans with many Italians, I did meet a couple of Canadians with whom I discussed stereotypes surrounding each of the cultures. They said that they believed that Americans are generally more blunt in their delivery than people from Canada or other countries. One of them made the joke that it would take a Canadian 25 words to say what an American can say in 3. Even though before I said that I think it is unfair to generalize about a culture, I do believe that this stereotype has some truth. I have noticed that Americans will come right out and ask a question. We are very confident people. I think that this stereotype may have developed in part because it is true, but also to explain why Americans can seem rude and loud. People from other countries are probably a little put off by our boldness, so if they know what to expect before dealing with an American, it may be comforting. In this way, I guess that stereotypes can be truthful and helpful.