For TALK students traveling abroad to study in the USA, you may already have a generalized idea of what you may expect of Americans as you have seen the movies, read about the celebrities, watched the news and TV shows. You expect to find all this when you step foot in your host country. This form of thought is called stereotyping. Stereotyping of Americans are oversimplified ideas and ethnic generalizations about the people of America. It categorizes that all Americans will act and do similar things when in fact it is quite opposite. The dangers of stereotyping can be quite harmful to you and to those around you. Here is some advice about the drawbacks of stereotyping Americans, and how your study abroad experience will be enriched when you set aside those Stereotypes.
Identify Stereotypes: In order to let go of your stereotypical perceptions of Americans, you need to first identify your stereotypes, and then measure them against your actual experience of the American that you meet. So, be observant and listen carefully to everybody, process what you see and what you learn from people – how they behave, how they communicate, what they say about themselves. You will soon see that each person you meet is an individual, and by doing this you will be able to help separate the real person from the stereotyped American.
Be Open Minded: When you have a stereotyped view of a group of people, you tend to have your mind that is closed to other possibilities. Try to be open-minded about your host culture, and don’t classify as a certain type of American. Your hosts will see this as a type of discrimination.
Positive Stereotypes of Americans
Friendliness: When traveling abroad you may have heard that Americans may not be warm and friendly to international travelers, but, this is simply not true. American are very friendly and welcoming to foreigners, especially to international students. They are very accommodating and wonderful hosts. International students feel very welcomed when living and studying in the USA.
Generosity: Americans are also said to be generous and kind-hearted, and this is indeed true. The US public yearly donates millions of dollars to charities all over the globe each year – far more than any other country in terms of individual contributions. They are a very compassionate people, who respect human rights and promote fairness in civic life and the business environment
Hardworking: Some stereotypes have it that Americans are lazy, but this is untrue. In fact, Americans are extremely hard-working, as it has been ingrained since birth that if you wish to succeed with anything, you need to work very hard to achieve it.