Stereotypes of an American Abroad

By Louis Capon

According to the Office of Internationalization at the University of Denver it is crucial to understand the culture of the country you are visiting as well as their attitude and stereotypes towards Americans. With 29% of American adults having never traveled abroad, it’s fair to say many Americans have little idea of how their country is perceived abroad.

With over 70% of University of Denver Students studying abroad, DU focuses its attention towards various institutions and countries worldwide. Studying abroad is a phenomenal opportunity to learn about a new culture as well as learn about one’s own from similarities, differences, and the perceptions of others abroad.

Chris Carr, a Sophomore set to study abroad in Glasgow identified many negative stereotypes of Americans he expects to encounter while abroad. He said Americans are typically stereotyped as fat, loud, and obnoxious and because of this he feels many people, “will start off with a negative opinion of you.” But he also echoed a sentiment found across all my interviews which is hopefulness to break down these negative stereotypes while abroad.

“I mean I’m not obese, and I’m pretty quiet, so these really shouldn’t affect me.” However, these stereotypes will affect how certain people interact with you and it is important to understand them and be ready for them, according to the Office of Internationalization at the University of Denver. The OIE even takes steps to educate students about these stereotypes so that they are prepared for them. Using a video in their mandatory study abroad meeting which details stereotypes encountered by Americans as well as stereotypes of Americans from different International students.

Ruby Tedeschi, a Sophomore at Denver, will be studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador as apart of the SIT Conservation, Biology, and Ecology program. Having traveled extensively before, Ruby is aware that everywhere and everyone has a different opinion and attitude toward Americans. When asked if she was worried about negative stereotypes affecting her experience she responded, “I guess a little bit, but I think it really can depend on how you handle yourself.”

Ruby said, “There’s a lot of desire to be similar to American culture, then I think there’s also a lot of hate for American culture, and I think both are kind of warranted.”

“I’m excited to go and present myself hopefully as a non-stereotypical American in the ways that are negative…”

Another DU student studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, Kenzie Maloney, echoed the same sentiment, saying, “I expect I’ll show people with these stereotypes that they are not true for all Americans.” These stereotypes are huge generalizations rooted in small fact. Americans are more open and loud than most cultures are, but that does not mean the exaggerated stereotype is true. Kenzie also mentioned how we as Americans are guilty of stereotyping a lot of other cultures. She explained this stems from differences in culture and, “is our way of making sense of these differences.”

Our stereotypes of other cultures as well as theirs of ours can only be broken down through experience, and that comes from travel as well as an open-mindedness. It is important for DU students to maintain this openness and allow members of the new culture to break down their stereotypes just how they expect to be given the same chance. DU students will learn lots about these cultures

 

Chris Carr

Chris

Sophomore Business Management Major

Studying abroad in Glasgow, Scotland

“What stereotypes of Americans do you think you will face while abroad?”

“Maybe that we’re loud, obnoxious people, feel like that’s pretty common”

 

Ruby Tedeschi

Ruby

Sophomore Environmental Science Major

Studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador

“Are you concerned at all about American stereotypes while abroad?”

“I guess a little bit, but I think it can really depend on how you handle yourself. I’ve had a few experiences going to other countries, and I think every country has a different standpoint on how they see Americans and I think every person has a different opinion on it.”

 

Kenzie Maloney

Kenz

Sophomore Biology and Psychology Major

Studying abroad in Madrid, Spain

“Are you worried about these stereotypes negatively affecting your experience?”

“I don’t know exactly what its going to be like but I expect to be given the chance to discuss these stereotypes and prove that these are not defining for all Americans”

 

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One thought on “Stereotypes of an American Abroad

  1. Louis- nice article. As a DU student who did not travel abroad it was an interesting read. I am sure the perception of American students is based not only off actions, but also head lines and things foreigners read about us online. It seems that every day there is a sexual assault on a campus, a Greek organization is kicked off, or a student is hurt due to binge drinking. I think that before we can start to change our image abroad, we need to change it at home first.

    Like

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