Americans for Foreigners

>> Friday, June 22, 2012

by Norman Rockwell
Alright, so maybe I'm a little prejudiced. I am, after all, American. But I felt a need to explain. It's all fun and games to read the stereotypes of different countries. Until it's you.
I was flipping through "The Xenophobe's Guide to Americans"--just for fun--and I couldn't help but feel a little...insulted.

And I thought I'd better bust some myths about us.
(Note: This is just me. I can't vouch for every American.)

1. "Americans are loud, brash, and juvenile"

Not all Americans are alike. I'm sorry to say, but we're not. We have a national identity, of course--Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. But some of us are quiet and reserved while some of us are outgoing. We're all from different walks of life. Someone who lives in New York is vastly different from someone who lives in Arizona, and they're both vastly different from someone who lives in Minnesota. And yet we're all linked by the freedoms we have.
As for "loud and brash and juvenile"--yes, some of us are. Of course, the book also claimed that all Americans say they're different/better than the others, so maybe foreigners wouldn't believe me if I told them that I know lots of brash and materialistic Americans, but I also know many intelligent Americans who think before they speak.
What others call being loud and informal we call being friendly and outgoing. And though some of us form quick attachments to other people, a lot of us are more cautious in making friends. It takes time to really know someone.

2. "Americans are sloppy"

What foreigners call "sloppy" we call "comfortable". We don't go for stuffy and stiff. We didn't have five-hundred years of aristocracy to give us that. We wear what's comfortable, though I would like to point out that we dress up for important events like graduations and job interviews.
 And, no, we're not all fat. Some of us only eat out at restaurants five times a year, believe it or not. And yes, impolite people are looked down upon. It's very important to be polite in America. Although we couldn't care less which way to position the spoon on the plate after we're done with it. That's just not important. As long as you chew with your mouth closed, and don't interrupt someone, and be kind, you're polite.

3. "Americans don't travel much"

I know many people who travel to different countries. But the thing is, our own country is so varied and big that we travel here as well. And we love foreign travelers, and we love to talk to them about the world outside. Unfortunately, I know some Americans who, when traveling abroad, mistakenly think that everyone should speak English too. But they are not the rule.
Also, when we say "I'm Polish" or "I'm Italian", even though we never visited the country or spoken the language, we are simply describing our heritage. There is no need to explain that we are not literally Polish. That is quite obvious.


Marian June 22, 2012 at 7:47 AM  

It's funny you should mention this, as it was a topic on my mind just yesterday or the day before. :) I heartily agree with you on all of those (although I do think Londoners take dressing up, even for a workday, more seriously than we do). I just hate stereotypes. Fortunately, the internet is helping people get a more accurate view (of all nationalities and ethnicities).

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