Studying overseas includes dealing with your host culture’s stereotypes about you and coming to grips with your own stereotypes about the host culture. It is necessary to recognize that not everyone in your host country is going to behave like a character out of a comic book. For example, not all Australians dress like Crocodile Dundee, and not all Chinese know martial arts. Keep in mind some stereotypes of “typical” Americans:
Some stereotypes can lead to prejudice against a group or nationality. Students may encounter overt hostility toward Americans while overseas. Verbal insults are the most common and least dangerous form. Students who find themselves in such situations should simply walk away.
Following are some questions and generalizations about the United States that you may hear in another country. If these or similar questions are posed to you while abroad, try not to become defensive. Address them by being patient, open-minded and gracious. Keep a sense of humor. Sometimes you can deflect them by asking about the host culture. Remember that you are there to learn about another culture, not to promote and become entrenched in your own.
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