The Benefits of Travel – Culture


Americans can get a bad rap for being ignorant of other cultures.  One of the things that I’m most excited for in traveling to Europe is a chance to learn about other cultures.  In my travels to Mexico over the years, I have learned a lot about the

Mexican culture and I have loved every moment I have spent there.  The thing that I learned most, however, was of how false a lot of our American stereotypes are.  I believe that we have similar stereotypes on Europeans.

The main one I want to look at in this post is:

Europeans hate Americans

This seems to be the over-arching stereotype Americans believe about Europeans.  I know that I have toyed with the idea of pretending to be a Canadian while in Europe, but this stems from a very real stereotype many Americans have!

But why does this stereotype exist?  I believe it stems from political, social, and cultural differences.  We, generally, have different views on politics.  Global policy.  Alcohol.  Social issues.  We even think and react differently in any given situation.

Dr. George F Simmons wrote a fantastic article outlining common misunderstandings in behaviors between Americans and Europeans.  An interesting thing I noticed may help explain the stereotype!  Go down the list.  The way Europeans interpret many of the American behaviors are seen as: childish, foolish, aggressive, irresponsible, unreliable, over-reaching, wasteful.

How would you react to a childish, foolish, aggressive, irresponsible, unreliable, over-reaching, wasteful person?  It would probably seem like you hate them.  According to the European Commission, over five percent of the European economy is made from tourism.  Without people visiting Europe, many of the countries economies would be devastated. So, I think it is safe to say that Europeans don’t hate having people see their country.  In fact, most Europeans I have talked to over the years have done nothing but insist you visit their country.

So how do we break this stereotype, because I feel that Americans are just as responsible as Europeans. We need to be aware of our surroundings.  We are a guest in their beautiful country and we need to be aware of the way they view our behaviors.

One of the biggest tips for being aware of your surroundings as an American is to talk quieter.  Americans generally talk much louder than Europeans; this comes off noisy, childish, and disrespectful.

What are some other cultural differences you have noticed?

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