Must Love Elephants
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 400 • f 5.6 • 1/80 sec
“But… all Americans LOVE elephants!” the merchant said, shoving a carved stone sculpture into my hand. He was sure that if I bought the souvenier to take home, it would be an instant hit. I’ve run across the same thing in India and Thailand now. What is it with Asians thinking Westerners love elephants?? Well, at least these guys didn’t expect us to be running around in bikinis.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve seen many generalizations and stereotypes on my travels, in all ethnic directions. Some of them are pretty funny, actually. Many have heard the old joke: “In heaven, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the bosses are Swiss, the cops are British, and the lovers are Italian. In hell, the cooks are British, the mechanics are French, the cops are Italian, the bosses are German, and the lovers are Swiss.” A graphic designer has even created maps of common stereotypes (Note: semi-NSFW due to language) and another blogger made a top 10 list.
When traveling, I am often confronted by the stereotypical American mindset that thinks I’m rich, ignorant, liberal and like to eat lots & lots & lots of food. As frustrating as that can be, I’m not the only one that gets it. My boyfriend is Tawianese by birth, but raised by Americans. Recently he was at a Chinese restaurant, and someone asked him to find them a seat. Also, a disgruntled cashier at a grocery store expected him to try to haggle the price, just like the Burmese guys that were in line in front of him. When he travels abroad, people don’t believe he’s American because he doesn’t “look like one,” whatever that means. At least we both get a good laugh out of it.
What stereotypes have you faced when traveling? What ones do you hold about other ethnicities/countries?