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- Americans have garnered several negative stereotypes around the world.
- They include beliefs that Americans are entitled and arrogant and that Americans are obsessed with their jobs.
- Here are the worst stereotypes I heard while traveling to 25 countries.
Every country has its stereotypes, both good and bad.
As one of the biggest populations in the world, Americans have garnered an outsize number of negative stereotypes, like the belief that all Americans are rich or that Americans are way too obsessed with their jobs. That’s what I learned after traveling to 25 different countries, ranging from South America to Europe to Southeast Asia.
Read on to see what non-Americans really think of people from the US.
All Americans are rich
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One of the most widely believed stereotypes I encountered while traveling was that all Americans are rich. Not just “I can afford to not haggle at the night market” rich, but “multiple cars and houses back home” rich.
This stereotype is fueled in part by America’s powerful global economic standing. But despite the country’s reputation, plenty of Americans know that the wealth of the country doesn’t always transfer to all its citizens, and there are millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet.
Americans are overly patriotic
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Americans have a reputation for being overly patriotic. Many first-time visitors to the US are surprised by the preponderance of American flags waving from our schools, offices, and homes, and it’s pretty common to hear Americans proclaim their country the greatest on Earth.
Americans are ignorant about the world
- Flickr/Jean-François Gornet
Hand in hand with Americans’ supposed superiority complex is an ignorance about the rest of the world, according to the stereotypes I heard while traveling.
It’s an unfortunate reality that many Americans who travel lack knowledge of the culture and customs of the country they are visiting, and worse yet, sometimes they don’t seem to care enough to learn.
Americans can combat this stereotype by engaging with people from other cultures abroad and making an effort to see things from their perspective.
Americans can only speak English
The United States is notoriously monolingual, perhaps more than any other country in the world.
This reality might not hold up to scrutiny: An increasing number of Americans, especially young ones, are able to communicate in a language other than English. On top of that, the underlying data might be flawed – the US Census Bureau may not be asking the right questions when it asks about language proficiency.
Travelers can’t be expected to become fluent in the local language of every country they travel to, but learning a few key phrases can go a long way toward building relationships with people you meet and earning their trust.
Americans are entitled
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American tourists also seem to have developed a reputation of entitlement.
Too often, Americans who travel to other countries expect locals to cater to their cultural preferences and worldviews. The same Americans may demand, rudely, that the locals speak English.
It’s important when you travel to remember that you are a guest in another country and should respect the customs and traditions of your host nation.
Americans are obsessed with work
This stereotype may have some basis in reality – Americans work an average of 47 hours a week, one of the highest figures in the world.
Meanwhile, in many European countries, the average is below 40 hours a week, and in Germany and Sweden, it’s closer to 35. On top of the crazy hours, the United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t guarantee any paid vacation for its workers. And what little paid leave American employees get, they often feel pressured not to take full advantage of.
Given that reality, it’s no surprise Americans have developed a reputation abroad for being slaves to their work.
And they don’t even understand soccer
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For some, this is the worst American stereotype of them all. Somehow, despite soccer being the most popular sport in almost every country and having an estimated 4 billion fans worldwide, Americans have largely resisted its charm.
Despite soccer’s slowly growing popularity in the US, the general lack of interest in the sport in America came as a shock to many non-Americans I encountered while traveling.