Learning the American Stereotype

Since it’s the 4th of July today, I figured it would be a good time to talk about my experiences as an American abroad! Back at home, I can’t say I ever thought much about being an American. But in Croatia, I think about it at least few times a week. It most often comes up when I’m at a store. I’ll be waiting in line and know when I get up to the counter the worker will greet me in Croatian, in which I will have to reply hello, which obviously indicates to them that I don’t know any Croatian! Or, I don’t even have to say anything, many times I think the look on my face shows I have no idea what they just said. I have found even in the capital of Zagreb, which is not foreign to tourists, the level of friendliness often goes down. Just today, I went to get a coffee before work. When I started speaking English, she was still friendly, but when I gave her 10 kuna for my 7 kuna coffee, I was given no change back. It made me think that even though it could have been an innocent mistake, it is hard not to think that she figured I wouldn’t notice that I needed change back due to me being a foreigner. None of the things I have noticed have obviously been that big of a deal, but it is still interesting to see how you are treated different as a foreigner.

I have also learned various stereotypes Americans have from various foreigners. For example, my Croatian coworker said she can always tell when it is an American because they are walking fast and look like they are in a rush. My German roommate said he and many other Germans always associate Americans with the Military, due to the large presence of the American Military in various bases around Germany.

This weekend Alyssa and I are off to Zurich. I’m excited to see another beautiful European city, not as excited to sit 12 hours on a bus!


One thought on “Learning the American Stereotype

  • July 12, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    The traveler stereotypes about Americans can be really tough to counter especially when you face them on a fairly consistent basis. It’s admirable, however, that you are not letting day to day interactions get the best of you. The negative perceptions are already there and in contrast, it often takes more work to build positive perceptions. The fact that you are showing the effort to learn as well as actively reflect on the origins and perspectives local residents have about Americans is encouraging. The silver lining in all of this could be that while folks consider their American identity more often, it could also serve to encourage individuals to present external audiences with the best representation of Americans.


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