Typecast me not by Kathleen Hruska

Living in a foreign country can be full of adventure and excitement, with new and diverse cultures, food and people around every corner. It can also be frustrating, intimidating, and generally difficult. Whether positive or negative, our daily interpersonal interactions, no matter how large or minute, can greatly impact our mood and quality of life.

What kind of stereotypes have you experienced during your time abroad?

Did you have any yourself prior to arriving?

Were they positive or negative?

Typecast me not

 

 

As an American in France, I am often explaining that no, I do not drink Coke and eat McDonald’s for every meal. Nor am I overweight and on the brink of type II diabetes. As a professional volleyball player, these things would simply not add up. I would even venture to argue that my teammates in France have been more intrigued and eager to eat McDonald’s than those in the States. Not to say we don’t enjoy our fast food in the USA, but McDonald’s would never be my first choice.

 

There is also the notion that Americans are loud and brash. I would have to agree with this. After being here for six years, I can definitely tell if there is an American on the metro, shopping in a store, or walking down the sidewalk. Aside from the obvious language factor, there is the unnecessary tone and volume to their voice, in situations when people are generally unobtrusive, or speaking quietly with a friend, my compatriots are seemingly oblivious to these norms.

 

When I first discovered France, I definitely had preconceived notions about smoking and dog excrement cleanup (or lack thereof). The smoking is sadly true, with almost one third of the population lighting up. I am more accepting of it now, but it’s still not my favorite. Now the dog muck... It’s possible there is some sort of historical "explanation", but this is 2017, and most French cities are filled with people walking on the sidewalks. I simply don’t understand the logic of not cleaning up after your pet. Why make life miserable for the person ten steps behind you? If anyone can logically explain this please contact me immediately.

 

Aside from these small negative aspects, there is also the cute person we imagine as the typical ne as the typical français, wearing a striped shirt and beret, with a baguette over his/her shoulder. This is one of my favorite parts of France. The bread and pastries are definitely unmatched here. They are affordable, readily available, and locally made. Something that is so easily accessible here virtually doesn’t exist in the USA. Sure you can find nice fresh bread, but I think everyone will agree it doesn’t compare to French bakeries.

 

How have stereotypes impacted your life in France? Were they positive or negative?