The good old United States of America
is a big presence in the world, from politics to entertainment to current events. It’s hard to stay away from the influence of the North American superpower, and that can work in the favour of the American nation - but does also mean that everyone has an opinion.
The stereotypes and preconceptions about the inhabitants of the USA are many and varied. Some are good, some are not so good. Some have quite the ring of truth, while others are a bit overblown. Here are a few of the ideas you might come up against when encountering travelers to the US or locals when you venture overseas.
1 . Americans are inward-looking
This is one of the biggest stereotypes that exist about citizens of the USA. Many people think that Americans are interested only in what’s happening in their own country, making them ignorant of the big wide world out there and a little bit arrogant to boot - the centre of the universe, in their own eyes at least.
While this may be true in some cases (we’ve probably all met THAT person before), it can also be true in any country in the world - all of which have citizens who focus inwards rather than out and aren’t interested in the big wide world. There are also many, many worldly Americans whose viewpoints are shaped by the globe rather than just their own country.
2 . Americans are friendly and smiling
This one’s a good one! Like the others, this theory will be both proved and disproved by various inhabitants of the USA, but overall we’d like to think it’s pretty true, and certainly have no reason to disagree.
There’s the odd place with a slightly surly reputation (Manhattan
, we’re looking at you), but the majority of Americans are happy to help, to chat and to meet new people. This is great news for visitors to the country! They are often also viewed as outgoing, which is helpful when it comes to making connections with foreigners.
3 . The food is delicious (If a little over-the-top)
Food is a big deal all over the world - and the USA has found its niche in big portions and unashamed comfort food. When the rest of the world thinks of eating in the United States, they tend to dream of big burgers, cheese fries, endless pies for dessert and bacon on everything.
Is it accurate? Obviously nobody eats like that all the time. However, go to a restaurant or diner and you’re likely to find the dishes mentioned above and more. Cheese and meat are used to great effect, as are delicious carbs, grease, salt and everything else that makes food taste extra good. It’s definitely something that those travelling to the US look forward to experiencing.
4 . Americans don’t like to travel
As stereotypes go, this one’s a little bit ridiculous. It’s a big country with a whole lot of different people, some who are absolute globetrotters and others who have never left their own state. Anyone who has done any travelling of their own will have undoubtedly met American adventurers who will disprove the theory.
Of course there is truth to it for some Americans - and it makes sense. Plenty of individual states are as big as or bigger than sovereign nations on other continents, in either size or population or both. This not only lessens the need to travel so much (there is a big variety of landscapes and cultures within the country and even within many states) but also makes it a little more tricky - an eight hour flight might not even get you out of the country!
5 . Americans are hardworking
The American Dream is predicated around hard work, and that has cemented itself in the global psyche. A lot of people see Americans as people who hustle and put in the hours and/or sweat to achieve what they want to achieve. It’s a great way to be viewed by the world!
Of course, the downside of this is the reality - Americans do work hard, and not always because they want to! The labour laws are quite employer-friendly, with no mandated annual leave, no maternity leave and other such laws (or lack of them) which leave the USA lagging behind most other advanced economies.
This list doesn’t even scratch the surface - there are a lot of preconceptions both positive and negative about denizens of the United States of America. The best way to discover what’s true and what isn’t is a road trip
through as much of the vast country as possible to experience it all! Pick up a USA car rental and you’ll be on your way to the truth. You could start your journey through the USA from Los Angeles
, Salt Lake City
or any other major city you like.