What misconceptions do Americans have about Europe?
Well a few of the misconceptions I had about Europe before actually visiting were the following:
- They are rude (this was not the case for most of my trip - one exception was in London. My family faced flat-out ignorant attacks about US politics and culture for simply asking for directions.... maybe we just ran into all the wrong people that day)
- They believe they are educationally superior (I did expect them to try and flaunt their knowledge about Geography and history or to try and test my knowledge, but instead they proved to be quite willing to learn something from me about the US... one girl asked me if Las Vegas was a state)
- They are dirty (Americans are always squeaky clean, but the smelly European stereotype didn't quite show anywhere on my trip)
- They hate Americans (I was very uncomfortable when I first arrived in Europe not because I was afraid of being harmed, but rather that I was afraid someone would say something hateful against me if I did something stupid. By the time that actually happened in London, this's opinion of Europeans had already changed)
- They are all skinnier than Americans (While there really weren't many fat people. There wasn't much difference from their appearance and my neighbors back home)
- They all have learned English and have spoken it since childhood (I got the impression that many Europeans learned English as a foreign language in primary school, but this obviously wasn't the case with everyone)
- They don't want to speak English (this one kinda works against the one above, but I was afraid to ask anyone to speak English simply because it felt like an inconvenience... most actually wanted to practice with us)
The main thing I forgot when traveling to Europe was that Europeans are humans just like Americans. I was a little afraid of them to be honest. I mostly didn't want to look like a fool. But honestly, Europeans understand what it's like to be human. Many of them have travelled to foreign countries and understand what it's like to be a visitor. They were helpful and mostly didn't harass my family when we asked for helped. We were not greeted with a smile as in the US, but as time went by we just took friendliness through different cues.
I wish I had European friends my age so I could experience it more often!