A stereotype is a popular belief about something. This belief can originate from the social sphere, for example from our parents, friends, as well as culture and subculture. Stereotypes make our lives easier in many ways because they show us what to expect from a certain situation or a certain person. But, at the same time, stereotypes can legitimize myths and act like a justification of our attitude toward different things. It's seen especially well when you think about traveling the world.
For example, have you ever refused to visit a certain place, just because you thought that there was something wrong with it, but then it turned out that you were wrong? For example, have you thought that Africa was unsafe, but then discovered the beautiful and absolutely safe countries on this large continent? Or have you considered French people to be rude, and then realized that they're actually nice, but only if you're nice to them. Similar things can certainly disrupt your travel experience and make you miss out of numerous opportunities.
But, even though a lot of stereotypes are false, they're also the ones that are correct. For example, Germans do like rules and Russians really are superstitious. So how do you know, what cliches are right or wrong, before visiting a certain country? Worry no more, because this list will help you figure out what is what when it comes to the most popular stereotypes about different nations!
20 False: Spaniards Are Lazy
Yes, Spaniards have siesta (the time in the middle of the day, when they can take rest and get some sleep) and yes, they have this "mañana" attitude towards a lot of things. But it doesn't mean that they're lazy. After all, if you're used to working in the afternoon and always hurry to finish some of the work, everyone else in the world doesn't have to have a similar kind of behavior.
In fact, most Spaniards don't sleep during siesta hours, but they choose to do some of the household stuff. Besides, their working week has more working hours than most other countries, even more than Germany!
19 True: Canadians Are Super-Polite
According to a common stereotype, Canadians are incredibly polite, and this cliche is actually correct.
Canadians are very nice people, who always smile at strangers and it's impossible not to smile back at them because they look so genuinely. They talk to people they don't know in public transport and in other public places, like shops and cafes. They apologize, if they did something wrong, even if didn't actually do anything wrong. They will help you out, if you need something or if you look confused and don't even ask for help. And they will never, ever be rude to you. Isn't it amazing?
18 False: Everyone In India Speaks Hindi
When we come to a certain country, we tend to think that everyone there will speak a certain language and that it's going to be only one, sometimes two, languages. It's true for most countries - Spaniards speak Spanish, Italians speak Italian, and Canadians speak English or French. So if you come to India, you assume that everyone there speaks Hindi, which is not entirely the truth.
In fact, a lot of people in India don't know Hindi. It's not even taught in some schools. In every state of India, people speak their regional language - Marathi in Maharashtra, Tamil in Tamil Nadu, Konkani in Goa etc. And they're not just some dialects of Hindi - most of them are entirely different languages.
17 True: Brits Drink A Lot Of Tea
What's one of the first associations most people have when they think about the Brits? Except for the Queen and rainy weather, most of us are thinking about their favorite drink of all seasons - of tea. And this stereotype is actually correct.
Most of the British people love tea and drink it every day. They like to sip, slurp and gulp down tea, along with some tasty snacks, such as cakes, cupcakes, and other sweet stuff that makes the hot, flavorful drink even tastier. But no, they don't usually stick their pinky finger out, while sipping on their 5-o'clock cup of tea. It mostly happens in the movies about nobles, but not in real life.
16 False: All Chinese Know Kung Fu
In Chinese movies, we're used to seeing that every single character knows how to kick you-know-what. So planning a trip to China, some people expect to see a lot of Chinese guys, who know kung fu, or other martial arts. Of course, they don't expect to see kung fu fighting in the streets, but they at least want to meet those, who learned to do some kicks. But the fact is... very few Chinese actually choose to study this beautiful and world-renown art of fighting.
So no, everybody wasn't kung-fu fighting in China. Only the chosen ones know how to do it and you shouldn't expect to meet these people unless you plan to attend a martial arts school.
15 True: Indians Have A Lot Of Gods
Usually, we use the phrase "millions of something" as an exaggeration, meaning that there's a lot of something. But when it comes to speaking of Hindu pantheon or gods, this phrase isn't an exaggeration. They actually worship 330 millions of gods! Such a huge amount can seem to be crazy, but if you understand Hinduism better, it's actually quite logical.
Hindus believe that there's one creator of reality - Brahman - and all other deities are his manifestations in different aspects. For example, Ganesh is worshiped for removing obstacles, Shiva - for destroying impurities, Lakshmi - for blessing people with wealth, etc. Interestingly, Hindus are free to choose the deity they need at the moment and ask them whatever they want.
14 False: Africa Is All About National Parks
A lot of people think that African countries are all about nature, national parks, and people living in the simplest huts that can exist in the world. Well, yes, nature there is incredible, there are a lot of national parks that offer the ultimate safari experience for tourists, and many people do live in huts, but it doesn't mean that Africa is lacking innovative technologies.
More and more Africans begin living in urban areas. Over 50 cities on the continent now have a population of more than a million people. Using cell phones and smartphones is very common, especially in more developed countries, such as Nigeria and South Africa. Mobile banking is well-spread, as well.
13 True: Germans Are Distant
For many foreigners, Germans seem to be rather distant and cold people. This impression isn't a completely wrong one, because Germans consider people's personal space very important. For this reason, while communicating with someone they don't really know, they are usually very formal, especially when they meet for the first time. It's part of being polite and it has nothing to do with them being arrogant or unfriendly.
There's certainly a good side to this kind of behavior. For Germans, friendships don't form overnight. They take a lot of time to develop a close relationship, but when they do, they become genuine friends you can always trust.
12 False: Arranged Marriage In India Is Forced
When we're thinking about arranged marriages, we usually believe that all of them are forced and no choice is given to the bride and groom. Sometimes, as we assume, the couple meet for the first time on their wedding day. In the past, it was like that, but now parents in India do things differently.
A lot of young people actually choose to have their marriages arranged by their parents, other family members, or even friends. They get recommendations to meet someone (which is not that different to a blind date) and spend some time together to get to know each other. No one is forced to marry the first person they meet and rejecting someone is not a big deal.
11 True: Russians Don't Smile At Strangers
If you've ever been to Russia, or know someone who has, you're aware that you're likely to get some weird looks, if you smile at a stranger in public transport or at any other public place. So yes, this stereotype is correct - Russians don't smile at strangers. Of course, it doesn't mean that they don't smile at all (they actually do, but you have to deserve their smile by becoming their friend).
The thing is, smiling at strangers in the street isn't part of the Russian culture. For them, a smile is considered to be an intimate thing that they give only to the people they know. So to get to a kind heart of a Russian and see their beautiful smile, at least talk to them for a while!
10 False: Africa Is Unsafe
We hear a lot of alarming news about African countries. Some of them tell about civil wars in certain places, others recount of disease epidemics and talk about poverty. It all makes us think that Africa is an unsafe continent we should never visit.
But in fact, your safety in Africa depends on the exact location you choose to visit. Sure, some places should better be avoided, but others are incredible destinations you can add to your bucket list. In Morocco in Senegal, for example, you can visit pristine beaches and see magnificent landscapes. In South Africa and Ghana, you'll witness rich culture and abundant wildlife. And in Tanzania, you may climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent's highest peak, and visit incredible safari parks.
9 True: Italians Are Passionate
We all have this picture in our minds, on which Italian people are speaking to each other, passionately waving their hands. And you know what? Go to Italy and take a ride at their public transport. It'll be enough for you to see that this stereotype is completely truthful!
When I was to Rome and was riding a bus, there was a woman, who was holding her phone with one hand, talking to someone, and actively gesticulated with another hand, so she didn't hold the handrails. She almost fell down on me, because of it, but she wouldn't take the handrails, for sure! I'm certain that a similar thing could only happen in Italy!
8 False: Canada Is Freaking Cold
A lot of people, especially Americans, think that Canada is an incredibly cold country, where winter lasts all year long. Well, yes, Canada is located further north than the USA, but it doesn't mean that Canadians don't get any summer!
Don't forget that Canada is a vast country and while in some of its parts it can be colder than in most other countries, other provinces and cities have a climate quite similar to that in the United States and Europe. In Winnipeg, among others, you can expect summer temperatures to be as high as +30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
So no, Canadians don't live in igloos and they don't have to wear mittens all year round.
7 True: Germans Love Rules
Germans have a number of rules concerning different aspects of life and, what's interesting, they like to obey them. On the one hand, these countless rules and laws make the country and its people inflexible, but on the other hand, Germans are known for their incredible efficiency. After all, if everyone does what they're supposed to do, it's rather easy to control the work process and attain all the goals set.
Always being on time is one of the most important rules for Germans. Punctuality equals to showing respect to others and Germans consider that it's better to be too early than too late. So if you're in Germany, make sure to be punctual, too!
6 False: Italians Are Fashionable
Thinking of Italians (especially, Italian women), we usually imagine beautiful and stylish people, dressed in the best clothes ever. But does this conception have something to do with reality? Yes and no.
Yes, Italians certainly know their way about fashion and they even say that their sense of style is genetic. They generally know what suits them and they also know how to combine different pieces of clothing in an outfit. But no, they don't wear designer clothes every single day. Just like all other people all over the world, they have the days, when they don't feel like being fashionable and wear the first thing they find in a wardrobe.
5 True: Russians Are Superstitious
Few other nations have as many superstitions as Russians do. In most cases, these superstitions become a habit. For example, a lot of Russians will sit down inside their house for some time before leaving for a trip, thinking that it'll bring good luck. They also consider it to be bad to come back home if they forgot to take something with them, and if they absolutely have to come back, they'll look in the mirror before leaving again. Other superstitions include avoiding to shake hands over a threshold, not whistling indoors, and bringing an odd number of flowers for celebrations and even number - for funerals.
Weird, I know, but they actually do it all, even if they don't believe in superstitions! It's just a habit.
4 False: French People Are Rude
If you, like many other people, think that the French are rude (especially their waiters are), you must be really into stereotypes! In fact, French people can be rude, but only if you're rude to them. And vice versa, if you're polite, they'll respond with politeness, as well.
Most of the time, this stereotype comes from misunderstanding the French culture. For instance, if you come into a cafe and don't say "Bonjour" or "Bonsoir" to a waiter, they'll perceive it as a huge sign of disrespect and will probably show disrespect to you, as well.
So be nice and say "Hello", when you enter any place, and you'll know French people for their politeness!
3 True: Italians Love Their Food
Italians take many things seriously. In fact, they take everything, from football to fashion, seriously. And one of the most serious things for them is their food. Italians are incredibly passionate about their food.
Try and cook an Italian meal for an Italian grandma, for example. You'll see what she tells you about your cooking. Even if you've always thought that you're an amazing cook, it's highly unlikely that she'll like the lasagna you made for her. She'll tell how much it's not a lasagna at all and name you at least a few things that you should've done differently. She won't do it to offend you - she just knows the ultimate way to cook an Italian meal, and you don't. Because you're not Italian.
2 False: Americans Are Extremely Patriotic
Many foreigners think that all Americans are incredibly patriotic people, who like to chat about their country and always carry the national flag with them. It's partly true, because most Americans love the country they live in for the opportunities it gives to them, but not all Americans are as patriotic as you might think. A lot of Americans love to travel and they respect other countries, instead of thinking that theirs is the best one in the world.
In fact, we can tell that even if Americans are patriotic, it's usually not the blind kind of patriotism. They know what they can love their country for and they respect their traditions.
1 True: The Japanese Are Tidy
The Japanese are distinctive for a lot of things, and one of them is their extreme tidiness and politeness. For the people, who've traveled a lot, the Japanese seem to be the world's tiniest, most polite and punctual people. They always behave impeccably, they're never rude, and they never try to sneak a photography without asking first. And of course, if you've been to Japan, you know how clean their streets are and how tidy they are at home.
So now you know some of the most common true and false stereotypes about different nations. Now tell us honestly, which ones have you always believed in and how many myths have you debunked, due to this article? Write us in the comments!