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Misconceptions about America and US culture

As an international student, studying abroad is more than exams and classes. It is also about learning new cultures and meeting different types of people. Sometimes though, we go into a new culture with stereotypes and biases. American culture has a very different feel than European or Asian cultures and there are some misunderstandings about Americans. Here are some common misconceptions about America that are not always true.

Americans are not curious about the world
The reason that this is believed is because in many parts of the world, people watch America’s media and listen to American music, making American culture widely known.  However, Americans do not pay too much attention to other countries media so they are not as aware. And while Americans are statistically not good at geography, it is taught in schools and there are options to take geography in higher education. Still, try to get over these stereotypes: usually in colleges or universities, American students get more and more open to the world around them and you will surely have great conversations about cultural differences with your new friends on campus. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of American students spend a semester or year abroad and get exposed to other cultures through this experience.
Americans don’t appreciate football (soccer)
Yes, it is called soccer in America. However, soccer participation among youths in America is among the highest in the world. Soccer is the third most watched sport in America after (American) football and baseball. You can even watch popular games on TV as there are some American channels that show soccer games and follow all types of international sports: FoxSport, ESPN, Gol TV are among the most famous sports channels. Playing sports on campus, whether it is soccer or American football is a great way to meet new friends and to get into the local culture. Do not miss those opportunities.

Americans are overly patriotic
This is true in certain cases, Americans are very proud to be American. You can see the American flag easily in the streets. However, it is not uncommon in Europe and the rest of the world to be patriotic of your own country. If you meet someone from India or Russia or anywhere in the world, they are just as patriotic as Americans. Americans also know how to have fun with their patriotism. The 4th of July is a holiday celebrating American independence and it is one of the most fun holidays. There are a lot of fireworks that are free to go and see and Americans usually have cookouts and grill hamburgers. This is a good opportunity to try some American cuisine and get invited in American families or with your new friends on campus.

If you don’t have healthcare, you won’t get any help
Yes, America does not have universal health care. However, even if you don’t have healthcare coverage you will still be taken care of. Doctors have taken the Hippocratic oath that says they must take care of any and all patients that need their help. You may receive a large bill in the mail later though…
All Americans are obese and lazy
Probably the most popular stereotypes about Americans is that they are all obese and eat nothing but McDonald's and other types of fast food. While there are some who fit the stereotype, most Americans aren’t fat and actually care about fitness and health and eating healthy. Sports and fitness are an active part of American society. You will surely experience it on your campus while studying abroad. You might be surprised by how young Americans can be body conscious and how you can easily find healthy food and places to exercise. It is all a matter of choice.

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