I just came back from a very brief but absolutely amazing trip to France. I stayed in La Fleche, France (which is about 60 km south of Le Mans) with a host family for only 2 weeks, but I learned so much. I've only been studying French for 3 years now... in high school (in other words, not the best and certainly not the fastest or most effective). After 2 weeks in that small city (population 16,000), I stayed in Paris for just under a week.
The thing that bugged me the most about people from the United States' stereotyping about the French was that a lot of what they said was completely true about 90% of the American tourists in Paris. Americans think that French people are rude, loud, inconsiderate, brash, hurried and arrogant.... just to name a few that I kept hearing over and over again before my trip. When I was in Paris, my number one goal was to blend in. Why? Because, as fate would have it [insert sarcasm here], most of the American tourists I encountered were rude, loud, inconsiderate, brash, hurried, arrogant and acted like they owned the place, expecting everyone to speak English and not giving anyone a second look if they didn't. What a coincidence, huh? The British tourists in similar situations were courteous, soft-spoken when appropriate, considerate, civilized, calm/slow to anger, understanding and respectful. Just as my well-traveled cousin told me... the logic is simple... if you take one step of effort towards trying to learn about someone else's culture, s/he'll take two steps towards helping you. I don't understand how Americans can be so ignorant.
Seeing as most of us are Americans ourselves... what do you think of stereotypes, tourists/foreigners, France, USA etc? What have your experiences with this been like? Do you guys think I, myself, am wrong for stereotyping American tourists?
By the way... I apologize if any of this sounds like psycho-babble... it has been a long 23 hours for me (I've been awake far too long for a sane person). Thanks ahead of time for your opinions. I'm just curious... as always.