Stereotypes are defined as, “A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” Unfortunately, stereotypes are difficult to avoid in any country. However, before studying abroad, recognize that it is important not to judge any place based on the stereotypes surrounding their country! Here are some of the preconceptions that I had before studying abroad, and how they were totally transformed during my experience.
I will admit that I had a preconception of British people, and the United Kingdom overall, before I came to study abroad in London. First and foremost, I believed British people drank a significant amount of tea. I thought they drank tea like I drink water, constantly and in an abundance. After coming to London, I learned that tea is not as prominent as I expected it to be. Although a still a significant part of the culture, I have learned that it is more popular with the older generations and more in a home setting rather than with the younger population and in a public setting.
Before coming to London, I thought that I had a good interpretation of a “British Accent.” I believed the accent to be that of the children in the movie Narnia, an accent that I actually used to practice as a kid, and believed to have perfected. Since moving to London, I have learned that there are many different types of British accents, just as there are many different types of accents in the United States. There are differences between Northern Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh accents. However, within each country, there are numerous different accents depending on the area.
There are plenty of things that I expected from the British that were immediately changed when I landed in London. At the Foundation of International Education, we were required to take a British Culture and Life Class. I think this class was extremely helpful, because we were able to learn a huge amount about British culture with the help of our professor, who was a London local. This class taught me to dispose of any bias I had and experience different cultures for what they truly are, which was also beneficial when traveling around Europe, and will be useful for life.
I am glad I had the opportunity to crush the expectations I once had, and truly learn about British life and culture. The only way to truly learn about any culture is to submerse yourself in it, respectfully and without any expectations.