This survey was constructed so as to extract information regarding the perceptions each student had had of the other nationalities present here, namely: Irish, Portuguese, Croat, Slovenian and German. However, stereotypes can prove controversial, and it was decided that the surveys would be anonymous so as to elicit genuine data without persecution. Each survey required the participant to write down the genuine, primary stereotype he/she associated with each country. Though, there were many different stereotypes associated with each country, there was definite overlap and it was decided that those written most frequently would be considered here. The following sections highlight the stereotypes attributed to each nationality.
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National stereotypes about Croatia
In 1991 Croatia began to fight for its own independence. The 4-year battle separated Croatia from Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). As the autonomy was becoming greater, Croats were starting to show their pride for their country. Nowadays, other nations think Croats are nationalists. However, generally, Croats do not feel superior to other countries, although they may like to express their patriotism with a hint of arrogance and aggressive tones while sharing patriotic war stories.
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Interestingly, though, 11 years had passed since Croatia got its freedom when it applied for the European Union membership in 2003. After the less-than-50-percent-of-voters referendum which is about two million people voting, the official date of joining the EU was set – 1 July 2013. Many who served in the Homeland War were not satisfied with “giving up” the liberty. When there was a referendum appointed, a minor rebellion appeared amongst them, but ended unsuccessfully. The main argument they stated was that they don’t want to live in another Serbia.
All in all, there is this nationalistic-based stereotype circling in people’s minds, but as years are passing by, the War is abating and the stereotype about Croat being proud of their country is abating, too.
National stereotypes about Egypt people think that Egypt has so cities and is only sand and pyramids. This stereotype comes from the media.
National stereotypes about Germany
Over the course of this research, people from different nations generally thought that Germans have extreme punctual and organizational skills. The reaction of the German students here was of interest.
As a whole they agreed that there is indeed a tendency for being punctual; they are never late to business meetings or school because it is rude not to be punctual. This occurs, according to them, due to the strict nature of the school system, their drive and ambition and their status in the global economy. This pressure from these outside sources helped to form a culture of a punctual and organized nature. Interestingly, responding to a question about appropriate time-keeping, each person said that 15 minutes is the most one may be late, and any longer than that is quite frustrating. As far as organization is concerned, Germans stay rather neutral than point out they are organized. Yes, they deem that everyone should be organized and it depends on an individual how they will arrange their time and space. Also, hard work is their everyday routine and being organized is the norm since the opposite is considered to be insulting to the other party. Wasting someone’s time due to lack of punctuality or disorganization is shunned and frowned upon because it is perceived as a lack of respect for the person.
However, this is not enough to categorize a people. They too believe that they manifest this organized and punctual nature, however, there is more to the German people. Most considered that they would work hard and play hard and that when it comes to fun they’re not so rigid. In fact, quite often, after finishing work on Friday, they would go directly to bar for the weekend festivities. For a people, thought to be so straight cut and rigid, this is quite a juxtaposition. The Germans, like any nationality, manifest stereotypes, but they alone are not enough to define them.
National stereotypes about Ireland
Ireland: A Drinking Nation?
Ireland has long been considered a nation of heavy drinkers. More often than not, the primary stereotype associated with Ireland is just that. Adapting Adichie’s single story view, as outlined above, it can be seen that this stereotype reflects a single view of Irish culture and as culture, which “consists of abstract ideas, values and perceptions of the world that inform and are reflected in people’s behaviour.” is so diverse that Ireland cannot be categorized with a single story.
In Ireland in 2003, medical expenses treating alcohol induced maladies reached €2.4 billion. These illnesses occurred due to the fact that Irish people were consuming 12.1L of pure alcohol a year, the next closest at 9L was its neighbour Britain. Furthermore, the idea of alcohol being a crutch of Irish culture can be seen in the media through the association of alcohol with traditional Irish music and the representation of Irish culture and alcohol in film and literature. “Angela’s Ashes”, by Frank McCourt is quite a famous representation of poverty stricken Ireland and its representation of alcohol as a social activity. The growing view that that is what it was and is to be Irish is represented via the excess of pubs and as a vice of the Irish who would sometimes not buy food for their children in the place of buying alcohol can support
However, can these extracts from surveys or artistic representations be enough to tar an entire people with one brush? If so, consider the fact that a survey published in 2004 stated that 23% of Irish people did not drink any alcohol at all. Is it fair that these non-drinkers be considered alcoholics? Is it fair the Irish be branded alcoholics when other European countries such as Germany boast only 13% non-drinkers? It is not just that these citizens have no cultural projection.
Drinking culture in Ireland needs to improve but if people are subjected to such narrow views, no matter how they improve, it will go unnoticed. This article in no way wishes to deny the claims of this stereotype, but it does however wish to highlight that people are diverse and that these types of generalisations can be inaccurate and are, in this case, as Adichie mentioned, incomplete.
National stereotypes about Portugal
A small survey to the students of the Summer School showed that the Portuguese are commonly thought of as lazy people. Another survey made to only the Portuguese students and teachers brought to light a few ideas on why might this be so. Three possible reasons were pointed out: the first has to do with the lack of knowledge that people have about Portugal. The second is associated with the current economic crisis. The third has to do with the country’s proximity with Spain and the confusion between the two countries. These reasons could be developed as it follows.
1. Lack of Knowledge
Portugal is a geographically small country, located at the ‘edge’ of Europe; it has very few inhabitants; it is economically unimportant; and culturally it is not as influential as the USA, for example.
2. Economic crisis
As a member of the European Union, Portugal is seen as just another region of this great political alliance. It is, economically, worse off than most of European countries which are also going through an economic crisis. As it is generally thought that all the countries in the EU have all been working under the same conditions, the fact that Portugal is in a shaky situation is usually perceived as being the population’s fault for not working enough. People who are not hard-working exist everywhere and Portugal is not an exception. It cannot go unnoticed, of course, that Portugal still has a long way to go in terms of development and democratic behavior and that the conservatism present in several branches of society also makes it hard to bring new things into the country. For these two reasons, many people within Portugal do not try to do anything extraordinary because they believe there is no point in trying hard: many things will simply not be accepted. Furthermore, hard work is frequently unacknowledged, many people are underpaid, jobs are instable and many governmental structures are corrupted. This might lead to be a lack of work getting done or even laziness, but it is too essentialist to say that all Portuguese people are lazy. In reality, when Portuguese people go to work abroad, they are often considered good workers who respect the rules of the country where they are. It would appear that the Portuguese tend to adapt to their surrounding environment and that this helps to determine the quality of their work.
3. Confusion with Spain
There are two issues regarding this situation. First, there is the assumption that Spanish people are lazy because they sleep in the afternoon (siesta). Not only is the siesta not a Portuguese tradition, but it is also not really an indication of laziness, as the Spanish will, generally, wake up early in the morning and go to bed very late at night. It is merely a matter of maintaining sleeping patterns. Second, both Portugal and Spain are lumped together. This causes the international community to think of them as roughly the same thing. Therefore, the stereotypes that exist towards Spain will generally also be applied to Portugal.
National stereotypes about Slovenia
Slovenia was a part of former Republic of Yugoslavia until 1991 when it gained its independence, thus making it a fairly young country. As a small country with only around 2.5 million people, Slovenes tend to be stereotypically perceived as a reserved nation. After gaining its independence, Slovenia trod carefully in forming new alliances, trade agreements and improving international relations. Slovenia is also a crossroad between central Europe and the Balkans which gave it an important economical role and has thus adopted a non-risk taking policy in order to maintain good relations with as many countries as possible. This caution in every decision making contributed to the stereotypical image of Slovenes as being a reserved nation.
Slovenes are reserved when interacting with others, be it a fellow citizen or a foreigner, however, one must not mistake them to be unfriendly. Slovenes are reserved in terms of how fast they are willing to let a person close to them, how soon are they willing to commit, and most importantly when has a person gained their trust. Slovenes are generally open and welcoming and will usually not hesitate to offer their help and support but will be careful in doing so. This applies as long as their personal space is not invaded and they feel comfortable in presence of others, but they will be careful and at times dismissive when communication takes on a more personal and private note; even amongst friends. Slovenes tend to stay in their comfort zones because they do not feel comfortable taking risks or making unnecessary decisions.
Even though Slovenes are not so easily trusting, they are not a cold nation. In some regions people are more relaxed and open (the coast & N-E), whereas in other parts the situation may be reversed, but the general feel is still that of kindness. Slovenes should not be perceived as unfriendly just because they tend to take their time in bonding with others or being careful in choosing their words.
↑ Anthropology: The Human Challenge, Haviland, Prins,Walrath, McBride, 2010
↑ Angelas’s Ashes, Frank McCourt, 1996.
↑ Drugnet Ireland(2004) Newsletter of Drug Misuse Research Division
↑ Drugnet Ireland(2004) Newsletter of Drug Misuse Research Division