This post is about cultural differences, stereotypes and assumptions. Stereotypes and assumptions that foreigners have about Asians and Asians have about foreigners. I lived in Asia for 6 years.
Stereotypes Asians have about foreigners and Americans
"Wow, you can use chop sticks"
Most westerners do not eat with chopsticks. However, many can eat with chopsticks. Many Asians will be surprised to see you - a foreigner eating with chopsticks. Many will assume that you cannot eat with chopsticks.
"Where are you from?"
Many people will ask you that question. But before you get to answer they may try to guess. Their answers will likely be "LA" or "NY". This is kind of normal though and it goes the other way as well. Most people are only familiar with the big cities in another country.
"You don't eat at McDonald's?"
Many people were surprised to hear that I didn't eat fast food or beef. Most assume that foreigners eat fast food.
"You are not Christian?"
No, I am not. In fact I am proud to say that I am not religious. Many will assume that if you are a foreigner - a white foreigner anyways, that you are a Christian. You may even attract a few religious types because of this.
There is a stereotype in Eastern Asia that foreigners smell. I once read Koreans don't have a certain sweat gland like foreigners do. I thought that was a myth. Then I looked it up on Wikipedia and it turned out to be kind of true. At least that's what it said. So I think there is some truth to that. Many people do not wear deodorant in China, Korea, Japan, or Taiwan and finding a selection of deodorant there is often challenging.
"Are you a movie star?"
Some people may assume that you are a movie star. And if you aren't they might ask if you happen to know Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Aside from being famous they may assume that you are rich. They may even ask to take a picture with you. This is all part of being a foreigner in Asia.
"Are you a player?"
If you are single male then you are likely going to get this one. Many Chinese, Korean, etc. girls assume that if you are a foreigner then you are a playboy.
"You can speak Chinese"
Or Japanese, Korean, etc. Even if you can say a few words in Chinese many folks will make that comment. Some will be actually be surprised if you can speak a great deal, since they assume that you cannot as a foreigner. Learning the language definitely opens doors.
Stereotypes foreigners have about Asians
"Do you know Kung Fu?"
Foreigners going to China may assume that many Chinese know Kung Fu. In reality very few people practice Kung Fu in either China or Taiwan. Most of the people who actually do know Kung Fu are old and practice Tai Chi which is a soft form of Chinese Kung Fu.
"Asian women are emotionless slaves"
I have read and heard statements like that coming from American women in regards to Asian women. It doesn't matter if they are male or female, Eastern Asians tend to be more emotionally controlled. They tend to be more self controlled than Americans are. They may see Americans as people who wear their emotions on their sleeves and lack self control.
While things are changing in Asia. Roles between Asian men and Asian women tend to be more traditional than they are in the west. So I wouldn't call them slaves. I'd just say that things are different.
Stereotypes are funny. It's important to judge people individually. Yet there are often truths to some stereotypes. Like it's true that most Americans are fat and probably most of them do not know how to eat with chopsticks.
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