United States vs. United Kingdom: Stereotypes

Being abroad, I obviously got to see if stereotypes about British people are true. I also got to hear stereotypes British people had about Americans and since I was gone so long, coming back to the United States was like being in a new place all over again and I got to experience those stereotypes for myself.

Here’s what I found:

British stereotypes (taken from a variety of sources):

  • British people also drink more than a lot of Americans thanks to pub culture. However, drinking is more of a casual occasion rather than a wild night out.
  • It’s been said that British people especially love apologizing, however, I find that Americans also apologize a lot. For example, if I brush someone’s arms on the train or a question in class is almost always preceded by, “I’m sorry, but…”
  • I find the stereotypes that the stereotypes of terrible teeth and terrible food are grossly outdated. Braces are quite common and with such a wide range of cuisine, there’s food for all tastes in the United Kingdom.
  • A big stereotype is that British people love to talk about the weather, and this is totally true, but I find, not exclusive to Brits. On that note, it’s also thought that it rains a lot in Britain, which is also true, but not as often as you’d think. Most days are cloudy, but rain only rains once a week or so and when it rains, it’s a light sprinkle.
  • Oddly enough, most British people don’t care for the royal family as much as, say, Americans. In fact, a lot of people I know despise the idea of a queen.
  • Yes, people in the United Kingdom have accents, but there is no such thing as a universal “British” accent. Great Britain is composed of Scotland, Wales and England with dozens of varying different accents. What most people consider a traditional “British” accent is very posh and typically found in the south of England.

American stereotypes (taken from a variety of sources):

  • The biggest (pun intended) American stereotype is that we’re fat, which is true, but I do see a larger amount of especially in-shape people in the United States, as well. Almost everyone I know tries to work out every so often and the gym is always filled with beefcakes who look like they could kill me in one punch.
  • Another widely accepted stereotype is that we love our guns. I can’t tell you how many times people didn’t believe me when I told them we can buy guns at Walmart.
  • It is thought that, generally, Americans don’t travel as much as Europeans, which makes us ignorant of the world, particularly geographically. However, I find this varies from person to person. While my British friend Tom has been (quite literally) all around the world, some of my other British friends have never been out of the country.
  • Compared to other countries, the U.S. is seen as very religiously and politically polarizing. I was constantly reminded that even the left wing in the U.K. Is often considered moderate in the U.S.
  • People around the world tend to see Americans as especially talkative and loud. Sparking up a conversation with a perfect stranger in the United Kingdom is unheard of. However, on that note, we also tend to be seen as more friendly, which can be hard to compare because although British people are more reserved, it’s not really in a way that entails malice.
  • I hear two polarizing stereotypes about Americans: one is that we’re lazy and the other is that we’re overachievers, chasing the “American Dream.” Some might see us as lazy because we drive everywhere but the reality is that we don’t really have a choice. Public transit isn’t as widespread as it is in Europe and businesses and residences are more geographically separate in American than in Europe. On the other hand, America has been seen as the land of opportunity and hard work, shaping its residents to always strive.

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