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Dave Go Round

I am a world traveler. These are my stories.

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Sep '11

Asian Stereotypes: Fact or Fiction?

In many parts of the world, groups of people are often generalized or stereotyped:

  • Americans are all fat.
  • Germans are all beer loving engineers.
  • Russians put vodka on their cereal.
  • Africans get dinner with a spear.

Asians are no exception to this rule. After spending some time among them, I thought about this and some of the stereotypes I had most often been told of Asians. Have I found them to be true? Take a look.

1. Asians are bad drivers.

This is utterly untrue. Asians by and large are capable of operating a motor vehicle in arenas that would cause most North Americans I know to break into sweat and go back to bed. This place is damn challenging and requires constant vigilance and split second pinpoint accuracy. Asians are amazing drivers. The myth arises from when Asian drivers have to go to areas where the rules are different, like the USA. This driving method, somewhat akimbo, is less effective there.

2. All Asians are good at Math.

I’m afraid not, kids. From the moment I arrived in Asia, everyone was using huge calculators to perform even the simplest of math. 200 minus 50? Better use that calculator, base 10 can get away from you pretty quickly.

3. Asians eat dogs and cats.

Not once in my time in Asia was I ever offered dog or cat meat. This does not mean that I knew what I was eating every time I sat down, or that I didn’t eat some really weird items while I was there, however.


4. Asians are short.

Actually, this one is largely true. While Asia does produce the occasional vertical anomaly like Yao Ming, I was mostly awash in a wading pool of black haired people who couldn’t have looked me in the eye without a stepladder. This was neat at first, though if you are over 6 feet, you may want to watch out for the door frames. Concussions just aren’t cool.

5. Rice.

True. The one thing you can count on with every meal in Asia is rice. Sometimes rice is the entire meal. It’s odd for me to say, coming from a largely carnivorous diet, but the rice is delicious! Plenty of calories to get through the day. The word for rice is sometimes substituted for the word for meal or food, and the breathtaking green of fields of rice give you views like you don’t see elsewhere. Just Google up some pictures of Sapa in Vietnam.

All in all, the lesson to be learned here is that you can’t judge a book by the cover that you never saw but someone else told you about. No matter how reliable or instantiated the rumor was that you heard it will never sum up the technicolor wonderland of experiencing another culture first-hand.

Take a chance, find a way, get out there and do some exploring; even if that just means just trying a new Nationality of ¬†food that you haven’t ever considered before. (I dare you to take a look around for a Malaysian restaurant near you and try Nasi Lemak.) See for yourself. I promise you the experience will be worth it.

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