By LIU Xiang, Jack (Jockey Club Academy Hall)

When living in a diverse environment like CityU, we sometimes need to deal with stereotypes both towards ourselves and towards others. Stereotypes are not all bad - some may be pretty positive. But it seems to me that no stereotype is accurate and here are some of the stereotypes about Americans proved to be wrong by real stories that I have encountered. Why Americans? I do not know. Maybe it happens that I have known quite a lot of them in my university life.

Stereotype 1: Americans are very open and do not think about getting married until middle-age.

I met a friend on a trip organised by CityU and had a very pleasant conversation. At one point she told me that some of her friends had babies already. She was just a junior college student and her friends were of the same age. She told me that they got married when they just turned 18. I was a bit surprised and said what a pity. To me marriage stands for the end of youth and freedom. She seemed a bit offended and said she fully supports her friends’ choice and that people should respect differences in life choices. I apologized immediately but was still quite amazed. I thought getting married before people’s 20s only happened many years ago!

Stereotype 2: Americans do not study hard.

My English mentor from the English Language Centre’s English Mentor Scheme proved this wrong. The scheme pairs a native English speaker with a few Chinese students to do a few self-initiated activities together. The first one was just having lunch at the canteen. Our mentor kept saying sorry that he made this first event simple because he was busy with his study. During the lunch we did talk about many typical topics in this context like what is your hometown like and how do you like Hong Kong. But he also asked a lot about study and grades at CityU. The last time we met was around the exam period. We said hello and he told me about all the exams he will have. Apart from his perfect English, he really talked like a devoted Chinese student (I am being stereotypical again).

Stereotypes 3: Americans like to go partying and get drunk

We can easily get this impression from seeing the dressed-up foreign students wearing perfume going to Lan Kwai Fong or Wan Chai. Clubbing and drinking are indeed a big part of American culture but does every American like it? No. One of my floormates proved it wrong. My floormate was an outgoing American girl who embraced Asian culture completely. She loves watching Japanese animation while enjoying a bowl of seafood cup noodles. For a night out she prefers going out for a dessert to going partying with her fellow exchange students.

The list can go on and on but I think you get the point. Instead of seeing people by stereotypes we should just see each person as an individual, an individual that can be however he or she can be.