American and British Stereotypes: A Cultural Exchange

March 24, 2016

ISEP student Blue C. is a part of ISEP Voices Spring 2016. She is an exercise science major from Marshall University, and is currently studying abroad at the University of Chester in the United Kingdom.

Coming into a new country from the United States was quite the culture shock. I came to Great Britain: a country that speaks the same language and just drinks much more tea, right? Wrong. My first week here was just a blur of back and forth questions between myself and my new British friends. I never realized how many difference there are in our cultures until I spent some time here. What was even more shocking was the fact that they thought things about the United States that I would never have expected. I’ve been asked three different times if high school is like High School Musical! I decided to ask around and find out what students from these countries really want to know about one another. I ended up sending five questions out to university students from each country to find out what exactly we think of each other.

Questions from American students to British students:

On average how much tea do you actually drink a week?

  1. British student 1: I hate tea.
  2. British student 2: 8-12 cups per week.
  3. British student 3: I drink zero cups of tea a week.
  4. British student 4: Maybe three a week when I’m at uni, but maybe three a day at home.
  5. British student 5: I reckon I drink around five cups of either tea or coffee a day, it just depends on how I feel.

What exactly is a “Full English Breakfast?”

  1. British student 1: Baked beans, sausages, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, toast, hash browns and bacon
  2. British student 2: Tea, bacon, egg, sausage, tomato, beans, toast, pudding and hash browns
  3. British student 3: A breakfast which is full of different foods. It usually begins with cereals or fresh fruits, but the main part of the breakfast is the bacon and eggs. I have sausages and beans with it. Other people have grilled tomatoes and mushrooms as well.
  4. British student 4: Fried eggs, bacon, sausages, bakes beans, toast, fried mushrooms, black pudding and fried tomatoes.
  5. British student 5: A “full English” is a “breakfast,” but more seen as a lunch meal. It mainly consists of pork sausage, bacon, fried or scrambled egg, pudding, hash browns (like a small potato cake with onion in it), fried bread or toast, baked beans and a large mug of either coffee or tea.

What three words do you think of when you hear “America?”

  1. British student 1: Blonde, L.A. and summer
  2. British student 2: Camp, patriotic and McDonald’s
  3. British student 3: Patriotic, big and Obama
  4. British student 4: Guns, Christians and the military
  5. British student 5: Loud, big and patriotic

From what you know, what is something you like about America that you wish was in Great Britain?

  1. British student 1: I would love for the U.K. to have the freedom that universities in America have. There’s more opportunities to study different subjects there.
  2. British student 2: More Reese’s.
  3. British student 3: How they have structure in education sport. From what I’ve learned and seen in the movies, it seems that young people don’t learn to take part in sport, but love it and have a passion for it.
  4. British student 4: The environment, like the national parks, mountains and variety of landscapes.
  5. British student 5: I don’t know how to answer this one. I’d probably say the food, just because I love food.

Without Google, How many states make up the United States and what is the capital of the nation?

  1. British student 1: 50? Washington, D.C.
  2. British student 2: 52 States. Washington, D.C.
  3. British student 3: I think it’s 53 and I’m 100% certain that it’s Washington, D.C.
  4. British student 4: 50 and it’s Washington, D.C.
  5. British student 5: Bloody hell, I’ll say 50 states all together. I really don’t know many, only the obvious ones. Lists 21 states. The national capital is Washington, D.C.

Questions from British students to American students:

Why do Americans like British accents so much?

  1. American student 1: Americans like hearing a different accent than their own from someone who speaks the same language. In addition, English accents seem proper and sophisticated.
  2. American student 2: To us, they are different. They are regal, elegant and just downright pleasing to the ear. We enjoy things that are foreign to us.
  3. American student 3: It’s different from us, but we can still understand what is being said, whereas other accents are sometimes hard to understand. Different, but familiar.
  4. American student 4: They just sound so classy.
  5. American student 5: Americans are into anything foreign really.

Why are Americans so patriotic?

  1. American student 1: Americans pronounced patriotism comes from the “Cinderella Story” of the United States hard-fought independence that led to America’s climb to becoming a world superpower.
  2. American student 2: We have the belief that we are the greatest country in the world, and that’s something I think everyone should feel about the nation they are from.
  3. American student 3: We are a major melting pot country. Rather than history or a common language that unite us, we are united by freedom which is what it means to be “American.”
  4. American student 4: I don’t know, I’m not that patriotic.
  5. American student 5: Americans are patriotic because other Americans are patriotic. It’s more of a mob mentality kind of thing.

What three words do you think of when you hear “Great Britain?”

  1. American student 1: Colonialism, tradition and decline.
  2. American student 2: Queen, Doctor Who and Buckingham.
  3. American student 3: England, futbol and Winston Churchill.
  4. American student 4: British Flag, Shakespeare and rain.
  5. American student 5: Tea, football and BBC.

From what you know, what is something you like about Great Britain that you wish was in America?

  1. American student 1: The parliamentary system that elects parties, not candidates.
  2. American student 2: I enjoy the more-than-two-party political system they have. I do not wish for quite as many parties as they have, but I would enjoy seeing more than two major parties in the US.
  3. American student 3: I wish soccer was more popular in America like it is in Britain.
  4. American student 4: Universal health care and the relaxed attitude towards alcohol.
  5. American student 5: Premier League.

Without Google, what nations make up Great Britain?

  1. American student 1: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  2. American student 2: Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England
  3. American student 3: Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England
  4. American student 4: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but that might be the United Kingdom. I’m not positive.
  5. American student 5: Ireland, England and Scotland?

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in this. I really enjoyed everyone’s answers and learned some new things myself!

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