June 15, 2015 How easy is it to distinguish Americans from people from other countries while abroad? According to a handful of tell-tale signs noted by students from all over the world, it’s a cinch.
YouTuber SW Yoon interviewed international students from a number of different countries at Japanâ€™s Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, asking how they were able to pick out other students who were visiting from the USA.
The observations they shared ran the gamut from looks to behaviors to personality traits, with many taking the opportunity to poke fun at the country’s popular culture and stereotypes.
What all of the international students interviewed could agree on was that, yes, there were ways to tell which of their fellow students were American.
While accent was a major factor, body size seemed to be just as important.
‘White, fat,’ says one young woman from Germany, laughing as she offered up her thoughts on American students. Her friend agrees, using slightly more politically correct terminology as she adds: ‘Usually they have a bit more weight on their hips.’
‘They eat a lot of hamburgers, so if you see like a person with McDonald’s, he’s probably American,’ adds the first German girl, while her friend jokingly mimes stuffing her face. They note that even in Japan, where there is a wealth of new food for them to try, students from the US still enjoy eating at the American burger chain often.
A young Japanese man adds more suggestions of the typical American student’s diet, saying: ‘If they’re eating pizza, American. If they’re drinking a Coke, American.’
â€¢ Students from around the world were interviewed at Japan’s Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
â€¢ Many agreed that Americans are ‘bigger’, wear loose clothing, and prefer to eat American food
â€¢ The interviewees also said that students from the US were louder and more confident than those from other countries
‘[They’re] often a bit overweight,’ offers a tall blonde student from Sweden. He then laughs when his friend, bringing a fork from a take-out container to his mouth, adds: ‘It’s like they’re always eating.’
While several other students from countries like Lithuania, England, and Japan confirm that the Americans they see tend to be ‘plump’, ‘chubby’, and ‘fatty’, not everyone interviewed thought ‘big’ was bad.
‘I can see they have impressive muscular development,’ said one young Japanese woman, while a female student from Estonia added that Americans have more muscular faces.
However, it’s not just the size of the body that’s a red flag – it’s also the size of the clothes covering it up.
‘They wear clothes real big,’ says a young man from South Korea, while students from England, Italy, Norway, and Japan agree that clothes are an obvious indicator. One young man from from Sweden lists sweatpants and big t-shirts as American staples.
‘The clothes they wear when they are sleeping, they usually wear it for school,’ explains a young woman from Indonesia, who is nicely dressed up in a purple bow-topped blouse and a mauve head-scarf.
Her friend agrees: ‘They wear what they like. They just don’t care what people think about it.’
Not caring what people think, in general, seems to be a major theme for Americans abroad, according to the international students, some of whom added that they admire the laid-back attitude that they feel many Americans have.
‘They usually smoke and put out their smoke wherever they want,’ says a student from Uzbekistan.
‘They think they own the world,’ adds a man from Norway.
The interviewees also pointed to a seeming lack of the concept of ‘inside voices’ in their US-born classmates.
‘When you hear someone who is shouting at someone, you can see he’s American,’ says one of the Uzbek students. Others from Sweden, Norway, and Honduras agree that ‘loud’ is a common USA descriptor.
Though many of the interviews indicated ways that Americans could improve their behavior while in other countries, not every stereotype that the international students shared was negative. In fact, many discussed American confidence and friendliness.
‘They’re really outgoing, I think, and very confident,’ says a student from Costa Rica. He continues: ‘I think they always want to play drinking games. They really wanna, you know, make sure everybody gets really wasted and make sure everybody takes a lot of shots.’
A Norwegian adds: ‘Since I’m from Norway, we’re not that noisy. We’re not that open, maybe. We don’t got to people and say: “Hey, what’s up?”‘
Two Japanese girls agree that American are funny, while an Indonesian student describes them as ‘honest’ and a Kenyan student calls them ‘happy, jolly, all the time.’
That positive outlook sets Americans apart from many other western cultures, explains a young man from Japan: ‘I guess they tend to be positive. They look, like, pretty satisfied with their lives. That’s what makes them different from British people and Australian people.’
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