In case you didn’t already know, I am of Chinese origin. (Well, my father is from Taiwan, but please let’s not get into that whole does Taiwan belong to China/I’m actually mixed-race argument. For simplicity’s sake, I’m Chinese.) I wear glasses. I do (or did) kung fu. I eat with chopsticks, I brought a rice cooker all the way to Switzerland, I have kittens everytime I see anything Hello Kitty. I go red when I drink. I like street dance. So far, so Asian.
Oh, but wait. I can’t really speak Chinese. I study Classics and French (as opposed to, oh I don’t know, Actuarial Science. Accounting. Engineering. Economics. Whatever other “practical” subjects Chinese parents force on their kids so they can start earning lots of money, fast). Everyone tells me I am “English”.
I’ve mentioned stereotypes several times already here and here. But it’s such a big topic, I’m not done with it just yet. So, here are some stereotypes that seem to be flying around alot, and my personal take on them:
Swiss people are cold – Weeeell, in my experience, no. I’d say the general attitude of shop or administrative staff is a good deal friendlier than what I’m used to.
Swiss people are friendly – Of course I can’t speak for the entire populace, but so far that’s the impression I’m getting. It might depend on which city you are in though.
Swiss Germans are really uptight and organised – I haven’t met many Swiss Germans, so I can’t really comment on that. I’ll let you know when I come back from Zürich next week.
Germans are really uptight and ordered – I have met lots of German people here. Uptight they are not, though I don’t know about the orderliness. I was told recently that 60% of trains in Germany run late, so presumably that stereotype is not necessarily credible.
Swiss people hate French people – I’m going to step carefully around this one, but there is a general feeling in the air that the French can be rather patronizing and dismissive of “les petites Suisses“… Even though in truth it’s the opposite, as Swiss people are generally taller.
All English people love tea – True. So true.
Chinese students all study hard – Well, you only have to look at the sizeable gaps in my attendance record to draw your own conclusion as to the accuracy of this claim (8:30 starts are hard!)…but then, do I really qualify as Chinese? Again, let’s not get into that…
Stereotypes are a load of cack – Well, I think there’s never smoke without fire. It’s a tricky one, because even if someone appears to fit a stereotype (such as moi), it’s not definitive. Stereotypes can be surprisingly accurate but also overly simple, and often a highly efficient way of offending lots of people in one fell swoop. So use with caution!