Common misconceptions that Indian students have about USA and Americans

One’s perception about a country and its people is to a large extent determined by its popular culture. After the Second World War in 1942, United States emerged as a global economic and military power and continues to shape and dominate world affairs even today. And even after 75 years since the end of Second World War, its technological and entrepreneurial supremacy is yet to be challenged.

For many, America is more than just a prosperous and powerful North American country; it is the enterprise consisting of over 325 million people. There is hardly any person in the planet, who has remained untouched by its soft or, in some cases, hard power. However, while media and businesses helped build brand America, they also created certain stereotypes and misconceptions among people about the country and its people.

In this blog, Student Cover highlights some misconceptions that Indian students have about the US and its people.

1. Americans eat hamburgers for meal

Thanks to fast food outlets like McDonald’s and Burger King, most Indians believe that Americans eat burgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And while they widely consumed in United States, they do not constitute a person’s everyday meal. Like everyone else, Americans too love home cooked meals. However, their home cooked meals are very different from that Indians are used to back home. They include greens, baked or mashed potatoes, stew and yes, huge quantities of meat that contain little or no spices.

2. USA is a cold country

United States of America is the third largest country in the world and, like India, covers a vast geographic space consisting of freezing arctic region (Alaska), deserts (Nevada) as well as tropical beaches (Miami) and marshy coastlines (from Maine to Florida). Therefore, while visiting United States for educational or other purposes, one must check the local weather and climate of the region that he or she is traveling to and pack clothes accordingly.

3. Laws are same everywhere

United States has a vibrant federal system of governance consisting of counties, districts, states and central government. However, unlike India, states have more power when it comes to making and implementing laws. For example, some states in the US such as Iowa, Illinois, and North Dakota have abolished death penalty whereas others such as Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia still have death penalty. Therefore, no two states may have same law.

4. You won’t get treatment if you don’t have insurance

While it is mandatory for international students to have health insurance, that doesn’t mean that one will be denied treatment if he or she falls sick or gets injured in the U.S. Medical institutions are legally bound to provide critical and emergency care if a person is injured or sick. However, this treatment does not come for free and the recipient of treatment has to pay the medical bill in future. Additionally, unlike Indian hospitals, medical institutions in the US do discharge the patient even if they haven’t paid the bill. They are however contacted by recovery agents and asked to pay the bill.

5. Bullying is common in US universities

This misconception has been created overtime due to the exaggerated portrayal of incidents of bullying in schools and colleges by media and movies coming from Hollywood. Like every country, bullying is an issue in the U.S. too. However, it is not as severe as it is portrayed and authorities in school and colleges do provide support to students who happen to get bullied by fellow students.

6. Americans are ignorant and racist

While this may apply to those who live in countryside or are not very well educated. However, most Americans are pretty smart even if they don’t know as much about India and Indians as Indians know about United States. Every country has a fair share of smart and ignorant people. Therefore, one must not be quick to judge someone either as dumb or smart. If the U.S. was filled with dumb and ignorant people, it would not have remained global economic, technological and military power for decades. On racism front, there might be instances of acts of violence or police brutality but it cannot be ignored that the U.S. is one of the most cosmopolitan countries in the world and every country has its own share of racist bigots.

Let’s Sum Up!

As the saying goes, ‘Never judge a book by its cover’. Like every other country, there are certain stereotypes associated with the land and its people. What is projected about the US in media or popular culture may not be universal. There are always exceptions to the rule and one must not judge people, country or habits by rumors or hearsay.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is based on personal research of the writer. Readers’ discretion is advised. Neither Student Cover nor the writer will be held responsible for any wrongful interpretation of the content of this blog.

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