All around the world, everyone thinks of others as like themselves, or not like themselves, based on stereotypes. There are TONS of stereotypes about Americans. We’re fat, we’re ruthless, we’re obnoxiously loud. There’s a stereotype about stereotypes, that there’s a kernel of truth in each one of them. Groups of people can have common cultural traits, but people are so different from each other regardless of their “category” that you can’t judge an individual person by the stereotypes about their group. Also, people change… they’re different at different times. For example, most women are “fat” when they’re eight months pregnant.
You know those stereotypes about Americans? Well, there are stereotypes about the Chinese, as well.
The “stereotypical Chinese person” is:
- Good at math, but bad at English
- Extremely patient
- Excellent at playing piano or violin
- A poor communicator
- Quiet or shy
- A bookwork
Americans’ impressions of the Chinese go beyond stereotypes about individual people and cover worldwide interaction. The United States is concerned that it won’t be a superpower within a century that claims no single dominant power while the world looks to growing powers like China, India, and Brazil. In particular, China is BIG. It has sooooo many people, and Americans fear that China is quickly buying the United States. This leads to a certain trepidation when it comes to America’s view of China in terms of the future and Chinese supremacy.
What does all this mean for you as you apply to schools in the US? How about living in America? In either case, it means you should just BE YOURSELF. Show people that you’re UNIQUE, through your talents, interests, sense of humor, and creativity. Especially with the adcom, it’s important to make yourself unforgettable, both by standing out from the crowd and by presenting yourself as a PERSON, not just a profile. Once you get to school, regardless of state or country, the people you meet will want to get to know who YOU are, no matter your race, nationality, or favorite sports team. Even if parts of you feel like a “walking stereotype,” remember that Americans are stereotypical in others. You’ll be okay.