Stereotypes of countries around the world

Keep in mind these are tidbits and/or very generalizing and playful stereotypes I’ve come up with by going to these countries and meeting people from them.

– Blunt as a knife.
– Describe distances in driving time.
– Describe time in numbers (5:50 is most times “five fifty”, not “ten to six” or “five after quarter to six”).
– Devout (comparatively to other [especially European] countries).
– Friendly.
– Loud.
– Main exports are obesity and friendliness.
– Mediocre drivers due to medium-priced driver’s tests and licenses.
– Notable music genres include rock and jazz.
– Out of shape.
– Patriotic.
– Slogan: Add sugar to everything!
– Tip most everyone.
– Use big adjectives generously (“Wow!” “That’s great!” “That sounds awesome!”).
– Use the imperial measuring system, often leading to confusion with the metric system.

The British:
– Clever.
– Crazy about gardens, just like the Dutch.
– Cynical.
– Pessimistic.
– Sarcastic.
– Sardonic.
– Tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

The Chinese:
– Arched eyebrows.
– Inconsiderate.
– Love selfie sticks.
– Use long, rectangular, barely tapered chopsticks.

The Dutch:
– Blunt.
– Carve their natural landscape into very sculpted land and waterways.
– Complain a lot about the weather.
– Culturally “hip”.
– Cycle everywhere.
– Dead serious.
– Devoiced consonants in Dutch and English: “I haf two kits and a dok.”
– Don’t care how they dress. Jeans everyday.
– Dry humor.
– Fantastic public transportation.
– Frequently have dirty blond hair and light eyes.
– Gardens are taken seriously, just like with the British, and tons of people have them if they have space, usually in their very square front yards.
– Good drivers because driver’s tests and licenses are expensive.
– Great English.
– Have mini gas stations just off the road.
– Hope you’re good at parallel parking.
– Love cheese.
– Main exports are tulips and sarcasm.
– Most laws follow the train of thought of “Just don’t be an asshole.”
– National consumables are meat and bread.
– Notable music genres include trance, house, hardcore, and almost any other kind of electronica.
– Open.
– Play largely current American music.
– Postpositions. Postpositions everywhere. (Dutch “halen op” [lit. “fetch up“] = raise, collect)
– Prepositions too. Because why not both? (Dutch “ophalen” [lit. “up fetch”] = raise, collect)
– Rough-sounding language.
– Sausage eaters.
– Slogan: Eat fattening foods and meats, then bike it off.
– Soccer!
– Speed cameras everywhere.
– The more well off brothers of Germany and Belgium.
– Tolerant.
– Tons of roundabouts, which make turn signals very important.
– What is makeup? Compare especially this to the French…

The French:
– Always cover the face, neck, and hands with moisturizer and sun protection.
– Artistic.
– Care very much about the difference between a “fleuve” and a “rivière”.
– Carry one huge bag/purse for everything, be it makeup, snacks, a laptop, or anything else.
– Conservative.
– Dating: The men are persistent, the women play hard to get. The power is usually all with the female, and she is not obligated to sleep with a man no matter how many dates he takes her on. You’re probably in a relationship with a French person if you’ve kissed them, whether it’s been stated or not.
– Don’t move their mouths much when speaking.
– Don’t really change styles throughout the seasons; prefer to invest in high quality, “timeless” items for all year, such as black or brown boots (but don’t mix these colors) or gold or silver jewelry (also never mixed).
– Don’t speak much English.
– Drink black coffee in the morning and water otherwise. For special occasions, white wine in summer, red wine with meat, white wine with fish, etc.
– Eat four meals a day: breakfast, lunch (the biggest), 4 o’clock, and dinner.
– Enjoy their morning and makeup routine; use shampoos that smell divine,  listen to music, add salt to the bath, make tea for during.
– “Euhh…”
– Flirting is an art.
– Food is an art.
– Healthy.
– Keep staple clothes that are well-fitted, usually a simple shirt, a blazer, a turtleneck, a dress, heels, a scarf, and blue jeans. When in doubt, they wear black; it’s always chic.
– Love cheese and wine.
– Love debate and philosophy.
– Love elaborately-draped scarves.
– Love neutral colors and – save for blue jeans being a third – usually don’t wear more than two colors at a time (especially not brown with black). One accent color item (e.g. scarf, hat, earrings, statement necklace, large bracelet) can then be used to break up the monotony of the neutral colors.
– Love perfume and cologne, and transition from eau de toilette – eau de parfum – parfum depending on their mood, age, the occasion, etc.
– Love red lipstick and nail polish.
– Loving philanderers: Very tender, romantic, and loving, but also frequently flirt and sleep around.
– Makeup: Love brands. Chanel No. 5 parfum is a weapon. Highlight their unique features, and mainly only use foundation to cover blemishes (“play your strengths and hide your flaws a little bit, but don’t change how you actually look”). Prefer gold tones for makeup instead of pink or apricot. Use makeup either on the eyes or lips, but not both. Love red lipstick, but rarely any other color; to go from daytime to nighttime makeup, many Parisians just change to a darker lip shade (when concentrating on lips) or add black eyeliner (when concentrating on eyes) and keep everything else the same. Barely tweeze eyebrow hairs that are above the eyebrow; just go over them with a gel or so to make them a bit bolder, but don’t change fuzzy eyebrows much. Wear light, natural-looking makeup.
– Masterful at the art of sex.
– Not sporty.
– Overuse “this” and “it” instead of “that” when speaking English (e.g. “This is good to hear”, “Is it okay?”).
– Purses match the shoes, except for cocktail dresses and evening gowns, where the shoes match the dress instead.
– Reserved body language.
– Romantic.
– Show skin on the top (e.g. shoulders) or the bottom (e.g. legs), but not both.
– Smoke like chimneys.
– Take a lot of time eating, and rarely snack.
– Think talking about money is course and rude.
– Very secretive about their personal makeup routine and often about the fragrance they’re wearing.
– Wear ballerinas/flats/loafers to work, and never sneakers.
– Wear white socks with light shoes and black socks with dark shoes, and that’s it. No other color socks exist.
– When wearing blue jeans, dress them down with sneakers or up with a blazer and heels.
– Women don’t pour their own wine.

The Japanese:
– Change speech politeness level largely based on achieved status and intimacy (horizontal differentiation, less innately hierarchical than Korean).
– Clear separation between spoken sounds in the language due to vowel placement in syllables, unlike Korean.
– Have small food portions.
– Insincere.
– Like savory food.
– Love postpositions. (Japanese “二時から八時まで” [“niji kara hachiji made“] = from 2 o’clock until 8 o’clock)
– Love selfie sticks.
– Obsessed with plastic wrap.
– Obsessed with sorting trash.
– Polite.
– Prefer to stand out more than Koreans; not as same-y.
– Put food in perfectly-fitted containers, unlike the Koreans or Chinese.
– Read comics from right to left.
– Relish pristine and clean surroundings.
– Repressed.
– Secure about their place in the world.
– Smoke in public and in many restaurants.
– Use short, rounder, tapered, wooden chopsticks.
– Value simplicity, especially simplistic beauty.
– Wear cute clothing.

– Bad drivers.
– Believe red lights are optional.
– Change speech politeness level largely based on age and social status (vertical differentiation, more innately hierarchical than Japanese).
– Conservative.
– Cookie-cutter dress and makeup.
– Crammed into unimaginative high rise apartment buildings.
– Deny LGBTQ exists.
– Dislike their neighboring countries and don’t like the rest of Asia.
– Don’t smoke in restaurants (unlike the Japanese), and the older generation still considers women smoking in Korea as “trashy.”
– End sentences with the same sounds repeatedly.
– Fashionable.
– Great public transportation.
– Great at memorization, mediocre at learning for keeps.
– Have difficulty pronouncing c (“shi”), f (“epu”), h (“ay-chi”), l (“al”), q (“koo”), r (“ar”), v (“vwee”),  and z (“jed”) in English.
– Hierarchical.
– Hiss when thinking of words to say; noticeably, no other culture I’ve encountered seems to do this.
– Insecure about their place in the world.
– Insincere.
– Let the elderly, especially old ladies, take over and push people around.
– Like spicy food.
– Like whitewashed apartments with entirely white appliances, cupboards, furniture, etc.
– Literally addicted to their smartphones.
– Love selfie sticks.
– Main exports are eye strain and mobile technology.
– Mumbled and purposefully incomplete sounds in the language are strung together in favor of ease of speaking; m’s are b’s, n’s are d’s, etc.
– National consumables are kimchi, rice, pepper paste, and Americano coffee.
– Notable music genres include k-pop.
– Obsessed with appearances.
– Okay English; some of the best English in East Asia.
– Overexerted in studying.
– Plastic surgery crazed.
– Powdered white faces for “beauty” purposes.
– Read comics from left to right.
– Repressed.
– Respectful of authority.
– Same-y and overly homogeneous, both in personality and looks.
– Stuck rather ironically in the Internet’s past for all of their modern technology.
– There’s Korean age, and then there’s American age (used by the rest of the world, but they call it American age); Korean age starts counting from the date of conception, not the date of birth, so Koreans are younger than the age they say they are by about a year or so.
– Use adjectives as verbs.
– Use explosive, halfway-in-between consonants: a g regularly sounds like a k and vice-versa.
– Use medium length, flat, slightly tapered, stainless steel chopsticks.
– Use technology for technology’s sake.
– Used to bland-looking, white-washed apartments with little personality.
– Very into MOBA games.
– Well-dressed.
– Whiny.
– Work long hours but don’t actually do much.
– Would rather be confused with the Chinese instead of the Japanese.

– Adhere to janteloven – purposefully not sticking out too much amongst each other – more than the Swedish.
– Athletic.
– Blonde and blue-eyed.
– Born with skis on their feet.
– Community-oriented.
– Drink due to boredom.
– Enjoy game-y food.
– Enjoy the wealth the Norwegian national oil fund (often just “The Fund“) brings.
– Familiar with other western cultures largely due to TV.
– Fruit eaters.
– Functionally fashionable.
– Good drivers because driver’s tests and licenses are expensive.
– Good-looking, especially women.
– Great at winter sports.
– Great English.
– Great public transportation.
– Have fewer celebrities than Sweden, but also half the population.
– Have more spikes in their intonation than the Swedes.
– Healthy.
– Hunters.
– Language is more masculine than Swedish (Norwegian = masculine Swedish).
– Less prone to mumbling than Swedes.
– Less well-traveled than the Swedish.
– Love postpositions. (Norwegian “herfra” = from here)
– Main exports are oil, fish, and the color red.
– Momma’s boys and daddy’s girls.
– More outdoorsy than Sweden, but not as “hip” or techy.
– National consumables are tacos and Pepsi Max.
– New money vs. Sweden’s old money.
– Notable music genres include folk and metal.
– Patriotic, more than Sweden.
– Play American music largely from a few years ago.
– Polite.
– Reserved.
– Socially awkward.
– Think spending $1000 on a quality winter jacket is not that weird.
– Understand tons of dialects.
– Very traditional formalwear.
– Wealthy.
– Wear edgier and more sporty clothing than Swedes.
– Well-dressed.
– Well-educated.

– Adhere to jantelagen – purposefully not sticking out too much amongst each other – less than the Norwegians.
– Blonde and blue-eyed.
– Don’t eat Swedish Fish as much as Americans.
– Draw out their vowels to an almost unnatural-sounding degree.
– Familiar with other cultures largely due to TV and travel.
– Good-looking.
– Great public transportation.
– Have been modern longer than Norway.
– Have more celebrities than Norway, but also twice the population.
– Language is more feminine than Norwegian (Swedish = feminine Norwegian).
– Main exports are IKEA and H&M.
– More “hip” and techy than Norwegians, but not as outdoorsy.
– More prone to mumbling than Norwegians.
– Not as overtly patriotic as Norwegians.
– Old money vs. Norway’s new money.
– Very modern.
– Wear more fashionable clothing than Norwegians.
– Well-dressed.
– Well-educated.
– Well-traveled.

The Taiwanese:
– More overweight than Koreans or the Japanese largely due to cheap and unhealthy food everywhere.
– The younger generation of girls seems to quite like skimpy clothing, probably due to the hot weather.

When I visit more countries and stay in them for at least a few weeks (enough to get a general idea of the people there), I’ll add more to this. Tell me: what are some stereotypes or idiosyncrasies you’ve experienced or heard about people from these countries?

  • Katie, love this write up a ton! Hope you are having a great time, and I look forward to our paths crossing sometime in the future, warmest regards – Vish