Posts Tagged ‘stereotyping’

38. Teaching English Overseas

Friday, May 7th, 2010

I get it. You have an Arts degree. You don’t know what to do with your life; no particular career path in sight. You enjoy traveling and experiencing other cultures. You’re really into photography, architecture, music, geography, politics, history and ethnic cuisine. Yeah, you already told me you have an Arts degree.

In many ways, teaching English is like working in a restaurant. You can cling to whatever shreds of youth you have left. You can make decent cash without putting in too much of an effort. You can plug away, take time off, travel, not have a mortgage. Surround yourself with other people who are young or want to stay young. You can screw your co-workers without all that drama. It’s a good life.

This guy is a huge pimp in Korean nightclubs.

This guy is a huge pimp in Korean nightclubs.

I’m not against it. I’ve done the restaurant thing and more than once, I’ve considered teaching English abroad. I have family members and close friends who have done it or are currently doing it. Still, you have to admit it’s become a cliché.

I’ve decided there’s a three-year shelf life for teaching English overseas. You can’t really keep doing it forever. People your age are getting on with their lives back home. Unless you’ve reached true enlightenment (i.e. abandoned your native social pressure toward adult responsibility) you eventually have to hang it up, come home, attend to your ailing parents, get a real job, etc.

Becoming enlightened requires you to let go of your former self, to become a new, more confident person. There are a lot of “fresh starts” on the English teacher scene. Band, drama or Magic Card nerds starting anew on foreign soil. Misfits who dig Indie music (and wear skinny jeans, scarves, Chuck Taylors, etc.), who didn’t really fit in in high school, some of whom got bullied and are still bitter about it. Virgins.

Many of these people flourish overseas. Finally freed from the judgement of the “cool people” they grew up with, they can party their faces off and convince new groups of people they are actually cool.

Some of these awkward, newly-minted swans not only lose their virginity overseas, they actually start scoring quite a bit. This is especially true for guys. White guys, however homely they may appear, can become rockstars. I’ve seen the goofiest-looking geeks rocking primo arm candy in Japan. These guys are macking on girls way out of their leagues — girls of this caliber back home wouldn’t give them the time of day. (On the flip side, Japanese girls might be the female version of Hal from Shallow Hal. Where we see a hapless loser, they see Brad Pitt.)

Many of these nerd macks enjoy their newfound swagger so much, they never come home. That, or they lost their virginity to a pretty Japanese girl who cooked them breakfast the next morning and they thought, “I could get used to this,” in which case they married the girl and stayed in Japan forever. Their parents back home, instead of being dismayed that their son will indefinitely remain a million miles away, are ecstatic that a pretty girl actually gave the bastard the time of day. They sometimes worry the Japanese bride will figure out she’s been duped, but they quickly dismiss those suspicions. Their kid is happy.

Besides, nerdy white guys cannot resist Asian women. My buddy, who is a hard-core F.E.T. (Far East Talent) man*, often likened himself to John Lennon. Not that Yoko Ono was super hot or anything. Frankly she freaks me out, but anyway, you know what I mean (see SWPL.com or Yellow Fever). Woody Allen and Nicolas Cage are a couple other celebrity examples.

*He actually came up with the F.E.T. acronym, too. A real pioneer.

I feel like I’m getting way off topic, but am I, really? This is all part of the Teaching English ritual.

Fat/ugly girls do it, thinking they can get a fresh start, too. Not in Japan, honey. Your male counterparts are too busy having a heyday with skinny/tiny/ageless/pretty/subservient Japanese girls. Meanwhile, the Japanese guys don’t wanna mess with your man hands and cankles. (Heaven only knows why Japanese guys don’t  fall for less-attractive white gals the way their countrywomen do for the aforementioned nerds.) It’s frustrating as hell, I know, but don’t worry.

You’ll only have to deal with it for three years, tops.

Backpacking in the News

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Link to article: What Type of Backpacker Are You?

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That's Matt, in Australia

This article was originally posted to Nomadicmatt.com in July 2009 by Matt from Boston, a self-professed travel junkie.

Some things I like about Matt (from his About Me page):

  • His favorite country is Thailand and his favorite city is Amsterdam. Both solid choices.
  • He’s down with buying bootlegged movies on the street in Asia.
  • Everything he owns fits into one bag. Very Clooney, on Up In The Air!
  • He hates people who brag about travel. “(They) are insecure and aggravate me,” he writes.
  • He wishes he had a better ear for languages. Don’t we all.
  • He doesn’t have a strong desire to go to China. I’ve also felt this way.

Backpacking in the News

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Link to article: 10 Stereotypical Backpacker Nationalities

canadianbackpacker

Only a Canuck would suntan with the tube socks on.

This article was originally posted on BootsnAll.com by Amy Heading back in July 2009.

I got a kick out of a comment posted on Heading’s article by Beachcombers (05 March 2010): “Not to sure about the Israeli backpacker description. Friendly was not the first thing that leaped to mind. Aggressive, arrogant, rude, nihilistic perhaps….But Israeli chicks are super hot!”

Backpacking in the News

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Link to article: 10 Things Backpackers Do But Don’t Often Talk About

stolentp

25. Crazy Israeli Guys

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Every country has good and bad citizens. One can only hope that the citizens traveling the world and representing one’s nationality are good ones, people who build a solid reputation for their country. Unfortunately for Israel, a disproportionate number of young, male Israeli backpackers are crazy and thus contribute to a poor international image for their countrymen.

israeli

Just as with my post about Aussie Guys, I initially called this one “Crazy Israelis,” only to change it because it’s really only the males that annoy me. Most female Israelis I’ve met on the backpacking circuit are nice, not to mention, attractive. Their being attractive might be why their male counterparts are prone to peacocking and giving non-Israeli backpackers the stinkeye whenever all three parties meet.

I’m accustomed to foreign guys being protective of their women. That’s normal. This post is not about that alone. I’ve met Israeli guys that display a sociopathic disregard for public decency, a desire to make other travelers feel uncomfortable or even afraid, and an enjoyment of mocking other people and cultures.

I think a lot of their wild behavior is a result of conscription. “The backpacking trip (is) a common custom, nearly normative, among Israeli youth in the period soon after the military service,” wrote Chaim Noy and Erik Cohen, in their book,  Israeli Backpackers and Their Society: A View from Afar.

The direct transition from soldier to traveler implies that many such backpackers may still be shellshocked. Noy and Cohen note that the “massive participation in backpacking expresses the demobilized soldiers’ need to ‘relax’ and ‘unwind’ following the intense years spent in the army.” I would concur, if interpretations of relaxing and unwinding include: being a cocky prick, acting recklessly or even dangerously (see photo below), reacting aggressively to the mildest opposition, yelling and rambunctious diplays while drinking, and general insanity.

israeli2

Darya Maoz, who teaches a class at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University called Sociological and Anthropological Aspects of Tourism and Backpacking, described stereotypes of Israeli backpackers in  Outside magazine (Aug. 2005):  “They tend to be rude, to curse the locals, to ruin things if they are not satisfied… they don’t respect local people, they party all night, they take a lot of drugs, and if people say something, some Israelis call them Nazis.”

Crazy Israeli guys are guilty of many of the same offenses as the typical Aussie guy, colored with whatever inclinations a few months of patrolling the West Bank can bring.

It’s a funny comparison when considering a letter written in 2006 on www.ynetnews.com by Nicola Lipman, a Jewish-Australian backpacker:  A message to my ugly brother. Lipman acknowledges the negative stereotypes perpetuated by Israeli travelers: “I realzied it was the loud, obnoxious type (and not the friendly, funny and interesting type) who were immediately identifiable as Israeli and giving the whole country a bad name.”

And that’s coming from an Australian.

Also in 2006, freelance writer Jeff Koyen wrote a column for www.jewcy.com, entitled The Israeli Asshole, in defense of obnoxious Israeli travelers. In the column, Koyen presents arguments as to why Israeli travelers are generally perceived of as douchebags and why it’s OK for them to continue being douchebags.

“Raised in their own land, speaking their own language, Israelis have freed themselves from the anxious self-monitoring still experienced by the Jews of the Diaspora,” he wrote. “The Jews of Israel have learned to stop apologizing. Early Zionists would have taken great pleasure in knowing this day would arrive. Perhaps we should take some pleasure in it, too.”

Uh, sure. We should all take pleasure in things we consider reprehensible, like child pornography and female circumcision. After all, the perpetrators have learned to be unrepentant about their cause. Good for them! Let’s celebrate their offenses as justifiable acts of self-preservation. Koyen has clearly lost his mind as well.

Atop Koyen’s column is a photo of a sign, from Bella Bella Guesthouse in the Khao San Road district of Bangkok, saying that it does not accept Israelis because of problems it has had with them in the past. Coincidentally, I took a picture of the same type of sign when I stayed at Bella Bella in 2007, but this one had a damning newspaper article attached to it:

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Few bad reviews can compare with a simple refusal of service. It’s pretty crazy, really.

Backpacking in the News

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009
dfmos
Classic DFMO. Note the tribal tattoo.

What a shocking bit of news. You mean to tell me that backpackers are promiscuous? And they drink too much? No way.

Hmm… Perhaps the backpacking, drinking and promiscuity are related. Worth looking into.

A few highlights:

  • Over 430 backpackers in hostels across Sydney answered questions about their boozing and scoring tendencies for an Australian study, which also tested for Chlamydia. Subjects ranged from 18 to 30, with an average age of about 23 and an even distribution of men and women.
  • 3.1 percent of men had Chlamydia; 3.9 percent of women had it.
  • 7.6 percent of men reported a previous case of Chlamydia; 10.1 percent of women previously had it.
  • That pushes the percentage of ever having Chalmydia to 10.7 percent for men and 14 percent for women.
  • 31 percent of men had a new sexual partner en route to Australia; 20 percent of women had one.
  • 60 percent of respondents said they “always” used protection.
  • 33 percent of men are drinking over double the recommended daily intake of alcohol; 28 percent of women are doing so.

Doing a study like this is like polling Jamaicans to see if they smoke weed. Backpackers can regularly be seen having unprotected sex on the shore at Full Moon Parties, for chrissakes. While the investigative process was no doubt entertaining, we already knew the answers. I want to see a study examining the amount of beenouing going on in Sydney hostels. Wait a second, I know the answer to that question too: A lot.

10. Anti-Americanism

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

If you’ve spent any time overseas, you are either familiar with the widespread Anti-Americanism being perpetuated on the backpacker circuit or guilty of contributing to it. It’s such a big problem that it’s truly inescapable.

anti-americanismAlthough the prevailing Anti-American sentiment has taken the form of distrust-under-the-guise-of-acceptance since the election of President Obama, it is not genuine. “Giving Americans a chance” is simply trendy right now. As much as they’d like to deny it, backpackers love trendy.

During the George W. Bush era, it was far too easy to hate on Americans. Since backpackers also love stereotypes*, any American they met while traveling was categorized as a redneck agent of capitalism, war and ignorance - three things backpackers openly codemn. Any possibility that said American could be an open-minded, educated Gore voter (which most young backpackers were) was promptly disregarded.

Keeping on the theme of stereotypes, Europeans are without a doubt the most condescending people on the planet, so it should come as no surprise that they are the most active Yankee bashers as well. The French, for example, have a long history of hating the United States (see Why do the French hate us?). They are quick to overlook, however, their known affinity to several pillars of Americana: Hollywood movies, cigarette smoking, blue jeans and black music.

Contemporary Anti-Americanism has led many Canadian backpackers to mistakenly believe their shit does not stink. This notion is the product of an overwhelming national inferiority complex, similar to that of Kiwis to Aussies. A vast majorty of Kiwi and Canadian backpackers are convinced that because everybody seems to hate their more powerful and cooler neighbors, it makes themselves superior. Consider renowned Kiwi movie director Peter Jackson for a moment. Dude is talented. But he is by no means cool.

It’s about the accents. Canadians and Kiwis will tell you their accents are markedly different from those of Americans and Aussies, respectively. The foreign ear, however, can detect no such differences. Thus, a common scenario takes place across the globe:

  1. Canadian/Kiwi speaks.
  2. Foreigner assumes speaker is American/Aussie, expresses dislike.
  3. Canadian/Kiwi freaks out.
  4. Foreigner apologizes, retracts and feigns approval for Canadians/Kiwis.
  5. Canadian/Kiwi feels awesome, purports to being cooler than Americans/Aussies.

About 10 years ago, a nasty rumor surfaced that American backpackers, so fed up of being vilified at every turn, were sewing Canadian flag patches onto their backpacks. These allegations were no doubt a smear-campaign-under-the-guise-of-a-beenou-campaign created by a smug prick Canadian. Or maybe it was a Kiwi…

*Note: This blog is riddled with stereotypes.