“Europeans are always on strike”

A few days ago we met with several of C.’s friends. One of them told me:

– “Europeans finish work at 3 pm and they don’t do anything for the rest of the day, right? They have very relaxed lives”.

I told him that when I was working in Spain I finished work at 6.30 or 7 pm. He looked confused. “But you frequently go on strike, right? And there’s a lot of people on benefits and they don’t work or do anything”.

This guy went to Germany for a business trip last year, so I am wondering what he saw there. Or maybe he got these ideas from reading the news.

He also asked me if it was true that meals last for 5 or 6 hours. I don’t know, if it’s a party, maybe. Or perhaps Italian families! I also have this stereotype in my head of Italians having large family gatherings and eating and chatting for hours. But I guess they only do this on the weekends and on holidays. Unless they finish work at 3 and then spend the rest of the day eating!

A few days later I had a related conversation with C.’s mum. She had found a bag with all of C.’s report cards from primary to high school. Well, they were not exactly cards, more like booklets. While I was checking them and laughing at the time he got a 34 in history, his mum asked me if schools in Spain also graded children. I answered that of course and she was very surprised. Now I’m wondering if (some) Chinese people think schools in western countries are just playgrounds where kids go to have fun!

C.’s grades for one of the trimesters of the 1996-1997 school year. His grades were still good (although not as good as mine, haha).


What are some surprising stereotypes that foreigners have about your country?