With another school year coming to an end, students have the chance to look back on the past eight months. For first-time University of Tampa international students, this often means reflecting on their experience in an entirely different culture.
American culture is often stereotyped as being racist and close-minded, but here at UT, students feel differently. A majority of both international and national students interviewed have agreed upon the fact that while UT is not a racist community, it is a community brimming with small stereotypes and tensions. Students also agree that people subconsciously use racial profiling and make cliques depending on their nationalities.
International English student Tala Elajou agrees that people, for the most part, hang out with those from similar backgrounds in tight groups of friends.
“I think the better English you speak, the more American people you are going to get along with,” Elajou said. “I feel like people don’t want to put effort into understanding what someone is trying to communicate if their English is bad. It’s like that in England too,” she continued. “We tend to discriminate against people in school that don’t speak English well.”
Elajou feels that students are not discourteous towards other students with poor English, but are definitely more involved and friendly with more advanced English-speaking students.
However, racism, stereotypes, and generalizations are not one-way streets. International Peruvian student Jerico Oliveri believes that international students that are new to the United States are more open to being racist towards Americans. He stated that before coming to the United States, the only way of knowing the American culture was through television and other media with some stereotypical opinions. One American stereotype he encountered before entering the U.S. was the idea that Americans will only have a good time if they are intoxicated.
“I think ignorance plays a big role in stereotyping and racism,” Oliveri said. “I think that international students are friendly and excited to learn but when presented to ignorance it can lead to racism.” Oliveri added, “UT is like a big old high school full of cliques and I think what you wear also gives off a certain vibe, but to my surprise I have been wrong about a lot of people.”