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Students challenge cultural sterotypes
Group finds what theyve seen and heard isnt always true
Maria Jose Brenes Zimbado, of Costa Rica, right, relates to students her experiences when she first arrived in the U.S. to study at North Georgia College & State University. As part of International Education Week at NGCSU, international students and students who have returned from studying abroad discussed how the media and movies portray cultures around the world and how this differs from real life.

What's going on?

Check out some of the events going on during International Education Week at North Georgia College & State University.

North Georgia faculty and staff share their experiences traveling abroad as volunteers with various organizations.
When: 12:30 p.m.
Where: Room 016 in the Newton Oakes Center

Michael Jacob, an award-winning Cherokee recording artist, performs and discusses his tribe's history.
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Special collections room in the Library Technology Center

North Georgia graduates who studied abroad or were international students are invited to a reception from 6-9 p.m.
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Former Alumni House off Morrison Moore Parkway


Local and international students opened up Wednesday about the stereotypes in other cultures as part of North Georgia College & State University's International Education Week.

Sponsored by the U.S. State and Education departments, the week is meant to foster international awareness in an increasingly global society. NGCSU events this week include lectures, discussions, films and a photography contest.

On Wednesday, about 15 students participated in a discussion called "That's not what I saw in the movies," contrasting stereotypes portrayed in media to their experiences in college.

"When people think of my country, they think of ‘The Sound of Music,' and I had never watched the movie," said Julia Gosch, an international student from Austria. "We don't wear those traditional clothes, live in the Alps or yodel all the time."

The students laughed as they talked about the stereotyped American teenagers who concentrate on sex, parties and cliques in movies such as "American Pie" and "Legally Blonde."

"People were telling me that Americans don't believe in anything, but I came here and found that religion is very important," said Agostina Casamento, a student from Argentina. "People also don't discriminate so much into different kinds of groups. Everyone is different and respects each other, which really made me feel comfortable. It's normal life here."

Students from Sweden, Norway, Costa Rica and China also talked about the differences with recycling, public transportation and grocery shopping.

"I had a tomato that lasted two weeks in the fridge, and it still tasted good," Casamento said. "The next time I went shopping, I bought food for a couple of weeks because it stays good longer here."

The students discussed how the simplest task, such as shopping for groceries, can be so different from country to country.

"My entire shopping behavior changed. I was shopping all the time and only bought what I needed for the next few days because I couldn't load my trunk with groceries," said Dlynn Armstrong-Williams, director of NGCSU's Center for Global Engagement, who has lived in several European and Asian countries. "I bought fresh bread from the baker and meat from the butcher. It's a more intimate experience with food."

The international students laughed, recalling the foods they miss most from home - darker breads, richer cheeses and different types of chocolate. Local students smiled in appreciation and knocked down their own stereotypes about East Coast versus West Coast or the "North" and "South" mentalities.

"I think of ‘Sweet Home Alabama,' where it insinuates all southern people are inbred, have a southern drawl and like sweet tea while people from New York talk fast and are mean," said Jeremy Conner, a Georgia native. "They're over-reaching stereotypes, and I see that now the movies probably do that to make the stereotype apparent or to make fun of it."