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Misconceptions about Asian International Students in America

Tran Nguyen | Posted on April 04, 2019

Also, not every international student is Asian.

Also, not every international student is Asian.

Every ethnicity has their own stereotypes and misconceptions. This is my summation of the many asian stereotypes that I have seen studying here at UIC.

Being filthy rich

Being an international student costs a lot of money, but it doesn’t mean we’re all rich. Indeed, there are Asian students that wear designer clothes or luxury items, but most of us are broke college students and still live on our parents’ financial aids. Furthermore, Asian students are always looking for jobs to cover parts of their expenses here. Even though this is pretty cliché, I would say it’s scarier to be broke in a foreign country than your home country. Believe it or not, this is the mindset that most of the asians I know have in this country. Therefore, this proves that the assumption that all of us are rich is completely wrong.


It is not a rare occasion that people randomly run to me and say “Ni Hao”. In my opinion, one of the biggest assumptions about asian students is we are all look alike; more specifically, we’re all Chinese. Saying all asians looks alike for me is like saying oranges and lemons taste the same. I will admit, we can look similar, but assuming all of us from China is a funny stereotype. China has the largest population on Earth, but Vietnam is right below it, as well as Thailand, Japan, India.. and other cool countries. Moral of the story, China is gigantic, but it’s not the only nation in Asia.

“Are you Asian-American or just Asian?”

I get this question a lot from people once they think my English is fluent. Personally, I can feel discrimination from being the comments of being a “full-on Asian” versus “American-Asian” despite I’m aware that the question doesn’t come with bad intentions. On the other hand, the level of your English skill is used to classify you which Asian are you. If you have broken English then you’re just “Asian” and if you’re more fluent in English, you get perceived as more “American-Asian”. Sure it is not wrong but it’s just awkward for us Asian folks to think we’re being classified by our English skills.

Good at Maths

I am living proof that this misconception is a total fault. We might look smart, but that doesn’t mean we’re all good at maths. Similarly, when an Asian student is actually good at Maths, most people just assume he/she is good at Maths because he/she is asian. It is unfair for us, because our nationality doesn’t cover up for the hard work and effort we put in. I would agree Asian parents focus more on such subjects like mathematics more than art but this does not imply we have special genetics that makes us good at math.


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