Etiquette Hell

Etiquette School is in session! => The Ehell Guide to Never Behaving Badly => Topic started by: petal on April 27, 2009, 05:58:39 AM

Title: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: petal on April 27, 2009, 05:58:39 AM
1 - read about the country before you leave to make sure you dont break one
     of their customs
     (especially countries that have particular ways that women
     should be dressed)

2- dont mock the country you visit (or those that live there) because they sound
    different to you

3 - dont moan about how much better they do something in your home country

4 - try not to get offended if someone points out a custom that should be followed
     eg: while in Australia theres no need to tip at restaurants  but in America it is
     rude not to  (in most cases)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: MadMadge43 on April 27, 2009, 06:18:59 AM
5- try to keep you voice down. Loud people speaking in any language is annoying, let alone loud people speaking in a language you don't understand.

6- If you don't speak the language start with pardon my "insert language", do you speak "insert language". Don't just assume they speak your language.

7- It's ok to stand up for yourself when you're being jacked around because you're foreign.

8- Never be ashamed of you country of origin.

Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Mahdoumi on April 27, 2009, 10:55:12 AM
9 - Try to learn greetings, "Do you speak English," and "thank you" in that country's language.  It's a gesture of good will, and in my limited experience, a good attempt at saying, "Good day," will be appreciated.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Asha on April 27, 2009, 11:14:08 AM
10 - niceities (how do you spell that??) like "please, "thank you," "excuse me," and "I'm sorry / Forgive me" are a must, possible even moreso than at home.  This goes a LOOOOONG way towards expressing that any misteps you make are accidental.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: JoanOfArc on April 27, 2009, 12:16:34 PM
11.  A smile goes very far in smoothing over awkwardness. 

12.  If you have food allergies/special dietary requirements, consider getting some of those cards that explain what your requirements are in the local language and giving them to the waiter/waitress when dining.  They will make life easier for everyone. 

Joan 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: TylerBelle on April 27, 2009, 12:17:10 PM
9 - Try to learn greetings, "Do you speak English," and "thank you" in that country's language.  It's a gesture of good will, and in my limited experience, a good attempt at saying, "Good day," will be appreciated.

9a. Though it may be easy to fall into, using (what you think of as) an accent of the country's language while speaking your native tongue, isn't such a good idea. (ie., In a Spanish language country, speaking English with an attempt of a Spanish accent does not make people understand you better. In fact, it's more than likely worse.)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: MadMadge43 on April 27, 2009, 12:45:45 PM
Quote
speaking English with an attempt of a Spanish accent does not make people understand you better. In fact, it's more than likely worse.)

That is not entirely true. I have had to pronounce chocolate, coca cola and aspirin with a Spanish accent to be understood. Oh, and Oil of Olay (who knew it was pronounced Ohligh?) Olay did not go over at all.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Black Delphinium on April 27, 2009, 01:58:03 PM
Leave your desire to convert people to religion X/vegetarianism/carnivorism/whatever at home.(exceptions being made for Missionaries, I know it's your job)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: RooRoo on April 27, 2009, 04:06:46 PM
Be aware that many countries have no understanding of the American habit of laughing when one is embarrassed. It can seem very insulting to them. If you're laughing, and they're swelling with rage, it's time to stop laughing and apologize!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Elle on April 28, 2009, 01:29:23 AM
Learn what gestures are unspeakably rude. (Displaying the bottom of your foot, reaching for food with your left hand, making the "ok" gesture" are all common gestures I can think of that are incredibly rude in various cultures)

Needless to say don't use those gestures  ;D

Be aware that the concept of personal space may be different.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Waltraud on April 28, 2009, 03:24:02 AM
A few Germany-specific suggestions, since it's the only country I can claim to know ;):

Don't ask random people personal questions about the Nazis or the Third Reich.

Behave respectfully while visiting memorials and concentration camp museums. To you, it might be a fascinating experience, or a story from far away and long ago, but many Germans still suffer deeply because of their past.

On a lighter note: Going out to dinner might take much more time than in the US. Waiting half an hour or more for the food to arrive is quite usual. On the other hand there is no need to tip exactly 20% or more. Waitstaff get halfway decent hourly wages. More than I make in any case.

And if you're from an English-speaking country: Many people speak at least a little English and just LOVE to put it into practise. If you just grin and bear it, you'd make many of us very happy. Including me. ;)

Waltraud

Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: mechtilde on April 28, 2009, 04:24:10 AM
Observe the body language of those around you. Personal space etc may vary.

Check out the country's obscene gestures. This may seem like a really stupid thing to suggest on an etiquette forum, but there are many gestures which are entirely innocent in one country and are obscene in another. Showing your open palms in Greece in an attempt to placate the person you are talking to will have the opposite effect. Making the US "OK" gesture in Germany would be the equivalent of flipping the bird. Ordering two of something with the fingers in a v shape and palm facing towards you in the UK would be an insult.

Your own government will often provide information to travellers. Check this before you go.

Read up about the history and culture of the country you intend to visit before you go. It may help you to avoid putting your foot in it.

Try to look at things from the perspective of the country you are visiting. Don't (for example) do what one lady did and refer to Denmark as "Such a cute little country" She may not have meant to be offensive, but she was.

Understand that other countries have different attitudes. Not only are there countries where people will wear more clothing, there are also some where people wear less, and naughty films are on sale in petrol stations.

This is possibly more of a practical than etiquette suggestion but always check out what insurance you will need before you go (in terms of health cover) and if you have a medical condition, try to ensure that you have it written down in the language of the country together with a complete list of any medication you are taking.

Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: JaiJai on April 28, 2009, 08:33:31 AM
Don't presume that just because someone is from a small country, they know everyone there! Sounds obvious I'm sure, but the amount of people who find out I'm British and ask 'Do you know the Queen / Tony Blair / a darling little couple I once met from Scotland'. It might be a fairly small country, but there are almost 61,000,000 people in the UK - suprisingly I don't know them all...
Jai
x
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: GoldenGemini on April 29, 2009, 01:14:00 AM
Don't presume that just because someone is from a small country, they know everyone there! Sounds obvious I'm sure, but the amount of people who find out I'm British and ask 'Do you know the Queen / Tony Blair / a darling little couple I once met from Scotland'. It might be a fairly small country, but there are almost 61,000,000 people in the UK - suprisingly I don't know them all...
Jai
x

POD.  My country is physically as large as the US, but only has 21 million people.  I do not know everyone here. Although I have occasionally been surprised with someone I DO actually know!

Mechtilde - "Ordering two of something with the fingers in a v shape and palm facing towards you in the UK would be an insult"; that is also very rude here in Australia.  I didn't actually know there were places where that wasn't, so learning all the time!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: mechtilde on April 29, 2009, 04:04:25 AM
Making the "V" sign is pretty much only rude in the UK, or commonwealth countries which had a lot of settlers from the UK' who took the gesture with them. It can be quite a trap for visitors from other European countries to the UK, for example.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Mazdoy on April 29, 2009, 05:31:00 AM
Making the "V" sign is pretty much only rude in the UK, or commonwealth countries which had a lot of settlers from the UK' who took the gesture with them. It can be quite a trap for visitors from other European countries to the UK, for example.

Also rude in Ireland and I too assumed it was a worldwide thing.  Good to know!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: RooRoo on April 29, 2009, 02:03:13 PM
I'm confused. I thought the "V" sign was "V for Victory," except when the hippies kidnapped it and made it mean "Peace, man!"

I thought the rude one in the UK was first two fingers together, back of the hand towards the target.

Enlighten me please!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: JaiJai on April 29, 2009, 02:57:01 PM
'V' sign, palm facing away from you is the peace or victory sign. 'V' sign with palm towards you is the equivalent of 'flipping the bird' in the US (although we have that as well).
Jai
x
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: RooRoo on May 01, 2009, 12:54:11 PM
Thank you, Jai.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: cicero on May 05, 2009, 05:04:30 AM
- accept that this city may be one big tourist site, but X number of people live and work here every.single.day. So be considerate of others when using public transportation especially during rush hour, and while we understand how amazing our souk (open-air market) is to you - for us it is our supermarket where we go to buy food for our family. it's crowded - you see it as picturesque, we see it as crowded. Friday afternoon is not the best time to pose your family in front of the spice stand
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: RoseRose on May 07, 2009, 09:50:50 AM
Another thing-  Find out whether bargaining is accepted or not.  It can be acceptable in some places in a country but not others.  If you do want to do so, learning numbers in the language of the country is useful.

And cicero- Someone actually tried that?  Taking pictures in the souk on FRIDAY AFTERNOON?  You'd think the ridiculous crowd would have discouraged them!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Fluffy Cat on May 09, 2009, 08:23:05 PM
Most of mine are U.S. city suggestions (specifically Boston), but most can be useful elsewhere:

Be considerate when asking for directions.  Many city-dwellers (although this applies to a lesser degree elsewhere) are happy to help out polite tourists, but make sure you select someone who does not appear to be in a hurry (particularly during rush hour on business days) and ask nicely.  Say thank you and don't argue with the directions given.  You do not have to follow them if you believe them to be incorrect, but at least say Thank You and then continue on to someone else if you must.

If you are driving, for your own safety as well as others, try to generally follow the local traffic customs (legal ones). When in doubt, do not drive in an unfamiliar city unless you must. 

Please do not remark that the city/area you are visiting would not survive without tourist revenue.  This is rude and often inaccurate.

Be careful.  If you are in an unfamiliar or possibly unsafe area, do not obviously pull out a map or otherwise identify yourself as a tourist.  Pay attention to your surroundings and seek out a policeperson (preferably) or a local (if you select them they are more likely to be safe) to ask for assistance.

 



Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: guihong on June 01, 2009, 08:16:49 AM
Like Waltraud brought up, don't get into political discussions or bring up painful or controversial issues in whatever country you are in (ex: Tiannanmen Square or Tibet in China, the situation with aboriginies in Australia, the Soviet Union in Russia, Hitler in Germany).  Doing this is not only very uncomfortable for whoever you are talking to, but can even get them in trouble with authorites.   The only exception might be if the other person brings it up first. 

I have a friend in Russia who I met on a forum for discussion of the Soviet Union and Russo-American relations, so we have discussed some of that.  Our friendship sprang up from other things in common, though.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: vorbau on June 01, 2009, 05:01:27 PM
My suggestions are based on observations of visitors to my area (Northern VA/DC):

- If you plan on doing a lot of walking, wear comfortable, sturdy, supportive, closed shoes. I know flip-flops and sandals are cool and fashionable, but they are dangerous, especially given the escalators and slippery marble in this area.
- Please dress appropriately for the climate and weather. If you are visiting an area that is hot and humid in the summer, denim is really not a good idea. A hat and your hydrating drink of choice are also good ideas.
- If you visit an attraction that has a security checkpoint, making jokes about terrorism or bombs is a very bad idea and will earn you a great deal of official attention that you will not enjoy.
- If you are visiting a popular destination, area or attraction, realize that you are not the only one interested in visiting that location. Expect crowds and please remember your crowd & queue manners.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: StressedGroom on June 01, 2009, 05:24:34 PM
Remember that your tourist site is someone elses home, religious site, work site, or neighborhood.  I was appalled by some of the behavior I saw at the regious sites in Israel.

Understand the food before you go out to eat; I ordered lasagna in Italy.... in Sardinia; you don't order lasagna in Sardinia. 

Be flexible and willing to experiement some.  Here is a conversation I had, in English, in Turkey:
SG: Can we have a menu.
Waiter: Bef... fish... chiken... lamb...
SG: How is the beef prepared
Waiter: Bef... fish... chiken... lamb...
SG: I'll have the beef.

It was the worst steak I've ever had; if I had known then what I know now, I would have ordered the lamb.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Mahdoumi on June 01, 2009, 07:21:52 PM
Understand the food before you go out to eat; I ordered lasagna in Italy.... in Sardinia; you don't order lasagna in Sardinia. 

Be flexible and willing to experiement some.  Here is a conversation I had, in English, in Turkey:
SG: Can we have a menu.
Waiter: Bef... fish... chiken... lamb...
SG: How is the beef prepared
Waiter: Bef... fish... chiken... lamb...
SG: I'll have the beef.

It was the worst steak I've ever had; if I had known then what I know now, I would have ordered the lamb.

I busted out laughing at your beef anecdote!  My DH, who is otherwise intelligent, ordered two Turkish coffees in Greece.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: zoidberg on June 02, 2009, 06:06:35 AM
I busted out laughing at your beef anecdote!  My DH, who is otherwise intelligent, ordered two Turkish coffees in Greece.

Oh dear. Nearly did the same to my Greek boss once - thankfully he had a sense of humour about the whole Greek/ Turkish animosity thing. Hope your DH didn't receive spit-in Turkish coffee.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: beingkj on June 02, 2009, 06:22:09 AM
...snip...the situation with aboriginies in Australia...snip...

Just a heads up - Aborigines is no longer really used. Aboriginal People or Indigenous Australians are the titles generally used now.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: StressedGroom on June 02, 2009, 11:25:24 AM
I was really surprised at the level of emotion some people still held regarding WWII in Europe; for us it is something that happened somewhere else, and only to our grandparents.  To Europeans it was very immediate, personal and the effects were felt much longer than in the US.  Just because you studied it in history class doesn't mean it's only history to them.

Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Waltraud on June 02, 2009, 11:33:05 AM
I was really surprised at the level of emotion some people still held regarding WWII in Europe; for us it is something that happened somewhere else, and only to our grandparents.  To Europeans it was very immediate, personal and the effects were felt much longer than in the US.  Just because you studied it in history class doesn't mean it's only history to them.

POD! Do you even know how right you are? ;)

My grandmother had to flee from Poland in 1945 and ended up in Bavaria. I never learned how to speak "proper Bavarian" because of it. Therefore, I remember Oma and my family history everytime I say something. Can it get any more "close up and personal"?

Waltraud
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: mechtilde on June 02, 2009, 11:39:27 AM
I was really surprised at the level of emotion some people still held regarding WWII in Europe; for us it is something that happened somewhere else, and only to our grandparents.  To Europeans it was very immediate, personal and the effects were felt much longer than in the US.  Just because you studied it in history class doesn't mean it's only history to them.

POD! Do you even know how right you are? ;)

My grandmother had to flee from Poland in 1945 and ended up in Bavaria. I never learned how to speak "proper Bavarian" because of it. Therefore, I remember Oma and my family history everytime I say something. Can it get any more "close up and personal"?

Waltraud

Agreed- the same thing happened to my FIL, his parents and sister. They ended up in the Pfalz- only because GFIL was offered a job by a man he made friends with when he was a prisoner of war. They had had a small farm in one of the most fertile parts of what was then Germany, they ended up with nothing but what they stood up in and a few photos. They were very lucky- by 1948 they were together and had a place to live and GFIL had a job.

It is a much more immediate thing for Europeans because of the way in which they suffered.  Also it should be remembered the way in which the peoples of South East Asia suffered,  and that it is as immediate to them as it is to Europeans.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: M-theory on June 03, 2009, 01:44:53 AM
I was really surprised at the level of emotion some people still held regarding WWII in Europe; for us it is something that happened somewhere else, and only to our grandparents.  To Europeans it was very immediate, personal and the effects were felt much longer than in the US.  Just because you studied it in history class doesn't mean it's only history to them.



Yeah, and regardless of where you're visiting, or if you're staying at home with a book and your pets, spare us all the jokes about the French surrendering. It's incredibly tiresome - have none of these people ever heard of the French Resistance?
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Mahdoumi on June 03, 2009, 08:41:13 AM
I was really surprised at the level of emotion some people still held regarding WWII in Europe; for us it is something that happened somewhere else, and only to our grandparents.  To Europeans it was very immediate, personal and the effects were felt much longer than in the US.  Just because you studied it in history class doesn't mean it's only history to them.

Well said!  May I add that expressing any political opinion would be a terrible mistake during visits to the Holy Lands and (especially) the Near East.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Traveler on June 04, 2009, 02:36:55 AM
Even more so than on a daily basis, during travel, be very conscious of when you make assumptions.  I've encountered people (mostly Americans, embarrassingly for me as an American) be very rude to locals in several countries because they incorrectly assumed that...
 - they could get a rental car at an airport without a reservation
 - they could get in and out of a restaurant in 45 minutes
 - all attractions are open every day of the week
 - if 3 people ordered appetizers (as their main meal), and 1 person ordered an entree, everyone would be served together. [This conversation actually resulted in the people trying to get the waitress fired, and (bless their hearts) using the phrase "this would never happen in the states" while in a foreign country. Sigh.]
I cringe when people use anger and vulgarity towards locals because of their own mistakes.

so, based off of that, my etiquette advice is related to both planning ahead and adapting. Be prepared for things to go "wrong," and do not let them ruin your vacation. Some of the best travel experiences we have had grew out of something not going as planned.

Echoing the advice of a PP to learn how to say hello and thank you (at a minimum). Don't be afraid to ask local people to help you with pronunciation. Don't be afraid to ask them to repeat it. :-) [you don't want to know how long it took me to pronounce "Ευχαριστώ".] 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: mechtilde on June 04, 2009, 04:14:37 AM
I was really surprised at the level of emotion some people still held regarding WWII in Europe; for us it is something that happened somewhere else, and only to our grandparents.  To Europeans it was very immediate, personal and the effects were felt much longer than in the US.  Just because you studied it in history class doesn't mean it's only history to them.

Well said!  May I add that expressing any political opinion would be a terrible mistake during visits to the Holy Lands and (especially) the Near East.

Or indeed anywhere with a contentious history or political situation.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: magdalena on June 04, 2009, 04:39:21 AM
All the advice is great!

I've been laughing and nodding all the way through this thread  :)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Mahdoumi on June 04, 2009, 08:28:43 AM

Well said!  May I add that expressing any political opinion would be a terrible mistake during visits to the Holy Lands and (especially) the Near East.

Or indeed anywhere with a contentious history or political situation.

Which would be everywhere and which would be why etiquette discourages politcal and religious discussions in polite company!  :)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: L.A. Lady on June 12, 2009, 02:13:26 PM
This tip was inspired by the food thread in the Coffee Break.
 
-Please do a little research into the cuisine of the country you are traveling to, if you have any dietary restrictions.

For instance, if you keep Kosher it might be very hard to find meals where the idea of keeping Kosher is an unknown concept. This happened to a friend in China, where he was forced to eat mostly vegetarian meals.
You might be forced to compromise on your beliefs/diet preferences.

-Complaining about the food is not nice. If you have picky tastes, please quietly try to find food that would suit you. Claiming that India is stupid because you "don't like curries" will annoy people.

-Be aware that some countries use different parts of meat than what you may find "normal." This is not weird or disgusting. If the idea of sheep brains is repugnant, don't eat it. Making loud "ewww! How can you eat that!" comments is uncalled for.

- If Panda Express is your idea of great Chinese food, great! But please don't loudly complain when you can't find orange chicken in Beijing. 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: misha412 on June 16, 2009, 11:11:03 AM
Please do not ask a question of a local in their language, then turn around and make a comment/laugh at that person in your native tongue. You might get a nasty surprise that the local speaks enough of your language to understand the gist of the insult. Americans are very bad about this (and I cringe at this because I am an American). But I have seen non-Americans coming into the US do the same thing.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Brandydan on June 16, 2009, 03:23:31 PM
I have to add onto Misha's observations. We Americans have a (somewhat) 'cranky' reputation when we travel abroad.

My first overseas trip was to the Canary Islands with a college roommate. For weeks, I brushed up on my Spanish, French and Italian, since we were traveling there during the New Year's holiday, and we understood that many Europeans own vacation homes there and we wanted to experience our holiday as much as possible. We NEVER had bad service as very patient waitstaff would appreciate our efforts to immerse ourselves into the local customs. Yet at one time (Okay, this confession will likely put me in a EHell room of doom), an American (or they could have been Canadian) couple threw a major hissy fit when their non-English-speaking waiter was slow to understand their order. I walked over to the couple, asked them if they were aware that as a part of Spain, their waiter was a Spaniard and that his mother tongue was most likely Spanish and that they better leave a decent tip...

On our wedding/honeymoon to Scotland, DH and I road-tripped through the center of the country, ate haggis and stout and haddock and chips and the best coffee we had ever tasted, and were treated well by many locals since we remembered that we were visitors in their country and behaved as such.

When you visit another country, you are becoming the ultimate houseguest.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: MadMadge43 on June 19, 2009, 05:07:51 PM
You know, it's funny how many bad American stories are on this thread. I've been in Europe over 6 months now and see more rude behavior from people of other countries than Americans. (Do not get me started on Brits in Barcelona- or Italians in Switzerland). I wonder if it's because we can actually understand them, so we know what's going on, or that we're just more aware of it because of the reputation? 

Funny story. We were drinking with a couple of Poles. They were in their 20's, one was this huge guy that looked like a New Yorker. His accent was perfect American. He started being really loud and obnoxious. I told him to be quiet because people assumed he was American. He laughed and said "I know isn't it great, nobody can blame Poland for me!".

I admit I had to laugh too, he was so proud of himself.

By the way, I have never heard of one country, that everyone likes. They all complain about each other left and right, so we're just being treated like everyone else.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Vaire on June 30, 2009, 03:40:04 PM
If you're going to the States, there are four things you should never do:
1) forget to tip at least 15% at bars, restaurants etc.
2) discuss race, skin colour, or gender issues
3) discuss religion
4) discuss political views. These hold true for dinner as well - if friends ask you for dinner, do not start a conversation on these subjects. They'll most likely think you rude.

If you're going to the Netherlands:
Yes, the drugs, euthanasia and abortion laws are probably tolerant, compared to yours. Most of us are very happy they are, and most of us do not appreciate derisive comments or lame jokes about these laws. For example (and I've heard all of these...  :o):
1) The Dutch are not on drugs all the time.
2) You cannot come to the Netherlands to get your mother in law killed.
3) Our laws do not mean that anything goes when it comes to ethics.
4) We aren't actually backwards at all. We have electricity, fridges, broadband internet and iPhones just like you do.
So... if you do not agree with our laws, please just do not discuss these subjects. Just enjoy the cheese, windmills, paintings and tulips; and I'll be happy to give you a tour ;)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: MadMadge43 on June 30, 2009, 03:46:40 PM
I have to say the 1st #4, doesn't hold much weight with me.

I can't get through one night with my European friends without discussing American politics, and I'm not the one bringing them up.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Redblues on August 26, 2009, 02:02:50 PM
"And if you're from an English-speaking country: Many people speak at least a little English and just LOVE to put it into practise. If you just grin and bear it, you'd make many of us very happy. Including me. ;)"

If you overhear 2 people speaking together in English, or if an English-speaking tourist attempts to speak to you in the language of your country, do not respond in English.  If you do, and the person continues to speak in German, French, or whatever the local language is, accept that they did NOT visit your country to give free English lessons to strangers, and may very well be there to learn YOUR language.  Please respect this.  I am an American who used to live in Germany.  It was amazing how many complete strangers expected me to help them practise their English, even when I spoke only German in response.  Eventually, I learned not to say anything except"excuse me?' (in German) over and over, until they realized I was not their English instructor and it was German or nothing if they expected to converse with me.  This should not be necessary.
 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Redblues on August 26, 2009, 02:21:42 PM
Try to respect the way the local people dress or act in public.  In Greece, where women never wore shorts in public, and even men did so very rarely, I would routinely see college students from the US and Canada wearing T-shirts and tiny gym shorts with "Juicy" written across the backside in huge letters  while visiting museums, restaurants, and churches. :o  This makes me cringe it's so rude.  It appalls me that people do this in the US, nevermind while traveling.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Redblues on August 26, 2009, 02:37:01 PM
I think the one thing that all people everywhere on earth have in common is that everyone hates tourists.  ;)

However, this does not mean that one is entitled to begin a conversation with a tourist with an insult directed at people from that country.  I do not need to hear that most Americans are slobs, wear too much make-up or have terrible taste in clothing or food. (Who eats at all those local McDonalds, anyway?  No country has THAT many American tourists!)  Insulting people is hostile, not a way to begin a pleasant conversation with a visitor from another country.  Americans aren't THAT friendly!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Yarnie on August 26, 2009, 04:44:24 PM
Be open minded, and be slow to take offense.  Also, go with the flow.  I went to India, and once I sort of just succumbed to the pace, I was really happy.  Sure, I had no idea when my plane would take off, but it did eventually, and I was on it, so all was well. :)

Also, if you are in a poorer country, don't take offense that you pay more than the locals.  Sure, that cab ride cost you 100 rupees when the locals get it for 60, but you are arguing over a quarter.  And that quarter is a heck of a lot more valuable to them than it is to you.

(That's not to say to not bargain - but recognize that you may end up paying more, and that's okay.)

Find out what "friendly" means in the country you are going to.  I found that my lack of eye contact, dislike of being touched, and shy smiles were actually seen positively in India.  People seemed to respond to me better than to the typical American friendliness. 

Plus, if you appear to be trying, and are open minded, people will forgive your mistakes.  And I found in India, they love talking about themselves, and hearing about you - I learned so much, it was amazing.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: AuntyEm on August 27, 2009, 03:51:18 AM
For now I live in Denmark and here are a few I notice:

If you don't speak the language, start off with "Hello--May I speak English?"  This give them a chance to adjust or find someone else who feels more comfortable speaking with you.  Most of the time, people are happy to show off their bilingual abilities but occasionally I find they might be shy or not speak English well.

Don't mix two different languages. It is confusing to hear english with foreign words sprinkled in unless the foreign word is so familiar in english that everyone would understand it.

Be pleasant but don't gush.  I have had many Danes here comment to me that Americans are so enthusiastic and complimentary that they don't think it is genuine.  :P (Who knew you could be too nice and polite?)

I agree with not speaking too loudly in public.  We recently had a giant cruise ship dock overnight in our little harbor and of course many foreigners walking through the town for the day.  Some people really stuck out with their loud talking and assumption that the local people don't understand what they are saying--though it was sure nice for me to hear voices from home!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: iridaceae on August 27, 2009, 06:44:01 AM
If you are bound and determined to find fault with everything in country X because "it's not HomeCountry", do everyone a favor and just don't travel.

Do not assume the people of the country are going to go to bed with you at the drop of a hat because of some movie you saw on the adult channel.







Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Tizzy on September 03, 2009, 09:42:07 AM
From an American in DC...

If instructions are given over an intercom on public transit, listen. If you do not understand them then pay attention to what other people are doing. You will get barked at if you block the whole escalator during rush hour. Yes, we may all be moving faster than you are used but that also means we get very impatient when you block the way. This goes for sidewalks as well. Make sure you understand the rules for pedestrians. In some US cities walking out into the street against the light will tgt you run over!

Do not ask me if I am embarrassed about the state of X, Y, or Z in my country. Do not ask me where I was on September 11th. Do not ask me if I can read a map. Do not tell me that you are surprised how clean/polite/safe the city is.

And a giant POD to everyone who said that while it's a major tourist site it's also people's homes.

I don't think any one nationality is the worst. It's school groups, from any country that I can't handle.  ;D
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Switcher on November 16, 2009, 02:56:11 PM
Something I noticed in Germany is that they have a very different sense of humor than Americans do. This is probably true for other countries. Don't automatically assume that sarcasm is understood or popular. This goes for all kinds of humor- dirty jokes may be all the rage where you come from, but in areas that are largely conservative, this is a bad idea. Try to get a feel for local humor before you try to tell jokes.

Expect questions about your country, and try to study up a little. A lot of people will try to learn about their visitors, so if you have no idea about your countries government, they will be disappointed.

Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Waltraud on November 17, 2009, 01:44:26 AM
Something I noticed in Germany is that they have a very different sense of humor than Americans do. This is probably true for other countries.

Really? Please elaborate. ;) I'm deadly curious about slight cultural differences and "outsiders'" views of Germany because I often feel it's a bit of a complicated culture. PM me if you don't want to clog up the thread.... BTW I'm glad that you grant us a sense of humour after all.  ;D

I think that attempts at humour in a different language or culture are most likely to go wrong. (Not to say that you messed up in some way! Just my experience...)

Language mistakes are mostly no problem; many people do their best to understand you or dig up their rusty English.  ;)

Cultural mistakes are much easier to make and much more difficult to correct. Even within the great big "Western Culture" most e-hellions belong to. I, for one, have never written a thank-you note in my life. And "showers" of any non-wet kind would be very much frowned upon where I live.

A German example might be: Never cross a red light. Not even at three o'clock in the morning somewhere in the sticks between Wolpertinger Hill and Bieslinger Forest. We hate that.  ;)

Waltraud
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: magdalena on November 17, 2009, 02:20:01 AM
Mistress Ego,
I'm just as curious as Waltraud is.
I guess I've been here too long, because I keep having a hard time figuring out what's "different" in Germany. It's all "normal" to me by now.
(there, I said it, don't tell my hubby though, I still want to tease him about being "so German" whatever that might mean)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Nurvingiel on November 17, 2009, 02:24:22 AM
I love travelling. There are a lot of good tips in this thread. I would only add, don't compound rudeness with irony. E.g. don't go to India and complain that the tea is not like back home. ;)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: mechtilde on November 17, 2009, 02:30:36 AM
Well speaking as an Englishwoman-I thing that Germans have a much drier sense of humour than us. Quite often we won't "get it" when someone makes a joke with a completely straight face and are nervous about laughing in case we are thought to be rude.

Also I thing that Germans go in for Schdenfreude a little more than the English, but don't go in for the kind of humour which makes you squirm.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Fluffy Cat on November 17, 2009, 02:53:43 AM
Something I noticed in Germany is that they have a very different sense of humor than Americans do. This is probably true for other countries. Don't automatically assume that sarcasm is understood or popular. This goes for all kinds of humor- dirty jokes may be all the rage where you come from, but in areas that are largely conservative, this is a bad idea. Try to get a feel for local humor before you try to tell jokes.


I wouldn't exactly say that sarcasm and dirty jokes are considered popular in America. In fact, I'd say they are generally frowned upon.  I'm pretty sure both of those are an acquired taste (if at all) regardless of the country/language.  And it pains me to say so being an expert at both (in front of a receptive audience only).
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Fluffy Cat on November 17, 2009, 02:56:48 AM
Please, please, please do not quack at the "quaint locals" during your Duck Tour.  Please.  I know its not your fault, and the tour guide is egging you on to do it, but please just don't.  Thank you.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Snowy Owl on November 17, 2009, 02:17:13 PM
Something I noticed in Germany is that they have a very different sense of humor than Americans do. This is probably true for other countries.

Really? Please elaborate. ;) I'm deadly curious about slight cultural differences and "outsiders'" views of Germany because I often feel it's a bit of a complicated culture. PM me if you don't want to clog up the thread.... BTW I'm glad that you grant us a sense of humour after all.  ;D.

As an English person who's lived in Germany I think you (collectively) definitely have a sense of humour, it's just subtle.  A lot of the humour I noticed was based around an understanding of the German language, word games etc as well as regional stereotypes (one friend told a lot of jokes about Bavarians).  It's not always easy to translate or explain. I think it can be quite bawdy also, although that could just be the company I kept.  
I think the main difference is that social and s*xual taboos in Germany are different from those in England so things that are considered to be funny can vary.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Switcher on November 18, 2009, 08:57:25 AM
Haha, I didn't mean to imply that dirty jokes were really popular in the entire U.S. It was more of a blanket statement for every country. IE- If the country/area you come from loves dirty jokes, you might want to wait a bit before introducing your new found friends to it.

I know that my friends and I from California were big on sarcasm. First time I tried it in Germany (with people who understood English very well), it just hit dead. But they loved puns! My friends from school, my host families, and the teachers that made jokes all went crazy for puns.

And the way I said Spaetzle. I couldn't get the H in there so it was Spet-Zeel instead of Spchet-Chel.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Auntie Mame on November 24, 2009, 01:43:34 PM
Read up about the history and culture of the country you intend to visit before you go. It may help you to avoid putting your foot in it.

Oooo, I have a story about this!

When I was visiting Belfast I witnessed these guys having a full blown hissy fit because they couldn't check their luggage at the train station.  In Belfast.  They kept demanding to know why, and finally the very frustrated employee said "Because people put bombs in them".   These guys kept arguing the point, and demanding to check their luggage.  A quick peak at Ireland's very recent history would would make it obvious as to why no one checks luggage, anywhere.  Especially, Belfast!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: NOVA Lady on November 24, 2009, 03:58:29 PM
America is also a country and has its own culture and customs, Americans are not "wrong" because they do things different and they have as much of a right to in the USA as others have in their own home countries. So, for people visiting the US from another country...

DO:

- Tip We do that here. Any book that guides behavior in the US will tell you that. It really doesn't matter what is done where you are from or what you think about the custome. It is done here, please do so.

- Stand on the right and walk on the left - escalators, moving sidewalks, etc.

- Get out of the path of others when taking pictures.

- Learn at least a few phrases in English.


DO NOT

- Haggle, usually in a store this is not done (assuming you are not car shopping)

- Make negative comments about our ___ system. If things are so much better where you are from please just stay there.

- Make disparaging comments about Americans. That is incredibly rude.


:)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: marcel on November 24, 2009, 10:29:39 PM
Read up about the history and culture of the country you intend to visit before you go. It may help you to avoid putting your foot in it.

Oooo, I have a story about this!

When I was visiting Belfast I witnessed these guys having a full blown hissy fit because they couldn't check their luggage at the train station.  In Belfast.  They kept demanding to know why, and finally the very frustrated employee said "Because people put bombs in them".   These guys kept arguing the point, and demanding to check their luggage.  A quick peak at Ireland's very recent history would would make it obvious as to why no one checks luggage, anywhere.  Especially, Belfast!
Even if there is no bomb threat in the country you visit. I have never traveled on a train with checked bagage yet, it is not common to do this in many countries.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: matf on November 25, 2009, 08:14:52 AM
Even if there is no bomb threat in the country you visit. I have never traveled on a train with checked bagage yet, it is not common to do this in many countries.

Just a random point to share. You may not realize this, but you can, in fact, check baggage on Amtrak trains in the US. DH and I went last night to check his bicycle in for a Thanksgiving trip. You need to pack it in a bike box -- which involves taking off the pedals and turning the handlebars completely sideways. And you need to pack it in full view of the Amtrak employees so that they can be sure that there's nothing in the box that shouldn't be there.

I've travelled on the trains in the US for years, and this is the first time I ever did anything like that.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Fluffy Cat on November 25, 2009, 11:27:15 PM
- Learn at least a few phrases in English.

I suggest "please" "thank you" and "excuse me"
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Tizzy on November 26, 2009, 07:50:28 AM
Even if there is no bomb threat in the country you visit. I have never traveled on a train with checked bagage yet, it is not common to do this in many countries.

Just a random point to share. You may not realize this, but you can, in fact, check baggage on Amtrak trains in the US. DH and I went last night to check his bicycle in for a Thanksgiving trip. You need to pack it in a bike box -- which involves taking off the pedals and turning the handlebars completely sideways. And you need to pack it in full view of the Amtrak employees so that they can be sure that there's nothing in the box that shouldn't be there.

I've travelled on the trains in the US for years, and this is the first time I ever did anything like that.

I learned this yesterday! I've traveled on Amtrak for years and I had no idea there was a baggage car.

I second learning "please," thank you" and "excuse me" or "sorry" I think this probably a good recommendation no matter where you are going.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: magdalena on November 26, 2009, 08:00:35 AM
I think hello, goodbye, sorry/excuse me, please and thankyou are essential no matter where you're going. And it doesn't matter if you don't say them perfectly.

What else? Don't regale everyone you meet with your story (ie. I come from such and such country and I'm here visiting so and so), I had one visitor do this to each and every tour guide/museum worker/clerk and it was very frustrating for them as they tried to stay friendly while keeping things flowing.

Don't make "cute" or "funny" comments about the people around you. The German lady next to you will probably not appreciate being called a "schönes Fräulein" (extra points if you manage to mix it up so she cannot understand you), nor will the Finn at the table next to yours want to hear you repeat "hölkynkölkyn" (one traditional variant of cheers) to them over and over again. You might mean it totally well, but people have mostly heard it all already. (Disclaimer: I'm just using those two nationalities as examples, as that's where I've lived the longest, most nationalities have enough boors of their own who will do the same to others)

Most important of all: enjoy yourself, keep an open mind and learn!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Sophia on November 26, 2009, 08:00:59 AM
I read through the thread and I am shocked no one mentioned the "Culture Shock" series of books.  The entire book is explaining one culture to another culture. They are great.  

I learned my favorite joke about Germany in that book, "What's the problem with German food?"  "In a few days, you are hungry again."  I love the food, but that cracks me up.  I learned things from that book I hadn't noticed in weeks of visiting with my observation in high gear.  
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: magdalena on November 26, 2009, 08:17:44 AM
If you overhear 2 people speaking together in English, or if an English-speaking tourist attempts to speak to you in the language of your country, do not respond in English.  If you do, and the person continues to speak in German, French, or whatever the local language is, accept that they did NOT visit your country to give free English lessons to strangers, and may very well be there to learn YOUR language.  Please respect this.  I am an American who used to live in Germany.  It was amazing how many complete strangers expected me to help them practise their English, even when I spoke only German in response.  Eventually, I learned not to say anything except"excuse me?' (in German) over and over, until they realized I was not their English instructor and it was German or nothing if they expected to converse with me.  This should not be necessary.

This made me think about my own experiences.
This happens everywhere, but mostly is only meant nicely, people want to be helpful way more than they want to practice their language. Many people automatically try to switch to the language they think the other person is more comfortable with. It's happened a lot to both me and my DH (to me in Germany and to him in Finland and Canada), we both either persist in our efforts or switch to the language the other person is trying to speak. It can be very frustrating, like when someone insists on speaking English with me (not my native language) instead of German, I agree and we then have to switch back quickly because they cannot understand me unless I make an effort to use "simple" words and structures. This happened even once I was more fluent in German than they were in English, and most of them really just stated: "We can switch to English if youd like and then kept speaking English untill we had trouble understanding each other in English and I switched back to German) I also figure that since I want to learn different languages and many people are helping me with it, I can speak a bit of my own or my other strong languages with them at times. Moreover, I still like to think that they're just doing it to be nice, not to use me.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Sophia on November 26, 2009, 08:25:32 AM
I am usually so relieved when someone responds to my use of the native language in English.  I remember working really really hard on my German accent.  It's painfully hard for me because I have no ear.  I was getting pretty good, and then one day I got a torrent of German in response.  I felt like such a fraud, my decent local accent gave that guy the idea that I might actually understand what he said.   I then switched back to my pathetic accent which caused people to pause after every time I said something, but at least communication continued. 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: magdalena on November 26, 2009, 08:36:01 AM
I am usually so relieved when someone responds to my use of the native language in English.  I remember working really really hard on my German accent.  It's painfully hard for me because I have no ear.  I was getting pretty good, and then one day I got a torrent of German in response.  I felt like such a fraud, my decent local accent gave that guy the idea that I might actually understand what he said.   I then switched back to my pathetic accent which caused people to pause after every time I said something, but at least communication continued. 
:)

I know the feeling.
I'm pretty much the opposite, no matter how well I know the language, I get the accent down pretty fast. So, I was in that spot at a time when my German was all but good: I'd say "Guten Tag" and get a monologue in German as a response before I could add: "Entschuldigen Sie, aber mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut" (excuse me, my German is not all that good) which would then get the people proclaim that it was quite perfect and keep speaking German. There were times when I considered using a fake bad accent just to be able to understand people. Or stick to English or start speaking Finnish with them....
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Nurvingiel on November 26, 2009, 12:17:20 PM
Read up about the history and culture of the country you intend to visit before you go. It may help you to avoid putting your foot in it.
Oooo, I have a story about this!

When I was visiting Belfast I witnessed these guys having a full blown hissy fit because they couldn't check their luggage at the train station.  In Belfast.  They kept demanding to know why, and finally the very frustrated employee said "Because people put bombs in them".   These guys kept arguing the point, and demanding to check their luggage.  A quick peak at Ireland's very recent history would would make it obvious as to why no one checks luggage, anywhere.  Especially, Belfast!
The part that flabbers my gast is that he kept being a pill about this after he was told why he couldn't check his luggage. People put bombs in luggage, that should be the end of it right? Bombs. In. The. Luggage.  Bombs. Seriously.

If you overhear 2 people speaking together in English, or if an English-speaking tourist attempts to speak to you in the language of your country, do not respond in English.  If you do, and the person continues to speak in German, French, or whatever the local language is, accept that they did NOT visit your country to give free English lessons to strangers, and may very well be there to learn YOUR language.  Please respect this.  I am an American who used to live in Germany.  It was amazing how many complete strangers expected me to help them practise their English, even when I spoke only German in response.  Eventually, I learned not to say anything except"excuse me?' (in German) over and over, until they realized I was not their English instructor and it was German or nothing if they expected to converse with me.  This should not be necessary.
Redblues, the same thing happened to my friend who lived in Japan for a year. She studied Japanese in high school and university, but didn't have a lot of chance to really practice. She would have liked to chat with some locals in Japanese. She was able to do this sometimes, but not as much as she would have liked.

Meanwhile, people who were studying English thought, great, someone I can practice with, but they didn't want to help her practice Japanese. She wouldn't have minded helping people (her job was to teach English after all) but it was just so imbalanced.

My brother went to Germany when he was in high school. If someone, upon hearing is obviously non-German accent, answered him in English, he would say, "I'm sorry, I'm from the French part of Canada" in German. He actually did speak French, so he could have carried on in French. His German wasn't so bad that conversing with him would be painful, he just had an accent.

I went to Sweden and this is the best country IMO for people who are willing to let you mangle speak their mother tongue. I studied Swedish while I was there and by the end of the exchange, I could actually have a conversation with someone (especially if it was about food). People were so nice helping me practice, even total strangers (e.g. I bought a bicycle entirely in Swedish). Also my Swedish friends taught me all the local cool slang.

By the end of my exchange, people who didn't know me thought that I was actually Swedish. Of course, they thought I was from Skåne (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scania), a province (county?) who's accent is so different from the province where I lived it is like unto another language.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Shoo on November 26, 2009, 12:25:11 PM
America is also a country and has its own culture and customs, Americans are not "wrong" because they do things different and they have as much of a right to in the USA as others have in their own home countries. So, for people visiting the US from another country...

DO:

- Tip We do that here. Any book that guides behavior in the US will tell you that. It really doesn't matter what is done where you are from or what you think about the custome. It is done here, please do so.

- Stand on the right and walk on the left - escalators, moving sidewalks, etc.

- Get out of the path of others when taking pictures.

- Learn at least a few phrases in English.


DO NOT

- Haggle, usually in a store this is not done (assuming you are not car shopping)

- Make negative comments about our ___ system. If things are so much better where you are from please just stay there.

- Make disparaging comments about Americans. That is incredibly rude.


:)

Thank you, Marina.  So often in threads like this, it feels so incredibly one sided.  Americans are told all the time how rude they are when they travel, what to do, what not to do.  Yet we, Americans, are also told all the time that we have to be tolerant of visitors to our country, we can't expect them to know anything about OUR culture, speak our language, etc.

This double standard makes me crazy. 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Nurvingiel on November 26, 2009, 12:28:26 PM
To be fair, no one said that here. Why would we say that? (Not just because 90% of the people on this board are Americans.)

There is a rather unfair stereotype of "American travellers = rude". I think it needs to be dispensed with right away. All the Americans I've met while travelling were super friendly, pleasant and polite.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Snowy Owl on November 26, 2009, 02:31:18 PM
To be fair, no one said that here. Why would we say that? (Not just because 90% of the people on this board are Americans.)

There is a rather unfair stereotype of "American travellers = rude". I think it needs to be dispensed with right away. All the Americans I've met while travelling were super friendly, pleasant and polite.

Definitely!  When I worked as a tour guide in a castle in northern England we all wanted the American visitors because they were so interested in everything and tipped so well. 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Switcher on November 26, 2009, 09:21:23 PM
If you have had experience with a person from a given country, don't automatically assume that everyone else acts similarly. If the Brazilian you met was crazy and loved to party, do not assume that the entire country parties all the time and is crazy based on that.

**This isn't really an etiquette thing, but it's worth mentioning. Learn how to ask where the bathroom is. You never realize how important that is until you really need to pee and you have to resort to sign language.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: marcel on November 26, 2009, 11:25:46 PM
If you have had experience with a person from a given country, don't automatically assume that everyone else acts similarly. If the Brazilian you met was crazy and loved to party, do not assume that the entire country parties all the time and is crazy based on that.

**This isn't really an etiquette thing, but it's worth mentioning. Learn how to ask where the bathroom is. You never realize how important that is until you really need to pee and you have to resort to sign language.

In my experience the word toilet (with slight language variations) works in most countries
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: JonGirl on November 27, 2009, 12:36:08 AM
I am usually so relieved when someone responds to my use of the native language in English.  I remember working really really hard on my German accent.  It's painfully hard for me because I have no ear.  I was getting pretty good, and then one day I got a torrent of German in response.  I felt like such a fraud, my decent local accent gave that guy the idea that I might actually understand what he said.   I then switched back to my pathetic accent which caused people to pause after every time I said something, but at least communication continued. 

Should I take that literally?!  :o  ;D
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Nurvingiel on November 27, 2009, 02:11:14 AM
If you have had experience with a person from a given country, don't automatically assume that everyone else acts similarly. If the Brazilian you met was crazy and loved to party, do not assume that the entire country parties all the time and is crazy based on that.

**This isn't really an etiquette thing, but it's worth mentioning. Learn how to ask where the bathroom is. You never realize how important that is until you really need to pee and you have to resort to sign language.

In my experience the word toilet (with slight language variations) works in most countries
The word "toilet" can also get you through crowded Bolivian airports.

"Excusado" is a false friend in Spanish. My Mom and her friend, while travelling in South America back in the day, thought it meant "excuse me" but it really means "toilet". So they politely moved through the crowd in a huge airport saying "excusado, excusado...". People moved aside pretty quickly, how polite! ;D

I do think that the pee dance is pretty universal though.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: kherbert05 on November 27, 2009, 11:49:58 AM
If chaperoning a group of students - don't yell and scream at them when they refuse to enter a church because the uniforms you required them to wear are inappropriate (shorts and shirts with spaghetti straps).

When you and the others are told you can't enter don't go back to the bus and yell at the students who told you the clothing was inappropriate. They did not "get to" the guard to refuse you entry.

*He was banned from chaperoning the following fall after he called me an idol worshiping (bad word for Catholics) - and I threatened the school with Father Erik calling then again. Not to mention the Freedom of Religion problems that came with them forcing us to pray the Lords Prayer on the school bus going to the games - in 1984 - 85
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: L.A. Lady on November 27, 2009, 04:10:23 PM
If chaperoning a group of students - don't yell and scream at them when they refuse to enter a church because the uniforms you required them to wear are inappropriate (shorts and shirts with spaghetti straps).

When you and the others are told you can't enter don't go back to the bus and yell at the students who told you the clothing was inappropriate. They did not "get to" the guard to refuse you entry.

*He was banned from chaperoning the following fall after he called me an idol worshiping (bad word for Catholics) - and I threatened the school with Father Erik calling then again. Not to mention the Freedom of Religion problems that came with them forcing us to pray the Lords Prayer on the school bus going to the games - in 1984 - 85

Is this the same chaperone I had when I went to Italy when I was in 10th grade?
Oh, wait no. This chaperone was a woman, who couldn't figure out why she couldn't wear baggy sweat pants to the Vatican. ::) She probably would have worn shorts, but it was a cold day.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Auntie Mame on November 27, 2009, 04:44:06 PM
Read up about the history and culture of the country you intend to visit before you go. It may help you to avoid putting your foot in it.
Oooo, I have a story about this!

When I was visiting Belfast I witnessed these guys having a full blown hissy fit because they couldn't check their luggage at the train station.  In Belfast.  They kept demanding to know why, and finally the very frustrated employee said "Because people put bombs in them".   These guys kept arguing the point, and demanding to check their luggage.  A quick peak at Ireland's very recent history would would make it obvious as to why no one checks luggage, anywhere.  Especially, Belfast!
The part that flabbers my gast is that he kept being a pill about this after he was told why he couldn't check his luggage. People put bombs in luggage, that should be the end of it right? Bombs. In. The. Luggage.  Bombs. Seriously.

I would have given them a pass if they had asked once and accepted the answer, but they kept trying to argue the point, even after they were told "bombs in luggage".  They figured since they weren't Irish they should be able to check their luggage.  No. Just, no.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: kherbert05 on November 27, 2009, 05:46:00 PM
If chaperoning a group of students - don't yell and scream at them when they refuse to enter a church because the uniforms you required them to wear are inappropriate (shorts and shirts with spaghetti straps).

When you and the others are told you can't enter don't go back to the bus and yell at the students who told you the clothing was inappropriate. They did not "get to" the guard to refuse you entry.

*He was banned from chaperoning the following fall after he called me an idol worshiping (bad word for Catholics) - and I threatened the school with Father Erik calling then again. Not to mention the Freedom of Religion problems that came with them forcing us to pray the Lords Prayer on the school bus going to the games - in 1984 - 85

Is this the same chaperone I had when I went to Italy when I was in 10th grade?
Oh, wait no. This chaperone was a woman, who couldn't figure out why she couldn't wear baggy sweat pants to the Vatican. ::) She probably would have worn shorts, but it was a cold day.

This guy was a walking embarrassment. We were in Greece over Holy Week.  Holy Saturday we were providing the entertainment for the cruise ship. We were doing a jazz routine when this other music came over the sound system. The three other Catholics performing with me froze just like I did. I couldn't understand a word - but I knew the sound - it was Mass.

There is a law that says if a business can't shut down on a holy day they had to provide Mass. So they literally piped Mass through the public areas at Midnight and a priest came through and offered communion.

Mr. Make the Public school kids say his version of the Lord's Prayer on the bus - pitched a huge fit. He called the Greek Orthodox - Pagans  and was screaming at the Captain about how this was a violation of the 1st Admin.


The Captain was a short guy but somehow gave the impression he was towering over this idiot - when he told the bigot that the Constitution stopped at he US border, that he was in Greece and subject to Greek Laws, and that he should do the US a favor and go home and stay there because he is the type of terrible tourist people remember when they say they hate Americans.

The bigot scurried away with his tail between his legs - just as they set off fire works across the harbor. My friends and I about fell down laughing. Honestly I think that is what gave me the courage to get in his face the next fall when he yelled at a couple of other Catholics and I for saying the Catholic version of the Lord's Prayer. I wish I had had more courage and just refused to pray on the bus from Day 1. I knew it was wrong but caved to the pressure from adults.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: hellgirl on November 27, 2009, 07:37:48 PM
There is a rather unfair stereotype of "American travellers = rude". I think it needs to be dispensed with right away. All the Americans I've met while travelling were super friendly, pleasant and polite.

I have to wonder if it's just because we see more tourists from the US than any other place, so are exposed to more bad ones through basic probabilities. I mean, I may run into 25 tourists from the states while wandering round the coliseum, and 3 of them may be rude/loud/annoying. But I'll only run into 2 people from Norway. Given the population of various countries and if they had a set percentage of travellers coming out of them (although I'm guessing they don't) I'm just more likely to run into more annoying Americans than annoying Norwegians, even if, say, 10% * of the population of those countries are naturally rude and annoying people   ;D

* numbers totally made up

Add to that some general cultural differences, what with some cultures being more reserved than others in general, and it might be harder to spot, say, a rude Finn for example, because they may be less likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger that exposes that rudeness to the world.

Just my 2c from my observations travelling around, and meeting rude and lovely people alike from many countries  ;)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: kareng57 on November 27, 2009, 08:10:32 PM
If you overhear 2 people speaking together in English, or if an English-speaking tourist attempts to speak to you in the language of your country, do not respond in English.  If you do, and the person continues to speak in German, French, or whatever the local language is, accept that they did NOT visit your country to give free English lessons to strangers, and may very well be there to learn YOUR language.  Please respect this.  I am an American who used to live in Germany.  It was amazing how many complete strangers expected me to help them practise their English, even when I spoke only German in response.  Eventually, I learned not to say anything except"excuse me?' (in German) over and over, until they realized I was not their English instructor and it was German or nothing if they expected to converse with me.  This should not be necessary.

This made me think about my own experiences.
This happens everywhere, but mostly is only meant nicely, people want to be helpful way more than they want to practice their language. Many people automatically try to switch to the language they think the other person is more comfortable with. It's happened a lot to both me and my DH (to me in Germany and to him in Finland and Canada), we both either persist in our efforts or switch to the language the other person is trying to speak. It can be very frustrating, like when someone insists on speaking English with me (not my native language) instead of German, I agree and we then have to switch back quickly because they cannot understand me unless I make an effort to use "simple" words and structures. This happened even once I was more fluent in German than they were in English, and most of them really just stated: "We can switch to English if youd like and then kept speaking English untill we had trouble understanding each other in English and I switched back to German) I also figure that since I want to learn different languages and many people are helping me with it, I can speak a bit of my own or my other strong languages with them at times. Moreover, I still like to think that they're just doing it to be nice, not to use me.

I agree, I think people are simply being helpful when they do this, realizing that the person can speak a few words of their language, but really isn't comfortable with anything more.  If I was a tourist in a foreign country who needed help, and I heard two "locals" conversing in English - yes, I would possibly politely approach them, knowing that they can speak English - it's probably a better bet than the guy at the newsstand, for example.  If it's obvious that English is the "easier" language for all concerned, then I don't see the problem.

I do remember visiting the French islands of St Pierre and Miquelon (not far from Newfoundland) and I did try to use my high school French (I used to be fairly good, but had forgotten a lot by that stage).  We found our small bed-and-breakfast hotel and I greeted the landlady "bonsoir, nous nous appellons G...."  "Ah, vous parlez francais!"  "Non - non, non!"  She did speak fluent English, but practicing French here and there was fun for a few days.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Sophia on November 29, 2009, 02:54:28 PM
I am usually so relieved when someone responds to my use of the native language in English.  I remember working really really hard on my German accent.  It's painfully hard for me because I have no ear.  I was getting pretty good, and then one day I got a torrent of German in response.  I felt like such a fraud, my decent local accent gave that guy the idea that I might actually understand what he said.   I then switched back to my pathetic accent which caused people to pause after every time I said something, but at least communication continued. 

Should I take that literally?!  :o  ;D

Practically.  I can not tell you how many times I think I'm pronouncing something exactly like the person who is trying to teach me the proper way.  Then they'll repeat it because I have I obviously have it wrong,  I try again, but since I don't know where I went wrong I don't know what to correct. Repeat. Repeat.  Repeat. 
Languages taught me humility and empathy for dumb people. 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: claddagh lass on December 01, 2009, 03:13:28 PM
Do not make fun of a person's accent or their prononciation of words.

In some parts of America we tend to speak quickly or slowly.  If you cannot understand the speech ask the person to slow down their speech.  Many are more than happy to but won't know unless it's pointed out.

Edited to add

Do not treat the waitstaff or any employee of any kind like second class citizens.  Don't insult, threaten, or even go as far as to attack them.

I have had one woman threaten to have me fired because I politely and quietly informed her it was closing time.

A lady I know had a woman from Europe go as far as to grab her arm and leave puncture wounds for accepting payment from the woman's friends.  The woman herself wanted to pay and wouldn't have anyone else do it.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Lillie82 on December 12, 2009, 04:41:15 PM
If you overhear 2 people speaking together in English, or if an English-speaking tourist attempts to speak to you in the language of your country, do not respond in English.  If you do, and the person continues to speak in German, French, or whatever the local language is, accept that they did NOT visit your country to give free English lessons to strangers, and may very well be there to learn YOUR language.  Please respect this.  I am an American who used to live in Germany.  It was amazing how many complete strangers expected me to help them practise their English, even when I spoke only German in response.  Eventually, I learned not to say anything except"excuse me?' (in German) over and over, until they realized I was not their English instructor and it was German or nothing if they expected to converse with me.  This should not be necessary.

This made me think about my own experiences.
This happens everywhere, but mostly is only meant nicely, people want to be helpful way more than they want to practice their language. Many people automatically try to switch to the language they think the other person is more comfortable with. It's happened a lot to both me and my DH (to me in Germany and to him in Finland and Canada), we both either persist in our efforts or switch to the language the other person is trying to speak. It can be very frustrating, like when someone insists on speaking English with me (not my native language) instead of German, I agree and we then have to switch back quickly because they cannot understand me unless I make an effort to use "simple" words and structures. This happened even once I was more fluent in German than they were in English, and most of them really just stated: "We can switch to English if youd like and then kept speaking English untill we had trouble understanding each other in English and I switched back to German) I also figure that since I want to learn different languages and many people are helping me with it, I can speak a bit of my own or my other strong languages with them at times. Moreover, I still like to think that they're just doing it to be nice, not to use me.

I agree, I think people are simply being helpful when they do this, realizing that the person can speak a few words of their language, but really isn't comfortable with anything more.  If I was a tourist in a foreign country who needed help, and I heard two "locals" conversing in English - yes, I would possibly politely approach them, knowing that they can speak English - it's probably a better bet than the guy at the newsstand, for example.  If it's obvious that English is the "easier" language for all concerned, then I don't see the problem.

I do remember visiting the French islands of St Pierre and Miquelon (not far from Newfoundland) and I did try to use my high school French (I used to be fairly good, but had forgotten a lot by that stage).  We found our small bed-and-breakfast hotel and I greeted the landlady "bonsoir, nous nous appellons G...."  "Ah, vous parlez francais!"  "Non - non, non!"  She did speak fluent English, but practicing French here and there was fun for a few days.

I'm sorry if I'm repeating something that has been covered, but I have what I think may be the opposite problem. I work in the US, for an organization made up mostly of people who live in the US also, but hail from another country originally. They often converse in front of me, and other US-born people in the office, in their native language. I worry about missing something relevant to my work. Sometimes they also get upset if I ask what they're talking about. Recently we hosted people from the home country, and I was in a vehicle with four visitors and one of my colleagues, and they spoke their native language.  ::)

But even as I think to myself, "this is rude," I also realize that their language is the one they're comfortable with.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Elle on December 13, 2009, 01:06:31 AM


**This isn't really an etiquette thing, but it's worth mentioning. Learn how to ask where the bathroom is. You never realize how important that is until you really need to pee and you have to resort to sign language.

The real fun begins when you get a case of the back door trots and have to communicate that to the pharmacist who does not share a common language with you because you can't understand any of the labels for the OTC medicines .  :-[

Oh well, it's funny now (10 years later)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Sophia on December 13, 2009, 08:18:29 AM
Or similarly, explaining "Montezuma's Revenge" to your co-workers in Taiwan as the reason why you need to stay in your hotel for a couple of days. 

It was my own dang fault, I got lax.  They took me out to see the Lotus in bloom and there was a vendor of flavored ice.  The giant clue should have been that he didn't charge for mine because I was his first foreigner. 
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: JonGirl on December 14, 2009, 03:13:49 AM


If your coming to Australia:
No, kangaroos don't hop down the main street of Melbourne
No, you can't see the harbour bridge from every window in Sydney
No, Ayres rock is not 'down the road' from Darwin
No, a dingo did not eat my baby and
no, I didn't know Steve Irwin personally.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: GoldenGemini on December 14, 2009, 08:31:52 PM


If your coming to Australia:
No, kangaroos don't hop down the main street of Melbourne
No, you can't see the harbour bridge from every window in Sydney
No, Ayres rock is not 'down the road' from Darwin
No, a dingo did not eat my baby and
no, I didn't know Steve Irwin personally.

And a taxi from Sydney to Perth, whilst technically "just the other side of the island", will cost you several thousand dollars, and take a week!
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Nurvingiel on December 15, 2009, 01:01:38 AM
If your coming to Australia:
No, kangaroos don't hop down the main street of Melbourne
No, you can't see the harbour bridge from every window in Sydney
No, Ayres rock is not 'down the road' from Darwin
No, a dingo did not eat my baby and
no, I didn't know Steve Irwin personally.

And a taxi from Sydney to Perth, whilst technically "just the other side of the island", will cost you several thousand dollars, and take a week!
Hahahaha!!! Australia is a continent, after all.

Cautionary rather than etiquette, but everything in Australia can kill you. Including the wallabes.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: MRSW on December 15, 2009, 01:49:36 AM
If your coming to Australia:
No, kangaroos don't hop down the main street of Melbourne
No, you can't see the harbour bridge from every window in Sydney
No, Ayres rock is not 'down the road' from Darwin
No, a dingo did not eat my baby and
no, I didn't know Steve Irwin personally.

And a taxi from Sydney to Perth, whilst technically "just the other side of the island", will cost you several thousand dollars, and take a week!
Hahahaha!!! Australia is a continent, after all.

Cautionary rather than etiquette, but everything in Australia can kill you. Including the wallabes.

And especially the koalas?  >:D  ;D
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Waltraud on December 15, 2009, 02:22:58 AM
As far as I know (and I could probably dig my way to Australia if I went straight down) Koalas eat so much Eucalyptus that they are poisonous. So, if you eat a Koala, it might end up nasty.

(Or was that Pandas and bamboo? No ... wait... probably not...)  ???

Waltraud
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: JonGirl on December 15, 2009, 02:50:36 AM
As far as I know (and I could probably dig my way to Australia if I went straight down) Koalas eat so much Eucalyptus that they are poisonous. So, if you eat a Koala, it might end up nasty.

(Or was that Pandas and bamboo? No ... wait... probably not...)  ???

Waltraud

Don't know, never tasted a koala  :-X  ;D

Eucalyptus just makes them drunk.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: MRSW on December 15, 2009, 04:01:53 AM
As far as I know (and I could probably dig my way to Australia if I went straight down) Koalas eat so much Eucalyptus that they are poisonous. So, if you eat a Koala, it might end up nasty.

(Or was that Pandas and bamboo? No ... wait... probably not...)  ???

Waltraud

I just remembered hearing somewhere that koalas are even more vicious than they are adorable.  Which, unfortunately, is the #1 reason I think koalas are fascinating  ;D
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Orisha on December 20, 2009, 08:48:46 PM
-Learning some of the local venacular can save you embarrassment/trouble.  For instance, if you are an American travelling to Britain, New Zealand or Australia (I think), do not use the word "fanny."  (And for that matter, do not wear fanny packs.)  It's rude.  Also pants = underwear.  And in Jamaica and many of the other West Indies, the term "native" has racial connotations.  Say islander instead.

-If you are in country with a different language, never assume that they don't know your language.  I worked retail while in University.  Two Austrian tourists came into the shop and started saying all sorts of rude things about Americans in German, assuming that they wouldn't be understood.  They were shocked when I addressed them in perfect German.  (Which I have since lost!  :()

-Learn about local customs.  We ran into this obnoxious American family in Rome a few years ago who were angry because they couldn't order lunch during siesta and went on a tirade about Italians and Spaniards being "lazy."  (The sad thing is that the people who need to be reading these etiquette lessons are not the ones who are likely visiting this board!)

-Do not lump everyone of one nationality together or assume that individuals speak for everyone of X nationality.  Two American friends were badgered on their Irish honeymoon by a sanctimoneous German who felt that the US wasn't doing its part environmentally. 

Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Nurvingiel on December 20, 2009, 09:10:46 PM
-Do not lump everyone of one nationality together or assume that individuals speak for everyone of X nationality.  Two American friends were badgered on their Irish honeymoon by a sanctimoneous German who felt that the US wasn't doing its part environmentally. 
Or for that matter, the "don't talk about politics in polite company" is especially applicable here.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Fluffy Cat on December 30, 2009, 08:00:25 PM
-Learning some of the local venacular can save you embarrassment/trouble.  For instance, if you are an American travelling to Britain, New Zealand or Australia (I think), do not use the word "fanny."  (And for that matter, do not wear fanny packs.)  It's rude.  Also pants = underwear.  And in Jamaica and many of the other West Indies, the term "native" has racial connotations.  Say islander instead.

I think this one is kind of a two way street.  I think the visitor should certainly do their best to avoid such words, but I also think the locals (once aware of the visitor status) need to cut a little slack.  Sometimes its hard to avoid commonly used words no matter how hard you try.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: marcel on December 30, 2009, 08:39:49 PM
-Learning some of the local venacular can save you embarrassment/trouble.  For instance, if you are an American travelling to Britain, New Zealand or Australia (I think), do not use the word "fanny."  (And for that matter, do not wear fanny packs.)  It's rude.  Also pants = underwear.  And in Jamaica and many of the other West Indies, the term "native" has racial connotations.  Say islander instead.

I think this one is kind of a two way street.  I think the visitor should certainly do their best to avoid such words, but I also think the locals (once aware of the visitor status) need to cut a little slack.  Sometimes its hard to avoid commonly used words no matter how hard you try.
And let's not forget all those people that are not from an English speaking country, and thus use American, British, Australian english all mixed together. often without knowing it.

example: I have always known that a fag could be both a gay person or a cigarette, but I have only known a few years now that the cigarette definition is not used in the US.
re fanny: I know the different regions of the body it can refer to, but I never know where it is what.

-Do not lump everyone of one nationality together or assume that individuals speak for everyone of X nationality.  Two American friends were badgered on their Irish honeymoon by a sanctimoneous German who felt that the US wasn't doing its part environmentally. 
Or for that matter, the "don't talk about politics in polite company" is especially applicable here.
allthough I completely agree that the German was rude, the don't talk politics rule is typically one that is not an etiquette rule in every country. Over here it is considered a normal subject, very acceptable for polite conversation
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Orisha on December 30, 2009, 10:02:09 PM
-Learning some of the local venacular can save you embarrassment/trouble.  For instance, if you are an American travelling to Britain, New Zealand or Australia (I think), do not use the word "fanny."  (And for that matter, do not wear fanny packs.)  It's rude.  Also pants = underwear.  And in Jamaica and many of the other West Indies, the term "native" has racial connotations.  Say islander instead.

I think this one is kind of a two way street.  I think the visitor should certainly do their best to avoid such words, but I also think the locals (once aware of the visitor status) need to cut a little slack.  Sometimes its hard to avoid commonly used words no matter how hard you try.
And let's not forget all those people that are not from an English speaking country, and thus use American, British, Australian english all mixed together. often without knowing it.

example: I have always known that a fag could be both a g*a*y person or a cigarette, but I have only known a few years now that the cigarette definition is not used in the US.
re fanny: I know the different regions of the body it can refer to, but I never know where it is what.

Fair enough.  FYI, it is when you are in the UK, New Zealand or Australia that it refers to a part of the female anatomy.

-Do not lump everyone of one nationality together or assume that individuals speak for everyone of X nationality.  Two American friends were badgered on their Irish honeymoon by a sanctimoneous German who felt that the US wasn't doing its part environmentally. 
Or for that matter, the "don't talk about politics in polite company" is especially applicable here.
allthough I completely agree that the German was rude, the don't talk politics rule is typically one that is not an etiquette rule in every country. Over here it is considered a normal subject, very acceptable for polite conversation
[/quote]

Also fair enough.  I'm assuming that the "don't verbally assail strangers" rule applies just about everywhere?
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Nurvingiel on December 31, 2009, 06:05:35 PM
I didn't realize that "don't talk about politics in polite company" is not a universal rule. (Of course, for some of my friends, talking about politics is fine. Maybe that means we're not polite. ;D)
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: kherbert05 on January 02, 2010, 06:44:40 PM
I didn't realize that "don't talk about politics in polite company" is not a universal rule. (Of course, for some of my friends, talking about politics is fine. Maybe that means we're not polite. ;D)

Not if you can do it politely. I don't know if this falls under the "don't discuss politics" rule, but I have explained the Federal System to many people from a Parliamentary system. Now this is after they asked something like how can our government can work if the Majority in Congress and the President are from different parties. I've also explained how the electoral college works.
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Nurvingiel on January 03, 2010, 06:42:43 PM
I didn't realize that "don't talk about politics in polite company" is not a universal rule. (Of course, for some of my friends, talking about politics is fine. Maybe that means we're not polite. ;D)

Not if you can do it politely. I don't know if this falls under the "don't discuss politics" rule, but I have explained the Federal System to many people from a Parliamentary system. Now this is after they asked something like how can our government can work if the Majority in Congress and the President are from different parties. I've also explained how the electoral college works.
I would find such a discussion fascinating and I know I would be polite. :)

That sounds more like "explaining the electoral system" moreso than "politics" though.

Also, I never knew what "fanny" meant in the UK. I knew it was something other than "bum". I feel educated now. ;D
Title: Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
Post by: Switcher on January 20, 2010, 04:39:45 PM
Quote
-If you are in country with a different language, never assume that they don't know your language.  I worked retail while in University.  Two Austrian tourists came into the shop and started saying all sorts of rude things about Americans in German, assuming that they wouldn't be understood.  They were shocked when I addressed them in perfect German.  (Which I have since lost!  )

Kind of off topic, but I had a very similar experiance.

I spent a year in Germany, and towards the end of it I was walking down the street and these two very loud, raunchy American boys walked behind me and started saying pretty innapropriate things (least of which was commenting on my booty!). I slowed down to tie my shoe against a wall and as the passed I yelled "I'm American by the way!" They cursed and laughed...very interesting!

As for the politics thing, it depends on the company. My host parents wanted to hear all about American politics, thought it was facinating.