Author Topic: etiquette of visiting other countries  (Read 19532 times)

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mechtilde

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #30 on: June 02, 2009, 12:39:27 PM »
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.
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M-theory

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #31 on: June 03, 2009, 02:44:53 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?

Mahdoumi

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #32 on: June 03, 2009, 09:41:13 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.

Traveler

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2009, 03:36:55 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".] 

mechtilde

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #34 on: June 04, 2009, 05:14:37 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.
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magdalena

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #35 on: June 04, 2009, 05:39:21 AM »
All the advice is great!

I've been laughing and nodding all the way through this thread  :)



Mahdoumi

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #36 on: June 04, 2009, 09:28:43 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!  :)

L.A. Lady

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #37 on: June 12, 2009, 03:13:26 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. 

misha412

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #38 on: June 16, 2009, 12:11:03 PM »
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.

Brandydan

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #39 on: June 16, 2009, 04:23:31 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.

MadMadge43

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #40 on: June 19, 2009, 06:07:51 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.

Vaire

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #41 on: June 30, 2009, 04:40:04 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 ;)
« Last Edit: June 30, 2009, 04:42:12 PM by Vaire »

MadMadge43

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #42 on: June 30, 2009, 04:46:40 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.

Redblues

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #43 on: August 26, 2009, 03:02:50 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.
 

Redblues

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #44 on: August 26, 2009, 03:21:42 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.