Author Topic: etiquette of visiting other countries  (Read 19301 times)

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NOVA Lady

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #60 on: November 24, 2009, 04:58:29 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.


:)

marcel

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #61 on: November 24, 2009, 11:29:39 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.
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matf

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #62 on: November 25, 2009, 09:14:52 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.

Fluffy Cat

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #63 on: November 26, 2009, 12:27:15 AM »
- Learn at least a few phrases in English.

I suggest "please" "thank you" and "excuse me"
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Tizzy

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #64 on: November 26, 2009, 08:50:28 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.



magdalena

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #65 on: November 26, 2009, 09:00:35 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!



Sophia

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #66 on: November 26, 2009, 09:00:59 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.  

magdalena

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #67 on: November 26, 2009, 09:17:44 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.



Sophia

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #68 on: November 26, 2009, 09:25:32 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. 

magdalena

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #69 on: November 26, 2009, 09:36:01 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....



Nurvingiel

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #70 on: November 26, 2009, 01:17:20 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, a province (county?) who's accent is so different from the province where I lived it is like unto another language.
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Shoo

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #71 on: November 26, 2009, 01:25:11 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. 

Nurvingiel

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #72 on: November 26, 2009, 01:28:26 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.
If I had some ham, I could have ham and eggs, if I had some eggs.

Snowy Owl

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #73 on: November 26, 2009, 03:31:18 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. 
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Switcher

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #74 on: November 26, 2009, 10:21:23 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.