Author Topic: etiquette of visiting other countries  (Read 17918 times)

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Switcher

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #75 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.

marcel

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #76 on: November 27, 2009, 12:25:46 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
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JonGirl

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #77 on: November 27, 2009, 01:36:08 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
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Nurvingiel

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #78 on: November 27, 2009, 03:11:14 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.
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kherbert05

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #79 on: November 27, 2009, 12:49:58 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
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L.A. Lady

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #80 on: November 27, 2009, 05:10:23 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.

Auntie Mame

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #81 on: November 27, 2009, 05:44:06 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.
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kherbert05

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #82 on: November 27, 2009, 06:46:00 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.
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hellgirl

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #83 on: November 27, 2009, 08:37:48 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  ;)

kareng57

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #84 on: November 27, 2009, 09:10:32 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.

Sophia

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #85 on: November 29, 2009, 03:54:28 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. 

claddagh lass

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #86 on: December 01, 2009, 04:13:28 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.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2009, 11:31:10 AM by claddagh lass »

Lillie82

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #87 on: December 12, 2009, 05:41:15 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.

Elle

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #88 on: December 13, 2009, 02:06:31 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)

Sophia

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Re: etiquette of visiting other countries
« Reply #89 on: December 13, 2009, 09:18:29 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.