March 19, 2014. Most people around the world have an opinion about Americans, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever met one or ever been to the US. Such is the result of being the world’s main superpower. But one place to find propaganda-free descriptions of America is the international travel industry. Many of the warnings and descriptions given to customers planning a trip to the US are humorous, and in some cases, cause for reflection.
Tourism to the US continues its long-term steady rise. Image courtesy of TravelWeekly.com.
Last month, Yahoo Travel published an assortment of travel warnings and recommendations by foreign travel agents as compiled by writer Christy Karras. Some of them are funny, at least to the average American. While others can come across as slightly insulting. One thing they all have in common is their sincere effort to prepare foreign travelers for their first trip to America. Below are a handful of the more interesting quotes.
Food & Water
Argentina: “There are strict laws regarding hygiene at eating places that must be met, so that restaurants and even street stalls are safe. In some areas you can take the tap water. Bottled water is available everywhere and is most recommended.”
Australia: “A veritable swimming pool of water greets you when you open the toilet lid and when you flush, it all goes down the drain in a huge rotating whirlpool.”
Japan: “American food is about big, bold taste, and is indifferent to subtleties. Hence ‘hidden ingredients’ are seldom seen…Basically, they like sweet tasting foods, as well as foods that are high in fat and calories.”
Japan: “In the US, they do not have a sense of pride if they drink a large amount. Rather, if you drink a lot, there is a sense that you cannot manage yourself, and you can lose respect from those around you. Being drunk doesn't excuse your actions, and to drink alcohol habitually is a sign of alcoholism. Alcoholics are seen as mentally weak, and are ostracized by society due to their inability to have self control."
Those Wacky Americans
Australia: “Americans are REALLY opinionated. And they want to know what you think about the government, about politics, about current issues. A typical conversation might go like this: ‘Hi I’m Matt. Nice to meet you.’ ‘The name’s Bob. Where you from Matt?’ ‘Sydney, Australia.’ ‘Oh I see. You’ve come a long way. So what’s your take on Obamacare?’”
Germany: “During a party at your house, don’t be surprised if Americans will just walk up to your fridge and help themselves.”
Japan: “In America, when men or women laugh, they do not turn away. In general, they face front, open the mouth, and laugh in a loud voice. This is because in America if you muffle your laugh or turn away while laughing, you give the impression that you are talking about a secret or name-calling. It comes across as vulgar and insidious.”
American Police State
France: “Do not miss and be certain to visit driving in a country that venerates it. But scrupulously respect the speed limits, the constabulary of the United States not kidding.”
Switzerland: "The legal system can be very different from one state to another and is often inspired by moral principles stiffer than in Switzerland. For example it is forbidden to bathe topless or without shirt (kids), urinate on public roads or photograph partially unclothed children (even at home). It is forbidden for people under 21 to drink alcohol. Similarly, people who drink alcohol in public or carry alcoholic beverages without concealing from the eyes are guilty of an offense.”
China: “Americans are such strict rule followers…I was deeply impressed by how much people honored the rules even when they are not seen.”
Russia: “Business gifts in the US are not acceptable. Moreover, they often cause suspicion. Americans fear that they could be construed as a bribe, and in the United States that is strictly punishable by law.”
Russia: “US etiquette prohibits flirting with a woman who is not your girlfriend or wife. If you are not acquainted with a woman, whether she be in a restaurant, on the street, or on the subway, do not look at her legs, etc. Americans could easily call the police on you.”
The American Language
Germany: “Things like ‘We should get together sometime’ doesn’t really mean anything, unless the same people keep mentioning it to you."
Russia: “'See you later' should not be taken literally. That is a courtesy, and no more... Russian conversational patterns often sound harsh to Americans. Statements such as, 'You’re wrong,' can be offensive. This can be interpreted as 'You are telling lies!' Therefore it is better to say, 'I do not think I can agree with this.'"
Russia: “Seeing the man who had fallen in the street, an American asks, 'Are you all right?' Russians will inquire, 'Are you ill?' We see a victim of the incident; they see survivors…We discuss the problem. They discuss issues and items on the agenda."
American Customs & Culture
France: “Remember that Indian reserves in the western United States are economic and human realities, not museums.”
Italy: “It is not mandatory to tip, however, it is strongly recommended, because in many cases it is the only entry of workers.”
England: “There are occasional outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis and dengue fever.”
England: “When an American announces that they’re part Irish, part Polish and part Moldovan because their great-great-grandparents hailed from these far-off lands, you might find yourself snorting dismissively. Try to hold off until they’re out of earshot.”
India: “Based on my experience everyone need to bring almost every basic thing you need on a daily basis.”
Russia: “Americans are a nation that truly feels happy. These people get used to smiling from the cradle onwards, so they do not pretend to be cheerful. The desire for a successful happy life is inculcated from childhood.”
Japan: “In Japan, hip hop clothes are considered stylish. But in the United States, it is wise to avoid them, as you might be mistaken for a member of a street gang.”
Russia: “Gifts: Americans do not expect them. On the contrary, an unexpected gift while conducting business can put an American in an awkward position. Such things for Americans suggest reciprocity.”
Russia: “You don’t have to prepare for something extravagant. Everything is the same as ours, only with far less booze. Bring something sporty - ball, badminton, Americans are certainly fervent fans of these things.”
Russia: “Men and women tend to shake hands. Mutual kissing and kissing ladies' hands is not accepted. Also, women play a greater role in business. Often they insist to be treated exactly as an equal and not as a lady. In this regard, it is not acceptable to be excessively gallant.”
Read the full article at Yahoo Travel.
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