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Thread: Travel etiquette tips from your country

  1. #1
    Keyla the Otter
    Registered: Mar 2009
    Location: USA

    Travel etiquette tips from your country

    So a friend of mine on Twitter posted a selfie recently and I noticed that being from America, she didn't know what a backwards peace sign means in Britain. That got me thinking: what are some things you often see people do that would probably offend someone in your country?

    I know that in America, it's not polite to slurp while eating noodles but over in parts of Asia, it's actually very polite.

  2. #2
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Things to not do when visiting Finland:

    -Talking to strangers.
    -Making extended eye-contact.
    -Smiling in public.
    -Sitting next to someone on public transport if there are other seats available.

    Yes, you can come over and visit, but please don't bother us. We're very shy.

    I'm only semi-joking.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    In the Netherlands, we don't care if you can't speak Dutch. We're happy to talk to you in English and I'll even give German a shot (unfortunately, I cannot speak French myself). But if you should make fun of my Dutch accent when speaking English or my lack of fluency in German, you're on your own and you shouldn't expect me to remain friendly.

    EDIT: anecdote time: I once had to give directions in German and I didn't know what the German word for roundabout was, so I struggled to explain it. The lady said: "Hast du kein Deutsch gehat im Schule?" (didn't you learn German in school?). Verpisst dich, German bitch!
    Last edited by Harvester; 30th May 2017 at 09:44.

  4. #4
    Keyla the Otter
    Registered: Mar 2009
    Location: USA
    @henke That third one, I might have a problem with. :P Maybe if the smile isn't too broad?

    I totally feel you on the last one. I get pretty uncomfortable sometimes when there's someone sitting next to me and there's other seats open.

    @Harvester - That's something I can relate to, being a novice at speaking Serbian. Serbian is a very tough language for me and I was being tutored by a friend who was a native speaker. Fast forward several months and he started talking down to me, saying I will never learn the language, just because I was struggling with it. I quickly ended the conversation and our friendship along with it. And that was it. Nobody likes to be treated like an idiot. I feel your pain there with the German lady.
    Last edited by Ryan Smith; 30th May 2017 at 09:51.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Harvester View Post
    In the Netherlands, we don't care if you can't speak Dutch. We're happy to talk to you in English and I'll even give German a shot (unfortunately, I cannot speak French myself). But if you should make fun of my Dutch accent when speaking English or my lack of fluency in German, you're on your own and you shouldn't expect me to remain friendly.

    EDIT: anecdote time: I once had to give directions in German and I didn't know what the German word for roundabout was, so I struggled to explain it. The lady said: "Hast du kein Deutsch gehat im Schule?" (didn't you learn German in school?). Verpisst dich, German bitch!
    There's a reason the angry German woman stereotype exists.


    Can't speak so much in a tourist climate, but one major difference exists in professional context that I've noticed. Americans have some odd compunction to fill absolutely every silent space in the air with conversation. It's also expected to talk about absolutely everything, all the time.

    In most German work environments this is considered to be extremely disruptive and rude. The norm is to focus on work topics only, and to just get the work done during the day (lunchtime excepted of course).

    Also I know this isn't just Americans (this applies much more so to Chinese tourists), but people waving around selfie sticks with no situational awareness can fuck right off.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    For something I experienced twice on the train today:

    * People not waiting for people to get off the carriage before attempting to shove their way onto the train. On both occasions I had to push a person out of the way so I could get off.

    For other things not to do:

    * Play music on speaker mode / headphones unplugged. It's extremely annoying.
    * Talk at such high volume that other people can't even hear each other talk. Stupid.

    Is it just me, or are people getting worse on public transport as time goes on?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    For something I experienced twice on the train today:

    * People not waiting for people to get off the carriage before attempting to shove their way onto the train. On both occasions I had to push a person out of the way so I could get off.

    For other things not to do:

    * Play music on speaker mode / headphones unplugged. It's extremely annoying.
    * Talk at such high volume that other people can't even hear each other talk. Stupid.

    Is it just me, or are people getting worse on public transport as time goes on?
    You tell me:








    Personally I think people are getting worse everywhere. Just the other day I got literally walked right into by an undergrad lady who was texting and walking on her phone.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    In Canada you should know that we don't actually say "eh" or "aboot", unless we are referring to the first letter of the alphabet or rugged, high-topped footwear.

    If you are on a tour with commentary that is in a language you don't speak, STFU!. That meaningless gabble is actually a valuable service that your fellow travelers paid for. Also, don't try to out history your guide, it's rude. And don't pester them with questions unless they invite them. They have a patter which is designed to convey the maximum amount of critical information at precise points in the tour. Don't fuck with their groove.

    Don't tip with left over foreign currency you brought from some other part of the world. The garbage can is over there... On the other hand, feel free to unload the local change cluttering your pockets, on some worthy person employed in the tourist trade. Don't bother counting it, it's just monopoly money, after all.

    Also, bible tracts disguised as money are not appreciated. The receiver has either already assured their place in eternity or they will interpret your cowardly attempt at proselytizing as proof that your heaven if full of duplicitous cheapskates and should be avoided.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    Really cool topic idea, Ryan! I am trying to think of examples specific to Poland but can't think of anything... except maybe the sort-of reverse to the topic: don't expect politeness in stores. Many clerks have a tendency of being court, even rude. Yes, I got called out for taking too long to count the change. Things like that.

    On trams/buses it is customary to give up your seat to elders or women. Yes, people actually do that here. Well, more than the US at least.

    Also, if meeting family, expect a long stay with too much food, alcohol, coffee and cake after.


    Quote Originally Posted by henke View Post
    Things to not do when visiting Finland:

    -Talking to strangers.
    -Making extended eye-contact.
    -Smiling in public.
    -Sitting next to someone on public transport if there are other seats available.
    So basically, I fucked up on all accounts

  10. #10
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    In Canada you should know that we don't actually say "eh" or "aboot", unless we are referring to the first letter of the alphabet or rugged, high-topped footwear.
    The vast majority of Canadians I've ran into over the years sound like they're speaking a Minnesotan accent with a slight twist. Though there are a few Canadians out there with accents so thick, I couldn't immediately recognize them as Canadian when I first heard them.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Orange Grove
    Just a few tips if you find yourself in Southern California:

    - Do not drive in the left lane at the speed limit or slower. Stay to the right if you want to go slow.

    - Get off your cell phones while driving.

    - Yes, sales tax is charged on top of the listed price. Expect to pay more than the tag.

    - Gasoline (petrol, benzene, etc.) is an exception - all taxes are included in the price and boy are there a lot of taxes. Still, gas is way cheaper than Europe, but it is about $1 to $2 more per gallon in CA than other states.

    - Thumb and index finger forming an O means OK, not toss off.

    - A middle finger means f-off

    - A clenched fist and thumb sticking upward does not mean “up-yours”. It means "thumbs up”, or things are good, dandy, way to go, similar to OK - good job, or I am feeling great.

    - Don’t spit on the side walk, however, you may spit in the gutter or planters, but try to be discrete about it.

    - Urinating in a public place - even a back alley way - can get you arrested and charged with a sexual crime. You may have to register as a sex offender. Yes, they are that idiotic here sometimes.

    - Be careful of public toilets in parks and rest stops on highways. You may be solicited for sex and/or robbed. Using these facilities at night is not in your best interest - unless your goal is to score a bit of AIDS or a packet of meth.

    - Don’t j-walk - use cross walks and do not walk on the red

    - While driving in most areas, unless noted by a sign, you may turn right on a red light if you stop first.

    - Do not saunter at a super slow pace with your pals 4 people wide blocking the entire side walk.

    - Do not feel it is OK to sit in the middle of an isle or other walkway and break out a game of mahjong

    - It is considered rude to bring exceptionally stinky food to work, on the bus, or in an airplane.

    - It is pretty much illegal to smoke in public. Even when it is legal, many people will treat you like you have leprosy

    - Do not fart loudly in a public place.

    - Do not belch after eating, unless you are in a Persian restaurant and others are doing it too.

    - Do not cough or sneeze into the buffet trays, put food back you have already put on your plate, or doddle too long while in line.

    - Stand at least 10 feet back from the ATM when someone else is using it. However, when in line at a fast food place, it is NOT an ATM, so stand a little closer at about 5 to 6 feet, just enough room for the person at the counter to get their stuff and walk away without being crowded, but not so far back that you could drive a truck between yourselves.

    - It is not cool to pinch the butts of random cute girls (or boys if you are so inclined) - unless you are at one of “those” types of parties.

    - Unfortunately, if rains here rarely. If it s raining, try to avoid driving. CA drivers are mostly idiots in the rain. They either drive excessively fast, or extremely slowly. Many people’s wiper blades are in tatters, so they cannot see. Almost all sports cars have summer tires, so wet traction is not so good. Expect to see at least 4 to 10 wrecks per day.

    - And lastly, no it is not possible to come out here for a 4 day driving tour and see the red woods, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Las Vegas, San Diego, LA, Disneyland, and the Grand Canyon.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2010
    Location: A Former Orange Grove
    Renzatic, you are right about that Minnesotan accent thing, at least for people in the middle provinces. My wife and I have some friends from that area (Winnipeg) and they do say “eh” from time to time. I also used to do a lot of business with the IBM Lab in Toronto and they many there said “aboot” and "comp-o-sit” instead of “com-poz-it". I’ve observed that Canada has nearly as many accents as the USA. Yes, some do say “eh” and “aboot”. Not all, but some do.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    If people in the Atlantic Provinces say "aboot" they are likely just making fun of visitors. The proper Atlantic pronunciation of about is pretty much identical to the Scottish pronunciation (sorry BBC Culture but you got that wrong).

    If you hear Canadians say a McKenzie Brothers inspired "eh", it's almost certainly a bit of self effacing humour since we never actually used it as verbal decoration until after SCTV aired. Nevertheless, it's OUR word. YOU don't get to use it unless you want aboot to the head, eh.

    There are really only half a dozen English dialects in Canada; the midwestern, which is pretty much identical to the general American accent preferred by broadcasters (until recently when vaguely regional variants became vogue), Atlantic, Acadian French, Quebec French and two or maybe three First Nations variants.

    The differences between Canadian and American English are far more obvious on paper than in the ear.

    Tip your tour guide.

  14. #14
    Administrator
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_Tarantula View Post
    I got literally walked right into by an undergrad lady who was texting and walking on her phone.
    To be fair, that's pretty impressive. Was she using her toes to type?

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Let's see..

    A big one that still keeps happening is people not taking off shoes when they enter someone's home. If you're in a country where they are commonly taken off at the entrance, it is rude at best, but if you're in Japan, you might as well spit in your hosts' face and slap their children while you're at it.

    If you're in Bulgaria, you have to shake your head if you agree and nod if you don't. Completely tripped me up when I visited.

    In Finland, don't touch people. They have an almost allergic reaction to it. In some cultures, it's normal to touch the hand or shoulder of your conversation partner. Not in Finland. And stand at least half a meter away. Last time I saw an American and a Finn at a meet, they were "dancing" across the room, with the American continuing to step closer and the Finn stepping away.

  16. #16
    El Shagmeister
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Under your fingernails.
    In Mexico, don't mess with la raza.

    You will die.

    <3

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    Yeah, I've heard about the personal space thing in Finland. I have an autistic co-worker without a sense of personal space. He's a good guy and we get along great, but he stands way too close when talking to me.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
    If people in the Atlantic Provinces say "aboot" they are likely just making fun of visitors. The proper Atlantic pronunciation of about is pretty much identical to the Scottish pronunciation (sorry BBC Culture but you got that wrong).
    To a lot of Americans, particularly ones from German settled regions, the Scottish pronunciation of "about" sounds somewhat like "aboot" anyway.

    I found it funny that most people here consider the generic midwestern or "broadcaster" dialect to be the least accented version of American and Canadian English, but I found that after living in non-rhotic English speaking countries for a while, it turned into one of the stronger sounding accents in American English, with men sounding like pirates using long "r"s everywhere (ahrrr, err, etc.) and the women sounding nasal.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Yakoob View Post
    Also, if meeting family, expect a long stay with too much food...
    This is common in so many cultures that I think we should just call out the English diaspora for having short family visits with too little food.

  20. #20
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    The entire nation is slowly going rhotic. I believe the only American accent that's non-rhotic these days is New Englander, and we consider them a bunch of dirty traitors for it.

    R's are meant to be pronounced, people. Those who don't abide the new standard get the ferule.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Lille, France
    Always say "Bonjour" when walking in somewhere, "S'il vous plaît, Madame/Monsieur" if you want something, "Merci" and "Au revoir" when leaving.

    Politeness is important peculiarly in smaller towns and country-side in France.

    They won't mind your accent and appreciate the efforts.

    Smile.

    Don't spit in the streets, don't speak your language too loud.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Smith View Post
    she didn't know what a backwards peace sign means in Britain.
    Yeah, I saw that when Doug Williams (a british wrestler) did that to us when performing in France. Don't know if people understood but anyway he was booed...
    Last edited by Stefan_Key; 30th May 2017 at 17:54.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    The entire nation is slowly going rhotic. I believe the only American accent that's non-rhotic these days is New Englander, and we consider them a bunch of dirty traitors for it.

    R's are meant to be pronounced, people. Those who don't abide the new standard get the ferule.
    Despite what the movies might have you believe, the traditional non-rhotic Boston accent is disappearing. Another generation or two and it will be all but gone, although the downeast Maine variant might hang around a while longer. The NYC/Northern Jersey accent is also traditionally non-rhotic, but also in decline, and it includes the intrusive R in a lot of words.

    When I first met my in-laws, I thought talking to them was kind of amusing because because they're French Canadian, but raised in Massachusetts, and they seem to selectively apply a Boston accent to some words and phrases, and use a New York style intrusive R with other words, and throw in a little bit of French Canadian accent here and there, along with some mispronounced French words.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_Key View Post
    Always say "Bonjour" when walking in somewhere, "S'il vous plaît, Madame/Monsieur" if you want something, "Merci" and "Au revoir" when leaving.

    Politeness is important peculiarly in smaller towns and country-side in France.

    They won't mind your accent and appreciate the efforts.
    Yes, I know that's very important in France. If I'm going to France, I'm going to make sure I get the basic politeness phrases right.

    It's kind of the same in Italy. When I got off a cable car in Italy, some Italian men said "goodbye" to me in English. I replied with "arrivederci". They enthusiastically replied "arriverderci" again and I could just tell they appreciated me greeting them in their own language. In the Netherlands, it's different. You can be polite to us in English (the Dutch are above average English speakers so we're able to tell when you're sincerely polite), we're fine with that. If the Dutch person understands German, French or any other language you speak, it's the same, it's the politeness itself that counts. There's no need to learn Dutch politeness phrases unless you plan on staying for an extended time.

  24. #24
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: Sulphur, whatever
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    To a lot of Americans, particularly ones from German settled regions, the Scottish pronunciation of "about" sounds somewhat like "aboot" anyway.
    Irvine Welsh transcribes it to 'aboot' as well, and that's from patter in and about Leith. As someone who's studied a few accents, I can't distinguish much of a difference, though of course you can find folks in and around Scotland who use the /aʊ/ diphthong in place of the long /uː/. Out of interest, anyone know the IPA transcription for how it's said in Canada?

  25. #25
    Keyla the Otter
    Registered: Mar 2009
    Location: USA
    Formatting is funky on this post, so bear with me

    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Let's see..

    A big one that still keeps happening is people not taking off shoes when they enter someone's home. If you're in a country where they are commonly taken off at the entrance, it is rude at best, but if you're in Japan, you might as well spit in your hosts' face and slap their children while you're at it.

    In Britain, people are encouraged to take their shoes off at the door, and being in America, my neighbors don't mind at all if I take them off or not, but having grown up in Britain, I prefer to do the polite thing and take off my shoes at the door. One thing I actually picked up as a habit from Japanese culture is bowing when thanking someone or as a greeting. I do it without thinking now.

    If you're in Bulgaria, you have to shake your head if you agree and nod if you don't. Completely tripped me up when I visited.

    I actually saw that on a Japanese TV show one time. That's how I learned about Bulgarian nods and shakes. A good way to save yourself from force of habit is to agree/disagree verbally.

    In Finland, don't touch people. They have an almost allergic reaction to it. In some cultures, it's normal to touch the hand or shoulder of your conversation partner. Not in Finland. And stand at least half a meter away. Last time I saw an American and a Finn at a meet, they were "dancing" across the room, with the American continuing to step closer and the Finn stepping away.
    I'm not Finnish but I do that sometimes because I don't like to be touched, either. Mostly due to sensory imbalances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harvester View Post
    Yeah, I've heard about the personal space thing in Finland. I have an autistic co-worker without a sense of personal space. He's a good guy and we get along great, but he stands way too close when talking to me.
    I'm autistic as well and I've been through the same experience You won't have to worry about me getting in your face. The ones who practically breathe down your neck also tend to have breath so bad, they could kill weeds with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakoob View Post
    Really cool topic idea, Ryan! I am trying to think of examples specific to Poland but can't think of anything... except maybe the sort-of reverse to the topic: don't expect politeness in stores. Many clerks have a tendency of being court, even rude. Yes, I got called out for taking too long to count the change. Things like that.

    I actually used to visit a Polish grocery shop when I lived in the UK. I didn't have any problems with the clerk, just a tiny bit of a language barrier. lol But the shop had some really yummy snacks, including these chocolate hazelnut pirouline-like rolled wafers. So good!

    On trams/buses it is customary to give up your seat to elders or women. Yes, people actually do that here. Well, more than the US at least.

    I don't mind doing that so much, as long as I have a place to sit. I always give up my seat so my mom can fit in first (usually after being told to scoot over )

    Also, if meeting family, expect a long stay with too much food, alcohol, coffee and cake after.

    Aside from the alcohol (because I don't drink alcohol), that sounds like heaven to me. I love food and I love drinks.


    So basically, I fucked up on all accounts
    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_Key View Post
    Always say "Bonjour" when walking in somewhere, "S'il vous plaît, Madame/Monsieur" if you want something, "Merci" and "Au revoir" when leaving.

    Politeness is important peculiarly in smaller towns and country-side in France.

    They won't mind your accent and appreciate the efforts.

    Smile.

    Don't spit in the streets, don't speak your language too loud.

    If I ever get to travel to a foreign country, I will not be going alone, nor will I be going without a native friend. That friend will help teach me the customs to bear in mind

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