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May 17, 2006


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Bernard Guerrero

They don't like loud voices and casual profanity? Well, I'm f*ing sunk....


There certainly are plenty of Americans who aren't Christians, and plenty of Christians who don't feel the need to talk about their religion loundly and in public. It's the 5 to 10% that are niether of the above that reinforce the stereotype of Americans as a bunch of fundamentalist loonies.

Jussi Jalonen

"Nobody can beat the Germans when it comes to pessimism"? Go on with your unfounded boasts, you grinning little idiots.

Anyhow, to the topic of advices. I should say that in my limited experience, American tourists are generally well-behaved and pose absolutely no trouble whatsoever. Italians, on the other hand...

Depending on the context, there's nothing wrong with a little casual profanity, although as usual, one should be careful when taking the first steps on foreign ground. In any case, any local resident worth his/her salt values some imaginative swearing as an integral part of self-expression. Even from a foreigner. Be creative.

Loud voices can be tolerated, provided that the loudness is intermediate, occasional and does not combine with continuous fast talking. Depends on _where_ you are, of course. In certain places, a continuous whispering can be far more annoying to the natives. What, those goddamn foreigners are talking about _me_ behind my back?

As for the Bible, sheesh. Again, depends on the context. Even though sudden exclamations of faith and conversion attempts are likely to be regarded with baffled looks (but seriously, what tourist would do that?), that doesn't mean that the Holy Scriptures could not be a perfectly valid topic for an everyday conversation. Who knows, a well-placed quote from the Big Book may even give you a positively intellectual outlook.

And don't smile. Ever. Period.


Bernard Guerrero

"And don't smile. Ever. Period."

Good advice in all places and times, Jusi. :^)


Germans are pessimistic?!?


Bernard Guerrero

I need a copy of that paper.....


Bernard: get it here:


Noel Maurer

Hi, Claudia! "The World Citizens Guide" is not aimed at Americans. It is aimed at suburban Texan college students. There is a difference.

It wouldn't occur to anyone at, say, SUNY-Stonybrook to issue a guide in which people are told not to mention the Bible. It would be like issuing a guide that advises people not to announce their annual income to total strangers. It just wouldn't occur to anyone to do that, so why would you need to be advised not to?

On the other hand, this old Stanford mimeo (Carlos, it's your fault that I'm even spending time locating these things) that we were issued when travelling abroad did explicitly warn us to avoid open discussions of sex, particularly homosexuality. (This was in 1990.) If sex is mentioned in the World Citizens Guide, I missed it.

A guide issued to urban Californian college students, you see, noted other things. I mentioned sex. It also seems to have advised us not to try to bribe police officers in Chile or Italy, despite their superficial resemblance to a certain other country. The reason for this is obvious to even to a cloistered Californian. It is probably close to incomprehensible to a Minnesotan. And while it should be obvious to a Texan, I suspect that the authors of the guide were afraid that even mentioning this unfortunate American assumption would merely encourage stereotypical behavior rather than dissuade it.

Red State, Blue State. Often exaggerated, but still a real difference. I hope that helps, Claudia.

Francis Burdett

Aye, Noel, Aye

But did that Stanford guide also raise the perils of _having_ sex with Italian police officers?

All I can say is you live and learn, you live and learn.

Noel Maurer

Under the assumption that the topic can be sanitized to fit the requirements of this family blog ... talk to us, Francis!

Nat W.

I'm studying abroad in Spain this semester and have travelled a lot to various parts of Europe, and I don't think the tip about smiling is a good one at all. When I smile at random strangers, they stare me down. Don't frown or walk around looking like a sourpuss, but don't walk around with a huge grin on your face either. You'll look like a jackass, and the natives will stare at you like you're an idiot.

Bernard Guerrero

I wasn't going to mention it, but a recent article in the WSJ on how Walmart has adapted to international expansion carried a rather humorous photo caption. The picture was of a Walmart in Germany. The caption was, if I may paraphrase, something like "In German stores like the one above, Walmart has been forced to abandon some American innovations, like smiling cashiers."

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