When Foreigners Meet the US…

Haha!

Okay.  Let me backtrack.

I am sure that each of us, if we have traveled outside of the United States, could give a short synopsis of what we observed, how things were different, what we liked, and what we didn’t like in each foreign country that we visited.  Sometimes the list will be longer for the positives.  Sometimes for the negatives.  And, sometimes, the list will be split down the middle.  Each country is unique and different.  And not ours.  Therefore, the list and experiences go on and on and on.

On Yahoo, they posted an article about other visitors to the US, and their observations.  I loved reading what someone from each different country had to say about his/her observations in the United States.  I must say, however, that I don’t quite think that I would open the refrigerator at a stranger’s house.  Now, if I were at a friend’s house, that’s a different story.

Anyhow, I hope that you enjoy the read.  Before you start, however, I will start with a few of my fun observations of my short visits to other countries, too.

1.  Mexico—While we were being all touristy and stuff on our honeymoon, we took a dune buggy ride into some very rural back villages.  Villages, if that is what you can call them.  We passed rivers where women were washing clothes before we made a stop at a very small village store (store being used lightly).  At the store I noticed that, although it was the middle of the day, most children were roaming around instead of being at school.  Therefore I asked, “What time do you guys go to school?”  The answer, “Our teacher travels into our village two days a week.  That’s when we go to school.”

I absolutely LOVE Mexico, but at that moment I realized education is a valued privilege in so many parts of the world.  These kids, I am more than sure, when those two days of school rolled around, were eager participants to attend and happy to learn.

As we drove off, I left thinking, “Man, there is so much I could learn from those kids in regards to appreciation.”

2.  Italy (Venice)—So, we had just traveled all over Venice and came to an opening.  It’s largely crowded islands with many narrow passages, bridges, and, of course, spectacular canals.  Venice, itself, is a blog posting on its own, but as we came into this slightly larger opening, I was enthralled.  Laundry hung out windows, children played football in their miniscule space between walls, tourists, and this one, lone cafe.

While dodging the children’s football, we were so happy to find this cafe that we proceeded to occupy one of the few tables, making ourselves comfortable, and ordering, happily.  After all, we were in Venice, Italy.  Happiness and good coffee both abound!

Now, you need to understand that we (2 Americans) were in Italy with:  1 Venezuelan, 1 Pole, 1 Norwegian, and 1 Sri Lankan.  Despite our varied countries backgrounds, we all ordered the same drink and in unison said, “6 Lattes, please!”

Minutes later our waiter brought a tray out to us, but we were sure that he had to be at the wrong table.  After all, we had said, “Lattes!”  And what was coming toward us were tall glasses of frothing milk.

Ummm…what would we do?  Our Norwegian friend took charge, “Sir, we ordered Lattes.”

Waiter—blank stare.  “These are lattes.”

And that’s when it hit us, “Caffe lattes,” after all, we were in Italy.  Home of some of coffee’s finest.

But, of course being in Italy, everything ended happily anyway.  Our waiter graciously took our frothing milk back and added a shot of espresso to each just for our drinking pleasure.

What did we learn?  While in Italy, make sure you order caffe with your latte!

3.  Germany—Being neighbors with Germany, we have actually spent quite a bit of time there.  When we first moved to Poland the borders were still closed.  So, if we flew into Berlin, we traveled to Poland by train, which meant we had to make sure that we had our passports available and handy at the German/Polish border.

First we had to get the “All clear” from the German border patrol.  But that wasn’t all, then we had to get the same “All clear” from the Polish border patrol.

It’s not that it was a problem, but it was always time consuming.  And, because we were usually coming from America, we always had our bulging luggage with us.  Which means that the German border patrol would find our large, overstuffed suitcases oddities (most people travel the trains with very light luggage or backpacker packs).  Hence a very thorough check of each suitcase in our possession took place.  And just as the German border patrol would give the “All clear” on our luggage, the Polish border patrol would come by and examine our luggage, too.

Also, because the borders were closed, it was always interesting as you watched the border patrol agents carefully exam each passport.  Our across the lane neighbor, once, obviously did not have a passport or name pleasing to the agents as he was escorted from the train when his did not receive the “All clear”.  Let me say, I am glad my passport or name was always authentic and in good standing.

Anyhow, back to Germany.  So not only did we fly into Berlin, we would also drive through Germany if going to countries such as Austria or Italy.  On one trip through Germany our daughter got violently ill.  We actually thought she had appendicitis.  We typed “hospital” on our GPS and found one just miles away.  While they ran all of their tests on Adelyne, I went to the little cafe to get something to drink.  Low and behold, in the German hospital cafe, they were serving beer.

Now, I was surprised.  But should I have been?

What did I learn in Germany?  Octoberfest occurs everywhere (smile and wink), and, I guess, beer will make you feel better.

4.  Poland—It’s fitting I mention Poland since we were once newbies there.  Let’s see.  I’m loud.  And we were on a tram (public trolley-type enclosed car—maybe known as light rail in the States).  There was something funny said, and I belly laughed!  All eyes on the tram.  On me.  Not a single smile but mine and my friend’s.  It’s then that I noticed the tram.  Complete silence.  Not a single sound.

I learned my lesson that day.  When entering a Polish tram, you sit, preferably next to the window, with or without a book, and either A. Read your book or B. Stare out the window of the tram.  C Never takes place:  C.  Talk and laugh hysterically.  Because.  Because nothing on a tram is worth discussing or funny (smile and wink 2).

No.  Joking.  I definitely learned that day that I, most VERY likely, was the perfect depiction of “Loud American” to every Polish passenger on that tram.  Funny thing, though, my loud friend was not American (and obviously not Polish).  Had the passengers of the tram known that it would have rocked their socks.  Another loud culture out there in the world?  Impossible!

What did I learn, for real, that day on the Polish tram?  That I could turn my volume button down a few notches and not find the world quite as funny.  No.  Kidding again.  I learned that just because it’s your nature to be loud or funny, you can definitely be respectful of where you are and the people around you.  You don’t have to be as loud as you find the situation.  Learning about another culture doesn’t mean that you have to give up who you are.  It means that you are respectful of where you are and who you are with.

Well, enough of my observations.  Finally, here you go, the link to the Yahoo article.  I hope that you enjoy reading the observations of others as much as I did!

Yahoo article:  Don’t Drink the Water: Translated Travel Tips for Coming to America:

http://travel.yahoo.com/blogs/compass/don-t-drink-water-visitors-travel-tips-coming-194949993.html

2 thoughts on “When Foreigners Meet the US…

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