Proud Americans, take note: foreigners don’t really get us. (Photo: Matthew Smith/Stocksy)
Have you ever wondered what the rest of the world thinks of the U.S.? The way we live and how we do things is perfectly normal to us. But to a foreigner coming to the States, this country might seem, well, foreign. In an attempt to see how we’re viewed around the world, we took a look at international websites advising their residents on traveling to the U.S.
The question is: are we simply misunderstood or does the rest of the world know something we don’t know?
Here’s a peek at advice for foreigners visiting America, from the baffling to the downright hilarious.
Say what? (Photo: Stefano Cavoretto/Alamy)
In the article, “Top 10 Things To Remember When Travelling To The USA,” on the Australian version of the site Lifehacker, Aussies are warned about our “peculiar American quirks” and things like sales tax (“You’ll pay more than the listed price”). But what we love the most is the author’s explanation of how we don’t understand other accents:
“Americans are friendly folks, but many of them haven’t traveled, and their only routine exposure to other accents is via South America.”
(South America? Really?)
A pint and a good debate don’t go over well in America. (Photo: Les and Dave Jacobs/Cultura/Getty Images)
A perfectly serious, yet unintentionally humorous, article on BBC America doles out advice for Brits visiting America in summer, starting with warnings for our pasty friends across the pond (”It gets hot, and the sun is strong in many places in the U.S.”). Apparently, the Brits don’t think we swear (”Regular, common-or-garden Americans typically don’t swear a lot and in the south, they might apologize even for saying “damn”).
And they are warned about how sensitive we are:
“Don’t start a discussion on politics, religion, guns, the number of Americans who don’t have passports, obesity in America or war. While many Brits can have heated discussions about such subjects and then have a pint with their debate opponent, Americans generally don’t do this, especially in social situations with people they hardly know.”
PJs in public? No problem! (Photo: HBSS/Corbis)
The Google translation of this article, “American Habits and Rituals — American Style” is comedy enough on its own. We’re not really sure what this is all about:
“Men and women are more open exchanges in the United States, dating to eat is also very common to see the movie, and warm to heterosexual intercourse is not rude. Both men and women can take the initiative to offer, usually more active males.”
This advice, on the other hand, might leave Chinese travelers feeling a little underdressed: “Anyone can wear a vest, pajamas in public.”
Americans on the go. (Photo: Simone Becchetti/Stocksy)
“American Life Etiquette” is a site full of advice for Taiwanese studying abroad. The key takeaways here: “Americans do not like silence” and “Americans are usually in a hurry.” Ok, we get that in New York. The South is another story entirely.
Who’s calling us names? (Photo: Thinkstock)
The Germans aren’t quite as kind, according to blogger Otto Buchenegger: “The main prejudice against Americans… you are superficial and you are stupid.”
And they don’t love love that can’t go au natural: according to Germany’s Federal Foreign Office: “Nude bathing and changing clothes at the beach stirs up public agitation and can lead to unpleasantnesses.”
Apparently, size does matter in America. (Photo: H. Mark Weidman Photography/Alamy)
Ok, brace yourself for this insight from Aniruddh Chaturvedi, an Indian who shares his thoughts about the United States on Quora:
“Fat people are not respected much in society. Being fat often has the same connotations as being irresponsible towards your body. If you’re thin (and tall, but not as much), people will respect you a lot more and treat you better. You will also receive better customer service if you’re well maintained.”
On the other hand, the blog RedBus2US.com, says you’ll go far by saying thank you: “People use thanks or thank you a lot here in U.S. It is common etiquette to thank someone.” Huh, that’s not the case everywhere?
RedBus2US.com also advises Indians to avoid the kind PDA that is perfectly acceptable back home: “As internationals, we are used to putting hands around shoulders of our friends in our home countries. But, from my experience, it is very different in America. A guy is not supposed to put his hand around another guy’s shoulders. It is socially not accepted. It is considered that you may be gay… It seems weird to you, when you first come to U, that why your male friends, who were here in America before you came to U.S., try to walk away from you when you get too closer to them”
Seems that Brazilians might be a little shocked by Bourbon Street in New Orleans. (Photo: Praline3001/Flickr)
This Brazilian travel agency probably hasn’t been to New Orleans at Mardi Gras and seems to think that we live in a police state: “Remember that when you are there: you can not drink on the street, it is expected that you give tips (not mandatory, but is the common), has no attendants at gas stations, and have police everywhere!”
Privacy, please. (Photo: Bandita/Flickr)
“If you want privacy (in a public restroom), no chance,” explains Romain and Austin, the blog of a French expat living in New York City. “There are no real walls, only partitions that do not even go to the ground. So you can see the shoes of your colleagues, hear all the noises … And even the doors do not help much. You can see the faces of the occupants through the slits in the doorway.”
The Rest of the World
A true culture clash. (Photo: Martin Barraud/OJO Images/Getty Images)
You’d think that, at the very least, TripAdvisor would understand America. Oh no, not at all. The site has a long list of tips for anyone visiting this country. People are told that they shouldn’t pick their nose, chew with their mouths open, or let their children defecate on the ground in public. (Seems like good advice to me.)
Apparently, our bathing habits are unusual:
“Americans typically bathe once a day in hot water and shower directly after strenuous exercise. They also use underarm deodorant: if you have not brought any with you it is recommended you buy some as hot, humid summer weather or stressful business meetings are no excuse if people smell you before they see you. Americans will back away from and not befriend or do business with people who smell bad.”
And we’re not close talkers:
“Americans usually talk to each other from a distance of about two feet; any closer is viewed as uncomfortable. (Closer contact is reserved for closer accquaintances-the barrier shall break down as they get to know you.)”
But the advice about dealing with women is just mind boggling.
“Women are legally, politically, and professionally the equal of a man in America,” the site warns. “The way a woman dresses is a sign of her style and femininity primarily. It is a very, VERY big mistake to assume anything else. If you attempt to make advances and she reacts with surprise or negativity it really, truly, undoubtedly means no, never, not going to happen.”
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