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How to Survive in a Foreign Country

byAurora Black©
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Comments (45)
by Anonymous

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by Anonymous05/17/06

Okay

Good advice, if not particularly original. Strange examples for being an "Ugly American". "Michael Fay" was a resident living with his parents in Singapore.. and if guilty of being a typical stupily behaving teenager.. was not guilty of the crimes he was accused of, which makes little or no difference in Singapore. And British hooligans stomping a Greek Store owner... well... Maybe Ugly Brits, I suppose. Your basic point, of course, is to be polite and respectful...good advice for being anywhere, even in New York.

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by Anonymous05/17/06

Good advice

Your advice should be useful to all, but especially to first-time travelers. Nowadays, in Europe, I imagine one finds more non-Americans. Thanks.

Oldguy

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by oggbashan05/17/06

Useful and worth remembering

When in Rome, live as the Romans do...

This is helpful advice that every tourist should read. I would add that tourists cannot hope to pass unremarked, even if they dress like locals. Subtle differences in body language and gesture mark the stranger. Waving cameras is a giveaway. If you live next to a world famous tourist attraction you don't notice it.

A worthwhile How-To.

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by Selena_Kitt05/17/06

Wow!

These are fantastic suggestions! I've never been out of the country (well, aside from drinking in Canada :) so I've never even thought about it... I know I'll get to Europe one of these days. Bookmarking this one. Great job!

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by sophia jane05/17/06

~

Great tips! If I ever get to leave the country, I'm going to come back and read this again!

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by impressive05/17/06

Good advice!

This is one to bookmark for future reference.

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by sherlock4005/17/06

Having been overseas several times,

I can say that this is a great how-to for the subject. For the language part I would add that speaking english louder and slower will not make the person understand you any better.

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by angelicminx05/17/06

Great piece.

Don't know where anonymous gets off with the low score. *steamed*

Good advice. I've never been out of the country, but I'd like to travel around the world one day. My dream destination would be the Maldives. ~Minx

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by Salvor-Hardon05/17/06

Working on my passport

Alrady working on gettin gmy passport and picking up some phrases in Russian, but still happy to see more hints about traveling abroad for when I do get to go.

Well done Rora

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by Anonymous05/17/06

What the....

is this the website for the forgotten planet? suggest you read up about what should go on here.

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by drksideofthemoon05/17/06

Well Done!

Well written and full of informative, and useful advice for the would be traveller.

Great job, and good luck!

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by Anonymous05/17/06

Well done...

Good piece Rora, helpful for Brits as well as Americans.
Chris

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by Anonymous05/17/06

Another approach

A bit compulsive--which is a component of the ugly American persona.
Without question preperation is worth the effort (and quite enjoyable). But "winging it" opens the journey to a myriad of adventures and possibilities. On extended foreign travel one of the first lessons entails adaptability and acceptance. One does not prepare for these lessons; they find you.

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by zeb109405/17/06

Good read 'Rora...

Amazing what some people will say when standing behind the door of anonymity! When I read this I assumed "Ugly American" was a reference to anyone, no matter the nationality, who believes themselves superior to the native inhabitants.

This was a good start to having a nice trip abroad, to go into further detail would mean taking up the task of writing a tourist guide. Like any good author the text of this referenced several good tour guide books, so why write another.

Good Job Aurora.

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by AngeloMichael05/17/06

Nice Essay

Very informative with a personal touch that avoids the sterile feel of other information articles. Also there's a sober bluntness with the cautions that travelers should take to heart. I couldn't agree more about learning at least a little of the local language in a foreign country. Many would be surprised at how far a simple "thank you", "grazie", "merci", "danka", "domo", etc. will ingratiate you with the local citizenry. Also excellent point and examples with the words needed to know to avoid complications or getting in trouble.

Once again, great essay, it has just about everything you need to know or where to find what you need to know.

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by vampiredust05/17/06

Although

I'm not American, I still thought this was pretty useful and will bookmark it for future reference. Great stuff.

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by SEVERUSMAX05/17/06

I'm going to mention this one for sure.

Damn good and easy to read How To! I don't see the problem others had with it. A very useful and even humorous essay. Not to mention practical. I'm glad that I read it. Everything in it makes perfect sense, especially about watching your back. Crime is universal, after all.

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by CrimsonMaiden05/17/06

Good essay

Very informative and helpful. I think it's a great piece for those who have never traveled abroad. Great work!

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by Munachi05/17/06

important informations

another thing i'd like to add: speak to a doctor, and in case you are going to a more exotic destination, to a specialist of the region. you'd be surprised at how many people go to high mountains without ever having heard of altitude sickness, and then wonder why they don't feel good, or who don't have the shots they need where they are... as well as the fact that many people travel without health insurance - which is not only dangerous and unresponsible, but in my opinion also not very nice toward one's family who might in the end have to pay to get you out of there if you are seriously ill.

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If I ever...

If I ever get the opportunity to travel outside of the US and/or Canada you my dear will be in my thoughts because this was a great and informative write. Thanks so much for it. I think you did a great job. :D ~ Red

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Awesome

You hit nearly every major thing a traveler needs to know, even tour guides and books don't cover as much. I've lived abroad, and traveled to and from and have encountered the "Ugly American" both American and non-American alike. A couple of other things travelers might want to learn is places to avoid when "in country", and what the customs and courtesies are, a quick stop at the Embassy or Consulate will help with that.

As for winging it, one can still do that but being prepared is the wiser choice when a person is traveling with their family and have more than just themselves to look after.

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by Anonymous05/17/06

great, may I add a couple of thoughts

The receptionist, almost always a local native, at large American corporations always speaks English. It's usually a boring job, dealing with American executives too important or busy to learn the local language. So that person is only too happy to help if asked very nicely, in a non intrusive way. I have received valuable suggestions, and have had them write a group of destination addresses on pieces of paper, with my english version on the other side.

I always encounter people who want to practice their english. Be patient, and listen very carefully. They always do better than I do in their language. And you meet some really neat people.

Be patient. It is an adventure, and whatever happens is what happens. Be patient.

Lastly, remember that people everywhere eat, drink, get colds, need clothes, and all life's needs. If they can do it, so can you. Relax and be patient.

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by Anonymous05/17/06

Go to the state dept website......

...and read up about the country you are touring. Much valuable information there.

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by Anonymous05/17/06

Another piece of advice

You'll probably get the nicer gifts for the stay-at-homes if you don't buy the cliché. If it HAS to be a cuckoo clock from the Black Forest etc., be ready to invest some money and ask around with the locals rather than simply buying the mass market stuff (usually made from plastic, electrically powered but with fake weights) regularly sold at tourist drop-offs in full knowledge of the fact that if it breaks down ten days later, the customer is unlikely to come for a refund or return. And as above, expect to get your money's worth. E.g. Solingen in Germany is well-known for its knives (as they should be, given that the town has a tradition of blade-making well into the middle-ages, being a famous sword-making center). That doesn't mean that you can't get punched-out sheet metal, though. If you want something where lifetime warranty MEANS lifetime warranty, expect to spend something. In general, avoid little booths and stands clustered around tourist attractions and see if you can hit the downtown shopping area existing in many cities. If you buy where the locals buy, you aren't totally safe from trash, but the probability is lower where vendors have to count on customers being ready to make use of their warranty.
Lastly, some of the most interesting things to buy can't be taken home: When in Rome, eat as the Romans do -you have the same ol' same ol' again when you return home. German tourists are infamous for demanding "Eisbein" (pork knuckle) in the middle of the tropics.

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by Anonymous05/17/06

americans abroad

bet advice for all americans going abroad
STAY AT HOME
ESPECIALLY ALL MEMBERS OF THE MILITERY

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by hyulhyulhyul05/18/06

Nicely done

Very well written and informative. In some countries, getting your prescriptions filled might be a problem and travelers should make sure that they take their medicines with them and keep a reserve in a safe place. Most of the problems you mentioned about crime and safety issues are not a major concern in either Taiwan or the big cities of mainland China. In the rest of Asia, watch out.

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by FallingToFly05/18/06

Nicely done

Very informative, and down to earth. I truly enjoyed reading it, for the simple fact of its common sense. Common sense is a rare commodity in the world lately... speaking of which: why on earth are there trolls in the How To section? I though they already knew everything. :rollseyes:

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by don8765405/18/06

Good, but could be better

So much for bullshit. I've been to several foreign countries and the only ones I enjoyed spoke English. That way one never has a problem in trying to flirt or pick-up some extra pussy on the side, as most English speaking countries also have a culture that is similar to ours. If you manage to fuck a foreign girl that does not speak English well and by chance you knock her up, you are "stuck" for the next 20 years or so while the baby is growing up with a dual culture in your bedroom and rest of your house. I know....I've been there!

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by damppanties05/19/06

Very helpful. Well done!

Rora, this is an excellent guide. I agree it was a bit biased towards the US citizens, especially where you talked of the passport / documents, but there was plenty of valuable information for travelers from other countries too. I'm planning a trip in a few months and this is like a Godsend. Thanks for writing it!

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by History Nut05/19/06

Excelent advice

As someone who travels internationally, I find all that you suggest to be excellent.

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by Boxlicker10105/20/06

Interesting and informative

If I traveled to Europe, I would print it anf take it with me. Personally, the only country I travel in, besides the USA, is the Philippines. My wife was born there so I don't have to worry much about customs, etc. Our trips tend to be family visits, sometimes with a business aspect. I can't help looking like a tourist, because I am an American and all around me are Filipinos.

By the way, in the book "The Ugly American", the title character was one of the good guys who helped some of the people in rural Indochina solve some of their problems. The bad guys were members of the USA Dept. of State.

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by 05/20/06

Thoughtful, helpful and thorough

And as always, your writing style flows so that it's easy to read.

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by My Erotic Trail05/21/06

excellent

I have traveled to other countries and have found that most are eager to see Americans. (Central America, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia) but found (England, France and the Middle East) not to receptive to Americans. Military wise any way.

But I did note that your essay is right on, very well written and very true. Thanks for the read and have a quality day~ Art

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Awesome

Thanks for the advice! I'm planning on spending my semester abroad in Europe (Italy and/or Spain) soon, although I'm a language major, so the language barrier won't be a problem. But, it HAS been a while since I've traveled abroad, so it's good to know about what I need to do as far as the necessary documents. Thanks again!

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by McKenna05/24/06

Excellent Advice!

Very good read, Aurora. Informative, accurate, up-to-date. I second the tip for Lonely Planet or Rough Guide books; they are invaluable and very accurate. I also second the advice about leaving the "ugly American" at home on travels abroad. I've been embarrassed more than once by my countrymen; it makes me tempted to wear a "I'm from Canada" t-shirt. Oh wait, no political/flags/etc. on my t-shirts, right?! ;-)

Nicely done!

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by 05/24/06

Excellent Advice

Aurora and written well. A must read if you travel abroad.

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by cherries_on_snow05/25/06

Awesome advice

Especially the while you're there section. Pack everything but the ugly American attitude if possible (speaking as an American who had to work to lose hers while living elsewhere).

Thanks for your candor and common sense, Aurora. =D

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by kbate05/31/06

Well Written

I have traveled to perhaps 60 countries, and I am glad to see you included the single most important thing I have learned:

Learn the basics in the language of the country you are visiting. Nothing is more important than showing you tried.
(they know you don't speak Greek - but at least tell them that in Greek)

Well done and well worth the five.

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by lindiana06/05/06

While in Paris...

Do I really need to know more than 'voulez vous couchez avec moi c'est soir?'

Be honest.

And good luck.

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by MissBri06/08/06

~

Great job, hon; and some wonderful tips, including most things I would have mentioned if I'd written this and more. ^_^

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by Anonymous06/09/06

Did not read the story

but gave you a 5.

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by temptanddestroy08/20/06

A Brit's view

I really like meeting Americans in the U.K (well, mostly). You can't get friendlier customers and a little effort is really appreciated. I may be in the minority here but I like your slight lack of humility; it's refreshing.

The only thing I wanted to add to this How To was that maybe some of you should tone down your religion. I'm not criticising your faith! It's just that over here it's not something we talk about with strangers. Saying "God bless you" in a big booming voice will cause unspoken offence in the majority of people.

Oh and bum bags (fanny packs)? Nooooo

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by Skip1934a10/05/06

Just happened onto this

As I was slowly gliding throug your stories, the title struck me because I have traveled extensively, too. Your advice is right on, and it isn't confinedx to vacation travel, either.

Well done, girl. A feather in your cao, for sure.

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by Anonymous04/04/08

comment

Great advise!

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by roomfor1more04/26/12

Interesting

When my wife and I travel we like to play, "Spot the American," and it is fun because Americans stand out in a crowd. For example, when we were in Israel a group of Americans were easy to spot because they were flashing their money in public. In the UK they are easy to spot because they whine about how long they have to stand in a queue and argue about customer service. Americans are clueless that Brits have no idea what good customer service is and arguing with the individual is pointless. Finally in international airports Americans are easy to spot because they like to walk around with their passports in their hands. The point I am trying to make here, Americans do stand out in a crowd because their behavior gives them away and many have not learnt how to protect themselves while travelling.

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