Do you ever get those friends who come back from a holiday to France or Japan or Brazil suntanned and covered in novelty souvenirs, but storm about in a rage complaining about how ‘rude’ the locals were?
Next time you do, ask them if they picked up any Portuguese/French/Japanese on their trip. Go on. I dare you.
It may be difficult to believe, but there are some people who go into a foreign country not knowing a word of a language or anything of the customs, expecting everyone to be of the same strain of generic white American that they see at home, except maybe wearing berets or something.
This is the stigma most associated with casual tourists. It’s the reason why people who consider themselves real travelers hate being associated with tourists. It’s a whole lot of bull that’s aggravating for everyone everywhere. And most of it stems from never bothering to learn a language.
It’s not that difficult to learn few basic phrases. Hello, sorry, thank you, please, goodbye. Expecting everyone to speak English wherever you go is like me expecting everyone to speak Korean here. It’s a nice surprise if they do, but you shouldn’t walk in with the assumption that they will, and getting pissed at them because they don’t is pointless and rude.
Actually, learning a new language can be fun, and if you’re going into a country after having studied a language for some time, you’re going to find that your trip is more rewarding and educational than it ever could have been otherwise.
Part of this is why I’ve decided to start writing posts containing all of the basics of different languages. I’ll try to cover basic grammatical structure, greetings, common sayings, and other key components.
I’ll also be writing posts focused on manners and customs, and how not to look like ‘that American dumbfuck’ while eating, greeting, and meeting [as well as other things]. [I’ll start with Korea, of course, but you can send me ideas for others countries and languages in the comments if you’d like.]
Most of these posts will be based on research/friends rather than actual personal experience, but I’ll do my best to make comprehensive posts that cover enough material to help you as you head out on your next trip.
That’s really it for today! This turned into kind of a huge advertisement for a blog that you’re already reading, but I’m looking forward to putting all of this material together, and to your suggestions as well.
Happy Sunday, and see you next time!
The Sweater Giraffe