Avoid reputation of the "Ugly American", travelling outside of the states

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Stella, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. Stella macrumors 604

    Stella

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    #1
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai...ur16.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/16/ixworld.html

    'Speak softly, don't argue and slow down'
    By Philip Sherwell
    (Filed: 16/04/2006)

    Loud and brash, in gawdy garb and baseball caps, more than three million of them flock to our shores every year. Shuffling between tourist sites or preparing to negotiate a business deal, they bemoan the failings of the world outside the United States.

    The reputation of the "Ugly American" abroad is not, however, just some cruel stereotype, but - according to the American government itself - worryingly accurate. Now, the State Department in Washington has joined forces with American industry to plan an image make-over by issuing guides for Americans travelling overseas on how to behave.


    'Ugly American' abroad: Worryingly accurate
    Under a programme starting next month, several leading US companies will give employees heading abroad a "World Citizens Guide" featuring 16 etiquette tips on how they can help improve America's battered international image.

    Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA), a non-profit group funded by big American companies, has also met Karen Hughes, the head of public diplomacy at the State Department, to discuss issuing the guide with every new US passport. The goal is to create an army of civilian ambassadors.

    The guide offers a series of "simple suggestions" under the slogan, "Help your country while you travel for your company". The advice targets a series of common American traits and includes:

    • Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. (In many countries, any form of boasting is considered very rude. Talking about wealth, power or status - corporate or personal - can create resentment.)

    • Listen at least as much as you talk. (By all means, talk about America and your life in our country. But also ask people you're visiting about themselves and their way of life.)

    • Save the lectures for your kids. (Whatever your subject of discussion, let it be a discussion not a lecture. Justified or not, the US is seen as imposing its will on the world.)

    • Think a little locally. (Try to find a few topics that are important in the local popular culture. Remember, most people in the world have little or no interest in the World Series or the Super Bowl. What we call "soccer" is football everywhere else. And it's the most popular sport on the planet.)

    • Slow down. (We talk fast, eat fast, move fast, live fast. Many cultures do not.)

    • Speak lower and slower. (A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening.)

    • Your religion is your religion and not necessarily theirs. (Religion is usually considered deeply personal, not a subject for public discussions.)

    • If you talk politics, talk - don't argue. (Steer clear of arguments about American politics, even if someone is attacking US politicians or policies. Agree to disagree.)

    Keith Reinhard, one of New York's top advertising executives, who heads BDA, said: "Surveys consistently show that Americans are viewed as arrogant, insensitive, over-materialistic and ignorant about local values. That, in short, is the image of the Ugly American abroad and we want to change it."

    The guide also offers tips on the dangers of dressing too casually, the pluses of learning a few words of the local language, use of hand gestures and even map-reading.

    Of course, US foreign policy - and perceptions of it - currently has the biggest impact on the image of Americans abroad. President George W Bush recognised this when he appointed Ms Hughes, a close confidante, to head the country's public diplomacy push. But Mr Reinhard and his colleagues are convinced that individual Americans can also make a difference.

    They also want to highlight the positives in foreigners' impression of the US as a land of opportunity, freedom, diversity and "can-do spirit" by boosting business and domestic travel to America.

    "In many parts of the world, America is not getting the benefit of the doubt right now. People prefer to dump on us instead. But for many people, corporate America is their main point of contact, and that's where we come in."

    Business for Diplomatic Action, which was formed in 2004, has already distributed 200,000 -passport-sized guides tailored to college students going abroad.

    The group's next target is to raise funding for a colourful pictorial World Citizen's Guide For Kids for children on school or youth group trips. However, a spokesman for the National Tourism Agency for Britain said last night: "Americans have a certain reputation which, for the majority, is undeserved. These guidelines sound like good common sense but they're not something the majority of our American visitors need. As tourists, they're out to enjoy themselves and have a good time. We continue to welcome them."
     
  2. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040

    dornoforpyros

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    #2
    Well this is defiantly a step in the right direction.
     
  3. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #3
    On the other hand, there was this piece on the BBC's website recently about:



    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4881474.stm

    There are some big chips on some people's shoulders judging by some of the replies.
     
  4. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #4
    I can honestly say that I can't recall the last time I met an obnoxious American tourist - and I see a fair number. To be honest, it bugs me more when they do just talk generally. The number, who when you ask where they're from, just say the US is huge - I can tell that, I was wondering where in the US!

    British tourists bother me far more when I'm abroad - going to parts of the Costa del Sol (or Orlando) where 'English pubs' and 'pie and chips' are the order of the day drive me batty. As well as those who just shout in louder English rather than attempting to speak the local language - even if it's just asking for the bill or saying thankyou.

    At the Grand Canyon this year, we were at a beautiful part of the South Rim where most sounds were swallowed by the canyon and it was glorious until a family of Brits turned up and started screeching about Tesco (a UK supermarket) :rolleyes:
     
  5. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

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    #5
    Go Canadian! I remember hearing a couple of years ago about a company that was selling a package to help Americans look like Canadians when they go abroad. It included a T-shirt with the Canadian flag, a patch for your backpack, a sticker, a pin, and maybe a few other things.
     
  6. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040

    dornoforpyros

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    #6
    I live in a resort town, I've met some great americans, australians, brits, scotish and a grab bag of many other countries.

    I've also met ***holes from everyone of those countries. I think it more has to do with the way people are traveling than their country of origin. For instance backpackers & ski bums tend to be very laid back and cool. Where as the tourist who come with a tour group and every minute of their vacation has planed out before tend to treat everyone they meet as an employee there to serve them.

    Then again, when you book your vacation at the mall why would you expect anything less?
     
  7. Stella thread starter macrumors 604

    Stella

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    #7
    I remember travelling to Spain, the town was a popular tourist destination, quite a number of years back. I wanted to eat Spanish food - I was in another country, so I wanted to try their foods. Could I? Like hell - it was very difficult because the majority of foods were British! I can eat British food anytime, just this once I want to try the local food. It was very, very sad.

    I feel sorry ( pity ) these people who travel to a foreign country and refuse to try the local foods etc.. Its such a wasted opportunity.

    Anyway, slight(ly) off topic!

    So, people who come to other countries and try to impose their believes on to the locals... won't work, you have to *integrate*. Visiting / living in other countries is not a right, its a privilege, something that many people forget. When all is said and done, you'll be better off for it - you'll experience more than you would have otherwise.
     
  8. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #8
    No question, next time I'm in the UK, I'm going to look up Martin in Chesterfield!
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #9
    You've put your finger on it, I think. Tourists the world over tend to be obnoxious, in a manner. They're in a hurry, they're excited and uncomfortable about their unfamiliar surroundings, they're speaking in a foreign tongue, and have the nasty habit of not dressing like locals. They naturally stand out. Anyone who doesn't think this is a universal phenomenon hasn't sat in restaurant with a group of German tourists. They sound like they're at the next table, even though they're on the other side of the restaurant. It's not that they're particular loud, only that four people speaking in a normal tone of voice in German really catches your ear in Los Angeles.

    Of course, German tourists really are obnoxious. Everybody knows that. ;)
     
  10. devilot Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    #10
    Lucky for me and my family I guess... people all around the world seem to see 'color' before Nationality. :rolleyes:

    We still get people screeching, "Koh-neeeee-cheeee-wah!" at us... even after we quietly and politely state that we're not Japanese and that we speak English.
     
  11. Stella thread starter macrumors 604

    Stella

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    #11
    Racism is sad and there is absolutely no need for it.

    Those who are racist and look in the mirror and realise / ask themselves:
    - they are not superior
    - why are they so insecure?
    - grow up, mature, and be quick about it
     
  12. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #12
    I once saw a couple of young female German tourists humping a statue of Christ in a cathedral in Prague, so, uh, yeah...
     
  13. StarbucksSam macrumors 65816

    StarbucksSam

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    #13
    I think that having never traveled outside of North America, I'm going to be in for a rude awakening this summer in London. I mean, I don't dress like a slob. You will rarely if ever see me in a tee-shirt or sneakers, but I don't think I'm going to blend in very well...

    Any tips for me there?
     
  14. Stella thread starter macrumors 604

    Stella

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    #14
    Dress casually and you'll be ok.

    Whilst in UK, I suggest you take the opportunity to visit other places outside of London.. London isn't everything, merely a small part of the country.
     
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #15
    Act like you're visiting other peoples' homes and not Disneyland and you'll be fine.


    Lethal
     
  16. Stella thread starter macrumors 604

    Stella

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    #16
    Do what the article recommends :-D There are some really good gems in there...

    Oh, don't forget your Canadian flag too :p
     
  17. StarbucksSam macrumors 65816

    StarbucksSam

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    #17
    Stella and Lethal, thanks for your input. I don't know how much I'll be able to see outside of London, I am going through a program that has a law internship set up for me. Not sure where... but it's in London.

    I'll be dressed in business attire during the day. Are polos and nice jeans appropriate for evening wear?

    I never act like I'm visiting Disneyland..... I think that common decorum should get me through that part. You think I'll do okay?
     
  18. UKnjb macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

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    #18
    I answer as a 100% born-and-bred Englishman. It's not the dress (dress according to your instincts) - it's all about attitude. From the time you get off the airoplane, you will be inherently welcomed - as long as you have the right attitude. We like people. Your word - decorum - will get you such a long way here. I've read many of your posts and you seem to have that in spades. Canadian is (stereotypically), IMO, synonymous with British and you have an advantage of fitting in just because of that.

    Applespider was so correct that we (the Brits) have nothing to be proud of when we are visitors/tourists ourselves. So don't be defensive.

    You'll do just fine here. Bring your polos, your jeans and whatever and your sense of humour (you'll need that) and you will have a great time. And if you don't give me a shout and I will do all that I can to help!
     
  19. fitinferno macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Ahh, this is said so well. Perfectly explains what tourists can expect.

    Interestingly enough, the most hatred I've come across about being an American in the UK has been when I've gone back to visit the US :eek: It made me wish I was not back visiting! I've been living here (London) since 2003 and have unintentionally picked up the accent and a few phrases a slight bit. Most ppl who don't know I'm from America seem to think I'm from Canada (or Ireland). I explain I'm from Chicago but have been here for a while, and we get on well. But Americans who know I'm American are vicious. I get told on a regular basis by Americans to "speak American."

    Better yet are the Americans who come to my university to study for a year out from their own and tell me about what a better decision it would've been had I chosen to stay in America for my studies. Usually with me having to defend why I wanted to study here. *sigh*

    The most the Brits have given me is questions about why I elected Bush yet again. When I profess that I'm one of the weird Nader voting ppl we have a good conversation bashing both Blair and Bush :)
     
  20. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #20
    That rarely happens in the US. It happens in Europe and Australia, though. People just think that all Chinese people must be from China, so they start talking to me in Mandarin. Firstly, I speak English as my first language. Secondly, I speak Cantonese as my 2nd. :p

    Then you don't travel enough. :p I generally find female American tourists more ignorant than the male tourists. It really annoys me when an American says something like, "It was really difficult travelling in Korea. None of them speak english or anything!" As if they didn't expect Koreans to speak........oh......I don't know........KOREAN as their first language. Dumb American girl. That was last week, btw. I hear this sort of thing more from girls than guys. Guys tend to clue in a bit faster: "Ok Todd (as American a name as you can get :p ), remember that in Korea, Koreans speak korean."
     
  21. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #21
    If you dress like a Canadian, even if you dress nicely, you'll still stick out. ;)

    I'm from the t-dot and lived in London as well, and if you wanna dress and blend in in england, the best way to dress is to wear jeans and shirts that look worn out and dirty. :p No, seriously, American and Canadian clothes and t-shirts look way too bright, shiny and new, even when you buy the stuff that has the "worn in" look. When Londoners buy clothing that has that look, it really does look worn in. :D

    And remember the denim. Jeans are useful there. They never wear shorts either, and could spot a tourist simply by spotting their shorts.

    In terms of attitude, be yourself. They'll actually find it refreshing when they find out that you're polite and modest when discussing your life, Canada, and everything else. It's different for them, but not necessarily in a bad way. I do love London. :)
     
  22. fitinferno macrumors 6502

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    #22
    My tip (a very random one) is that many of the bus stops have maps on them. If you're in an area that you feel is somewhere relatively close to what you're trying to find, often the bus map will have that landmark on it so it's worth checking the busstop before trying to flag someone down to ask about it. Furthermore, if you have a problem with finding something, there are a lot of police officers policing heavy traffic tourist points. They're always great ppl to ask about stuff like that.

    If you just dress relatively normal, the pickpocketers are more likely to go after the ppl proudly wearing their bumbugs & super bright colours :p
     
  23. 2nyRiggz macrumors 603

    2nyRiggz

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    #23
    I get this all the time..tourist think i'm mexican(i guess cuz i worked in a mexican res.) and try to speak spanish to me....i just give them the dumb look.


    Bless
     
  24. StarbucksSam macrumors 65816

    StarbucksSam

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    #24
    Thank you for that very helpful blurb. Just for the record, I'm actually American, not Canadian... haha. You like people in the UK. I'm glad. I tend not to like people. Just kidding. Yeah, I'm going to need my sense of humor. Can someone please tell me what a chav is, by the way? I keep hearing that term.

    You're probably right in saying that Americans dislike other people more than other people dislike Americans. I don't know that for a fact, but I would suspect it.

    I tend to wear brightly colored polos.. or should I say "brightly coloured polos". I do, however, employ denim regularly. I never wear shorts, even when it's bloody 30 degrees celcius! When do you say "bloody"? I actually don't wear shorts because I hate my legs. Not that I like shorts..... but I hate my legs more than I dislike shorts.

    Are the police there friendly? Here we tend to fear them and stay away from them. Thanks for the map tip -- that's great to know. I'll probably rarely be alone, which is good. I'm not very good at crossing streets.

    Ooh. I just realized something - one must look the OTHER way when crossing the street, right?

    Thanks for all of your helpful input.
     
  25. fitinferno macrumors 6502

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    #25
    The police are overall friendly. Even when they aren't, they'll answer the question (and usually much more accurately than other ppl).

    At most crosses here, there are actually paintings on the road which will tell you which way to look. Helpful, as often you might come to roadways which are one way and such. Other way in general, but you should still look both ways, though, just in case someone's driving the wrong way.
     

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