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Cultural help stuffs:

 1 Sakan4k, Sat, 28th May '11 11:54:30 AM from The Other Rainforest
Wasn't sure where to put this, but...

I'm going on a trip in a few weeks to Iceland, the United Kingdom, and France, and I was wondering if some Tropers would be kind enough to help me with cultural norms that differ from the USA's (such as proper dining etiquette, possibly rude hand gestures to avoid, how to order in a pub, etc). I hate to step on people's toes and I especially would hate to look like a conceited American. Speaking of looks, aside from a camera, what would give me away as a tourist?

Edit: Another important question: WHERE DO I BUY JAFFA CAKES?! Are they commonly available at any grocery?

edited 28th May '11 12:15:34 PM by Sakan4k

 2 Usht, Sat, 28th May '11 12:07:31 PM from an arbitrary view point.
Lv. 3 Genasi Wizard
If there's one thing I've learned from traveling as an American, the first thing that gives you away as an obnoxious American is being LOUD. So long as you keep your voice down, that should avoid most of the looks that people can possibly give you. Beyond that? Eh, depends on the country.
The thing about making witty signature lines is that it first needs to actually be witty.
 3 Sakan4k, Sat, 28th May '11 12:11:10 PM from The Other Rainforest
I'm fairly quiet and I hate making a spectacle of myself, so I guess I've got that part covered :)

 4 Bobby G, Sat, 28th May '11 1:16:13 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
UK troper here. I'm not sure how dining etiquette here differs from in the US.

To order drinks from a British pub, you just stand at the bar and wait to be served. Generally, bar staff will try to serve those who've been waiting the longest first, though they'll sometimes make exceptions for regulars or people who catch their eye.

Rude hand gestures... the v-sign springs to mind. Basically, if your palm is facing outward it's a peace sign like in America, but if the back of your hand is facing outwards, it's the same as flipping the bird.

The most likely thing to give you away as a tourist is your accent, but in my experience most people like tourists so long as they're polite and respect local customs, so I don't think that'd be a problem.

You can buy Jaffa cakes here from most major supermarkets.
 5 Aondeug, Sat, 28th May '11 1:23:10 PM from  Our Dreams
Oh My
Being loud? Whelp I'm fucked in that regard...I've been told that even when I try I come off as shouting...That or being too quiet...

I HAVE TROUBLE CONTROLLING THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE. Seriously. I do.
If someone wants to accuse us of eating coconut shells, then that's their business. We know what we're doing. - Achaan Chah
 6 joeyjojo, Sat, 28th May '11 3:08:24 PM from The Magic Land Of Oz Relationship Status: Get out of here, STALKER
Storm the bastille!
Jaffa Cakes despite their name are found in the biscuit section. This actually source of an ongoing debate.
Mn Hovercraft st plen de nguills

 7 Sakan4k, Sat, 28th May '11 6:37:12 PM from The Other Rainforest
Yes, I have heard of this debate. They're cakes for tax purposes only.

 8 Game Chainsaw, Sat, 28th May '11 6:42:13 PM from sunshine and rainbows!
The Shadows Devour You.
Remember the Brits drive on the left! tongue
 9 Sakan4k, Sat, 28th May '11 9:37:10 PM from The Other Rainforest
I'm fairly sure most, if not all Americans know that. And I'm not going to be doing any of the driving, as much as I'd like to. Not to mention, that wasn't really along the lines of social Faux Pas...

 10 Enkufka, Sat, 28th May '11 10:28:21 PM from Bay of White fish
Wandering Student ಠ_ಠ
Just to delve into stereoypes for a moment, THE QUEUE IS GOD.

But, always call the bathroom a lavatory, never toilet.

I don't know if you're meeting any italians, but if you do, and you need to signal 5, never use all fingers with the palm outwards. its like the v-sign discussed above.

That's all I can think of from watching QI...
Very big Daydream Believer.

"That's not knowledge, that's a crapshoot!" -Al Murray

"Welcome to QI" -Stephen Fry
Is that cake frosting?
I don't know if you're meeting any italians, but if you do, and you need to signal 5, never use all fingers with the palm outwards. its like the v-sign discussed above.
Uh, I am an Italian and I never knew that — actually, that's precisely the normal way in which I have always seen people signaling 5. Perhaps that's a matter of regional differences?

I have been in England, and I think that you should not have any problem there — you will be recognized as a tourist, and any minor faux pas you will end making will be understood and forgiven (as long as you don't go out of your way to be obnoxious, of course).

The only thing I found a little bizarre about England was that waitresses kept calling me "sweetie". It sounded oddly personal to me, but eh, no harm done. smile
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Yes, I have heard of this debate. They're cakes for tax purposes only.

They're cakes because they go hard when they go stale. Biscuits go soft.
Profile | Talk to Me | Note: Check your irony detector before replying.
I don't know if you're meeting any italians, but if you do, and you need to signal 5, never use all fingers with the palm outwards. its like the v-sign discussed above.

I think you mean Greeks.

 14 Enkufka, Sun, 29th May '11 12:30:03 AM from Bay of White fish
Wandering Student ಠ_ಠ
Curse my stupidity of cultures which are not midwestern american...
Very big Daydream Believer.

"That's not knowledge, that's a crapshoot!" -Al Murray

"Welcome to QI" -Stephen Fry
 15 The Bat Pencil, Sun, 29th May '11 4:43:10 AM from Glasgow, Scotland Relationship Status: I'm just a hunk-a, hunk-a burnin' love
Don't confuse England with Britain when you're over here. President Obama made that error a few times when he was visiting.
I couldn't possibly comment.
Is that cake frosting?
If you happen to visit Ireland, do not absolutely confuse it with the United Kingdom. That's just Not Done.

And if you visit Northern Ireland, it's probably better if you avoid the topic of nationalities and countries altogether while you are there.

edited 29th May '11 5:43:59 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Pro-Freedom Fanatic
Americans? Loud?

You have not been to Spain, I reckon. They're massively loudER.

edited 29th May '11 6:31:56 AM by SavageHeathen

You exist because we allow it and you will end because we demand it.
 18 Bobby G, Sun, 29th May '11 7:02:01 AM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
But, always call the bathroom a lavatory, never toilet.

Where is this? In Britain, they say "toilet".

I think it might be one of those class-indicative words, though. "Toilet" probably marks you as middle-class. Not sure about "lavatory".

Just don't say "bathroom" or "WC", because nobody calls a lavatory that in Britain.
 19 The Bat Pencil, Sun, 29th May '11 7:10:38 AM from Glasgow, Scotland Relationship Status: I'm just a hunk-a, hunk-a burnin' love
[up] Bathroom, toilet and lavvy are all used interchangably where I come from.
I couldn't possibly comment.
This seems an appropriate enough thread, so let me ask this question:

Is clearing your plate or leaving some food on your plate the polite option?

 
Is that cake frosting?
[up] Where I come from, the polite option is to clear your plate, and when — and it will happen — the guest offers you some more, accept a little. Or a lot, if you want to make an impression. tongue
But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 22 Sakan4k, Sun, 29th May '11 1:24:34 PM from The Other Rainforest
I've got a fair amount of the jargon down, but thank you all for the advice!

 23 The Bat Pencil, Sun, 29th May '11 2:11:03 PM from Glasgow, Scotland Relationship Status: I'm just a hunk-a, hunk-a burnin' love
Oh yeah, and try and get yourself an Irn-Bru if the option arises while you're in the UK. Always worth a recommendation.
I couldn't possibly comment.
The "proper" method of handling one's cutlery is different in the UK than in the US (hold the fork in the left hand, knife in the right, don't swap the fork from one to the other and don't put the knife down) but unless you're eating in the Ritz no-one will really care, I think. Oh, and you don't need to tip as much.

Look, we've all seen American TV; we know you're foreign, but that's not your fault. grin

As for Jaffa Cakes, not only do all the supermarkets sell 'em, they sell different brands and different flavours.

The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.
Total posts: 24
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