To all US-ers: European Faux Pas?

  1. So we always hear about how americans make faux pas in Europe, being reputedly too loud and forward. In addition we see how the "french women" are described role models in articles and the "european way" and european designer and cultural tied goods in addition to proper etiquette (f.ex. on nanny 911 and similar shows) is popular, it seems like the europeans act perfectly in every way and cannot go wrong in america. So, there being a lot of americans on the forum, can you plase elaborate on the European tourist faux pas you've experienced? I'm not thinking of things you find quirky about Europe in europe, but actual incidents happening in the US involving europeans?

    Id love to hear the other side of things! Bring out the dirt on the european tourists. ;)
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  3. Europeans are notorious cheapskates when it comes to tipping. Some don't realize the tip is not included in your restaurant bill but others pretend they don't know that it's customary to tip in the US just because they are cheap.

    I find European men to be pretty sexually aggressive. While I am used to it in Europe I believe they should make an effort to conform to the US norms when in the States. I know a group of executives who bought some top of the line lingerie for their assistant when she got married. No one was shocked in the least and the girl loved her gift! But I don't expect my boss to tell me I have a nice figure at work in the US. Crosses the line I think.
  4. I've found some British tourists to be crass, as in they're too loud and pushy (same complaints as Americans I guess :p). Also when you're trying to shop it seems Europeans (and those from Middle East as well) move in groups and block entire sections or aisles. They also can be really competitive when shopping and usually come off as being a bit rude to the salepeople. Italians/Mediterranean inhabitants tend to stick out because their clothes are often brighter and tighter than the American norm. It does seem universal to me though that all European tourists wear hideous shoes (Granted those last couple are not faux pas as much as observations).
  5. The tipping thing really irks me. When you visit a country you are supposed to follow the norms/customs of the country. Whenever I travel anywhere I look up what rules of etiquette to follow, etc.
    I think it's just plain cheap and rude when people "pretend" to not know that they need to tip!
  6. I think it depends more on the individual than which country they're from. There's good/bad stereotypes for every nationality, not just Americans, KWIM? When I went on a guided tour in Europe, there was a British girl who I'll admit did "look" very American-- she always wore her hair in a ponytail and wore a tanktop, short jean shorts and sneakers no matter where we were going. I'm quiet/reserved IRL and I tend to dress up, so it was funny because everyone thought she was from the US and I was from Europe. So like I said, I think it varies depending on the individual. I hope that makes sense...

    As far as European tourists in the US, I can usually tell more by how they are dressed than how they act :shrugs:...
  7. I have noticed that there are parallels; many French are interested in American culture, like the music scene in Brooklyn (take a look at les concerts a emporter on Blogotheque) in the same way that American people are interested in French designers or art movements.
  8. i was checking in for a flight from l.a. to france and the man at the next check in booth was french. he wanted to know where he could pick up his tax free shopping forms so he could get his taxes back for all his u.s. purchases. the ticket agent was trying to explain that we don't have tax free shopping... the french man spoke little english and the ticket agent spoke no french. when he finally understood that there would be no tax back he pulled a fit. he went into this total rant in half french and half english about how americans get their taxes back when shopping in europe but that we then don't return the favor etc. etc. etc. it got pretty nasty...

    i felt like telling him that the u.s. taxes on the whole are so low compared to the VAT it is like the whole freakin' trip was tax free... and not only that but the rules in europe are so specific that many goods if not over a certain amount and all services are exempt meaning you do not get your taxes back... but he seemed to be so irrational i did not wish to get involved and i just smiled sympathetically at the ticket agent...

    also... my mom is european (and technically so am i because i was born in europe) and she speaks about other people all the time thinking that they do not understand what she is saying... we speak greek so it is true that few people will understand but some do... i have noticed this in france with other greek tourists they think nobody understands what they are saying and it is funny/embarassing to eavesdrop on their running commentary... because they are invariably saying things aloud that they would not say aloud on the street in greece...
  9. Quiet...and..........reserved..... :shrugs: WHAT? No way jose! My world is upside down now :upsidedown:
  10. One of incidents I encountered as "non-American" was the older Asian women when they came to gamble at the local Indian Casinos. They push and crowd against everyone, and never say I'm sorry or excuse me. It annoyed my mother horribly, and she never had a bad word to say about anyone. I went to have dinner with DH at the casino my son worked at and almost had two ladies sitting in my lap while waiting in line for the hostess!!

    I think though, I have to chalk that up to the war years, when they had to wait for everything and getting there first was life or death.

    If you are of Asian ancestory or are from Asian countries, I mean no disrespect. As I said, I can understand it, but when you are at my level, personal space is very important. Your elbow is at my head. I had one lady close her purse and she had a handful of my hair caught in it.
  11. i just wanted to note one observation about one difference in culture i've noticed. In US, many women obsess about their weight and thus any comments about it are usually perceived as offensive. This doesn't seem to be the case in many parts of Europe. For example once at MIT i ran into a fellow grad student (Italian) who I hadn't seen in like 2 years. The first comment he said to me after "how are you?" was "Oh, you've gained some weight!" :wtf: i was just so shocked, but then later realized that it's a completely different culture over there...especially in Mediterranean countries (Greek, Italian, Spanish), a woman gaining weight is not seen as a bad thing (actually viewed more as being "healthier" or "happier"). But in the US if a guy ever told a girl she gained weight, he could probably expect to be slapped (LOL)! So after thinking about it i knew the guy probably didn't mean to be rude, but i was still taken aback by it.
  12. - I've met some individuals from Britain that think it's funny to talk about how certain ethnicities behave. Considering our long past of discrimination and the large variety of ethnicities in this county, I don't think this is an appropriate type of joke around strangers.

    - I get upset about some of the assumptions people make about our country. We're not all rich, we're not all cowboys, and we DO have a concept of 'manners'.

    - ITA with the comment about sexual aggressiveness too.
  13. Also, don't gawk! When I was 18 I went on a trip to DC in my father's pickup, which is about twice my height. I jumped out of the pickup wearing short-shorts, with my (at the time) blond head of hair. An entire group of (Asian) men were standing there staring at me. One of them tried to take a picture!


    Ok so it's sort of flattering but really more uncomfortable than anything else.
  14. This particular story didn't happen in the US. I was traveling the countryside in Thailand last year. Anyways, we were at a small restaurant in the outskirts of the town of Sukhothai. Not exactly the center of the universe. Our dinner cost us about 1 Euro a piece. Anyways, there was this German tourist who was creating a scene and yelling at this poor Thai waiter. It hit an all-time low (depending on your point of view) when he started belittling the waiter and asking him where he learned to speak English. "Ver di Yu lern to sschpeak englische?!?" I was appalled and thinking "Are you f**k*ng kidding me???" It's one thing to "expect" it at the Four Seasons, it's another to ***** that the you don't understand your waiter's english in the middle of the countryside in Thailand. Of course, he left no tip, which just proved to me that he was a cheapass bastard to boot. And when he left, the entire restaurant sighed a breath of relief.

    Not to offend, but every place we went during that trip, if there was some angry *****ing tourist, it happened to be some German guy. We are still trying to figure that one out. That said, I've also met plenty of nice Germans abroad as well.

    1. Tip according to local customs. Just because you're a visitor, it doesn't mean you can abuse service people.

    2. Be courteous of your hosts (regardless of what country you come from. To believe you are superior because of European or American heritage, you end up belittling your own culture). Don't ***** about their language skills when they are trying to speak your language, which isn't their native tongue.

    3. If something is wrong, talk to your host diplomatically and with sincerity. Don't create a scene. It's NOT cute. Unless you want people to go "Oh, thank goodness that jerk finally left!"
  15. Oh, I don't know if this is a European thing or not, but the woman who was doing this was from Europe. Another mortifying incident.

    1. It is not OK to wash your private parts at the sink in a public restroom!