19 Jan Passing through Social Faux Pas in London

[caption id="attachment_2343" align="alignnone" width="660"] Tip #1: Don't wear these masks.[/caption] While England and the US share a de facto official language (English, although legally the US has no official language), it’s clear that cultures and customs remain distinct, and occasionally incompatible. Navigating social situations can become tricky, particularly when addressing international politics (Ireland anyone?). Keeping that in mind, I present a few guidelines when speaking with London locals, superiors, or even (if blind chance intercedes) the Queen. First, be aware of small talk. Britons are more reserved than Americans. Idle discussion with a new coworker can prove uncomfortable. Don’t take it personally if they shrug you off and bury their face in a newspaper or computer. Likely, your positive demeanor and openness for discussion took the individual off-guard. Throw in a couple self-deprecating statements about yourself and you might just open them up as well. Recognizing the function of humor, sarcasm and wit in British discourse will be your most important tool. And don’t get unnerved if your statements elicits sarcasm; this is a defense mechanism employed when conversation has struck a tender spot for the individual. Don’t take sarcasm or irony personally; offer a bit of your own (without making a fool of yourself) and this impasse may be crossed. If you’ve struck up a light conversation, it’s best to stick to open questions as opposed to loaded ones (“what do you think about the Queen?”) or personal assertions. Comment on the weather and...

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12 Jul Don’t Appear “Touristy”

[caption id="attachment_2189" align="alignnone" width="660"] Case in point.[/caption] When spending any amount of time in a new country, you want to feel like you are absorbing the local culture and avoiding "tourist traps" and stereotypes. Unfortunately, being easily identified as a tourist will make you a perfect target for theft and may also prevent you from meeting real locals. But how to combat this is a place you've never been before? In an article on ehow.com, the writer identifies that clothing is the main item that shows you are a tourist. Research your location before you leave and check out what clothing they wear on a regular basis. You can always buy a few outfits when you arrive if need be, nothing expensive though and you can always wash your outfits so you do not have to buy many. Do not be afraid to approach some of the locals and start talking to them about why they love their country so much. Many tourists may shy away on this idea because they feel uncomfortable or are only worried about seeing the main tourist attractions. Being polite, respectful, and willing to talk to the natives will open your world of exploration and teach you more than you'd expect....

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