When In Rome, Or Wherever Else You May Be:

Ok, so you’ve got your passports ready and the tickets are already purchased. You were granted visas if one is required to enter the country and you’ve scheduled your vacation days several months in advance so that there are no last minute conflicts at work with the boss. No need to worry about school. The kids are off for the summer. However, you’re still missing something. It’s not travelers’ checks. You got those three days ago from your bank. You bought enough rolls of film to take hundreds of pictures. You made arrangements for your neighbors to periodically check the house for you. You even triple-checked and the bathing suit you finally are able to fit into after six months of strict dieting is tucked in your suitcase. What could it possibly be that you will realize you left behind once you arrive at your destination? Could it be research on the local culture of the country you’re visiting?
Taking the time to learn the culture of the country you’re visiting is just as important as taking the effort to buy that suntan lotion you will need before you walk out onto the beach in the scorching sun to show off your newly shaped body in your new bikini. Without them, you may end up looking quite silly. Just as simply as you looked at the weather report for your destination you can easily “Google” local culture etiquettes. There are numerous forums pertaining to a specific country that have well-informed people tuned into them.
Knowing another culture and displaying your knowledge of the culture while visiting another country is actually quite appreciated by some locals if not by all. Knowing how to dress or how to address certain issues shows an interest on your behalf and the result is an appreciation from those you display your knowledge to of local culture. For example, covering your mouth with your free hand while picking your teeth with a toothpick with the other hand after eating dinner with local Brazilians in Brazil is as important as the expectation that I will take off my hat when I come in your house and sit at the table with you for dinner. Now, the Brazilians may not expect it, but I’m willing to bet they’d notice it and appreciate it.
After researching, seeing firsthand, and most importantly respecting a different culture that you hopefully took time to learn, you’ll not only help polish American’s tarnished image overseas, but have a better appreciation of the different ways we all live here in this world. So as the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”