how to not scream AMERICAN in a foreign country

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by N1150X, Aug 18, 2008.

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  1. Drgong

    Drgong Member

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    I have traveled overseas many times. Until I speak I can pass as German or Argentine, and I had many persons come up to me and speak german or Spanish to me. if you have friends just have them buy you some local clothing and you will fit in well. Remember to get some "used" clothing as well, as you will stand out if you wear all new clothing...

    Though in europe I felt so dang FAT it was not funny.
     
  2. mossberg

    mossberg Member

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    I didn't read all of the posts but: Carry a Canadian flag and say "Eh" a lot.
     
  3. XDKingslayer

    XDKingslayer member

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    You're going to an ex-Russian state? I had the oppertunity to visit Odessa, Ukraine while in the Marines. I can recommend only one thing to fit in.

    Go buy a case of vodka. Go find a couple members of the military. Tell them you are a former U.S. soldier and have a case of vodka and wish to celebrate with them.

    After about 3 bottles of vodka fitting in will no longer matter and you will, strangley enough, find yourself speaking perfect russian.

    If they like you, you're in. The liked us so much they docked a boat full of prostitutes behind our ship and one in front of it.
     
  4. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    I'm proud to be an American....but when I'm in someone else's home (or country) I try to be humble and courteous.

    Also....there is a commonly held perception that ALL Americans are millionaires. This can quickly make you the target of criminals and even get you kidnapped for ransom. And though the former eastern block states deal harshly with criminals, they have very limited means to catch them, and the criminals play for keeps.

    I personally met a young American guy who was working in Moscow and sharing an apartment with a co-worker. They were "pegged" as Americans and set up. Some very brazen bad guys forced there way into their apartment, tied them up and held them at knife point for ~12 hours. During this time, they're ATM cards were taken and they were coerced into telling the PIN #s. After their bank accounts were emptied the BGs proceeded to beat the snot out of them, because they didn't feel they got enough money. The BGs then debated whether or not to slit their throats....finally opting to beat them severely and leave them with a warning not to call the police and a reminder that they could come back at any time.

    They did file a police report and no one was ever caught. One guy left his job and the country, never to return. The other stayed, re-located and learned to be much more cautious about revealing his ex-pat. status and confiding in his co-workers who were nationals.
     
  5. Pat-inCO

    Pat-inCO Member

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    Easy. Don't go there.

    Let them get by without American dollars. :neener: See how long it remains an issue. :scrutiny:
     
  6. JoeSlomo

    JoeSlomo Member

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    Tell them you are Canadian.

    Seriously.

    As a soldier abroad, many of the locals assume you are 1.) American 2.) Loaded with cash, and would "pester" you so to speak.

    I have no issues with telling somebody to pack sand, however, a buddy of mine showed me a technique that INSTANTLY removed interest in us from said locals.

    Local: "Hey, Americans!"
    Buddy: "We're Canadians..."
    Local: Walks away...

    Works like a champ...
     
  7. Chuck Spears

    Chuck Spears member

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    I didn't read all 80 something prior posts, just the first page. So this my point may have already been addressed. As far as blending in goes, just learn the basic local customs so you don't unknowingly offend your hosts. But buying local clothes and trying hard to "blend in" just seems a little silly to me. It's 2008. Not sure if you are going to a real rough neighborhood (if that's the case then you shouldn't be there anyway) but it's not like the locals try to make out Americans and haul them off to secret torture chambers. It appears paranoia runs rampant in too many Americans when we discuss foreign travel.
     
  8. quiettype

    quiettype Member

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    Part of the pre-assault "interview" in latin america is to ask you something in english to gauge your comprehension. I used to simply reply "que?" and look bewildered. It worked.
     
  9. Halo

    Halo Member

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    I was asked for directions in the train station at the Frankfurt airport, so I guess I'd pass as German.

    I agree though, you will be embarrassed when you see (mostly when you hear) other Americans. I think I had something of an advantage with my southern upbringing and its disdain for brash/mouthy/obnoxious social behavior. The best thing to do abroad is simply appreciate how it is different. Some things will make you long for home but others will make you want to stay forever.
     
  10. lbmii

    lbmii Member

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    While on a city bus in New Zealand a girl turned to me and asked; "What part of the States are you from?" So I asked her how she knew I was American without me ever speaking first? She said it was simple. I walked in with my head up and I looked people in the eye.
     
  11. Tortuga12

    Tortuga12 Member

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    I know!

    Wear Birkenstock sandals and black calf high socks!!!:evil:

    Having traveled overseas several times, I have found that those who behave in a "Midwestern-ly" manner tend to get very good treatment from the locals, while those with a more "coastal" way of interaction tend to get shafted. Of course, the same would happen to them in the Midwest, and I personally feel that they have it coming!
     
  12. ridata

    ridata Member

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    :D That quote made my night.

    Being prepared is pretty popular here on THR. We find a difference between being paranoid and being smart.
     
  13. Chilean

    Chilean Member

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    As a foreign country member....all I can say is...YOU CAN'T
     
  14. k-frame

    k-frame Member

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    Someone suggested getting a cell phone and I agree. Depending on the country you're visiting you should be able to pick up a pay-as-you-go mobile phone and top it of with as many minutes as you need for maybe $50 - $60. Very handy to have, even for a short stay.

    As a rule European cell phones work all over Europe so you can buy it anywhere. Often incoming calls are free and outgoing call range all over the map. Right now I'm on Vodaphone and paying 30p a minute in the UK (about 50 cents.) YMMV.

    Once you have a phone learn the local number for what we call 911. In the UK it's 999.

    Oh, and keep it glued to your ear while walking down the street even if no one is on the other end. You'll blend in fine!
     
  15. Chuck Spears

    Chuck Spears member

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    What's so smart about trying to accomplish the impossible? The second you open your mouth in a foreign country you will be made. How practical is that? You should only worry about learning local customs so as not to offend your hosts. Going beyond that in hopes that you will blend in for safety sake starts to border on paranoia. If you are visiting a country in which it is unsafe to be outed as an American then you shouldn't be there in the first place. That's the more intelligent way to "be prepared."
     
  16. mkonops

    mkonops Member

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    I pretty much agree there. Best you can do is play off as a Canadian if it comes down to it. A small patch on your pack is about all you can do in that regard.
     
  17. woodfiend

    woodfiend Member

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    Dude, that's exactly what I was thinking, be a Canadian. I don't know what the advantage of that would be, maybe that other countries would think of Canada as less offensive?
     
  18. Chuck Spears

    Chuck Spears member

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    Although effective, I couldn't bring myself to pretend being Canadian. No offense to Canada, they're a great ally. But I've lost forefathers in the fight to build this country and maintain it. I won't deny what I am. When I'm overseas and the whole George Bush thing comes up when I'm outed as American, I polite say that I'm on vacation and don't wish to discuss politics since I'm just there to have a good time. After that, nobody has ever given me a hard time and the topic of conversation has always shifted back to great things to see and do in the country where I am. That's the best advice I have.
     
  19. geologist

    geologist Member

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    White shirt, black trousers, cheap black leather dress shoes made in China, an old beat up black leather jacket and a cap (not a baseball cap), smoke a cigarette and if any one gets in your face just say:

    "Ya nyiz naiya.".

    If he won't take no for an answer then you say:

    "Yoop dvayu matte.".

    Then head butt him.

    They'll think you're a local.
     
  20. Jaenak

    Jaenak Member

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    Forget Russia, don't do that in the USA!!
     
  21. Diamondback6

    Diamondback6 Member

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    I'd say the best thing would be "Be Polite." With the stereotype of the "Ugly American", if you always say "Please" and "Thank You", and "Excuse Me" when you inconvenience someone, and you make an effort to learn and at least try to speak a few words of the local language, it should win you some goodwill.

    None of the "If it weren't for us you'd be speakin' GERMAN!" either--at least, not unless provoked.
     
  22. Bugaboo

    Bugaboo Member

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    Take it easy! Be a human being! Show respect to others! On top of the stuff your mother taught you... :eek:

    You will be surprised people are people everywhere. Unless the country you go to is fiercely anti-American, don't bother and be what you are - a tourist - and enjoy it.

    As Bushmaster already pointed out: the fact they may not like US Government doesn't mean they hate Americans as people. In many Ex-Soviet Republics they hate Russians due to oppression they experienced from Russians in the Soviet era.

    You will meat all kinds of people, nice guys as well as stupid jerks. Do you, guys, have stupid jerks in US?
     
  23. MBane666

    MBane666 Member

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    I've traveled a bunch in the Third World and Europe, including some dangerous places (and was in fact interviewed once by an outdoors magazine on travel tips, since I was allegedly "bulletproof"). I evolved the Three Immutable Rules for Travel in Dangerous Places:

    1) Never drink the water.
    2) Be personally humble and dress nondescriptly.
    3) DO NOT have sex with anything!

    Like a lot of other posters, I invariably get asked for directions in whatever country I'm in. In Central America, I always go first to the local "Feed Store" and buy a local shirt (t-shirts with local beer logos seem to work amazingly well). The toughest place was Milan, Italy, where even the street people dress more stylishly than I do...I depended on my Sweetie to help me out with my clothes, and I was pleased walking across the big piazza in Milan that I looked like everybody else.

    Depending on the country and what I see the camposinas carrying, I may buy a machete, a cane, a walking stick or something. Always learn to say "please," "thank you," "where is a bathroom" and "beer" in the local language. In Europe and the Caribbean I have visited dive shops and purchased a cheap dive knife WHERE LEGAL! Be creative...in Mexico City prepping for a climbing expedition, I dressed like what I was, a largely broke American climber...carrying an ice axe. Met a lot of Mexican climbers who agreed that only a fool would leave something valuable like an ice axe in a Mexico City hotel room!

    Finally, eat the local food. Carry Imodium just in case...

    Michael B
     
  24. Fish Miner

    Fish Miner Member

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    My wife and I are about 50 days away from leaving on a 6week -'round the world adventure- Asia, Middle east, Europe and Fiji. Alot of the advice is sound here- but the best thing you can do is be open to new things and cultures- If you go looking for trouble, always on point, you are missing the most important thing, you are on travel to have FUN! Travel for pleasure and enrichment- otherwise see the USA, no one will give you beef here (unless you show up in NY with Red Sox hat on!)
     
  25. feedthehogs

    feedthehogs Member

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    You don't have to look for trouble, it will find you.

    Americans stick out like the candy bar in the pool in Caddy Shack.

    Like walking in a bad part of America, don't look like a victim. And if attacked, fight back.

    You'll be surprised how easily people from other countries accept being assaulted and how surprised they are if you fight back.
     
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