Saturday, January 31, 2009

Behave Yourself!

If you've ever been to a foreign country, you will know that fitting in isn't easy. Chances are, they will have a different language, set of customs, monitary unit, and way of life. Here's how to get a basic grasp on things before going to a different country.

Learn about the country. Get a base of knowledge. Where is the country located? What are their traditional foods? These and other questions should be answered.

Attempt basic phrases. If you do not know how to speak their language, it will be hard to master the entire language in a short amount of time. If you have previously taken the language, brush up on it. If you have never spoken the language, buy a dictionary (i.e. an English to French dictionary, not a French to English dictionary). Learn these phrases along with the basic please, thank you, hello, and goodbye. Remember that with a polite attitude and a smile, your basic language skills will be forgiven.

Try to meet someone who knows about or has been to the country. If it is a country like France or Spain, you may want to ask a French or Spanish teacher from a local high school. If it is a less known country, you may be out of luck.

Have a basic understanding of customs. If you are being tutored in the language, ask your tutor to teach you some of their customs. However, when all else fails, don't point, don't shout, and always say please and thank you. Basic English customs are not the same around the world (especially as you get into Asia and Africa) but will provide as a base for most European countries.

Handle your money well. Money can be confusing, but cover all your bases. Understand the name of the monetary unit (i.e. dollars) and know the names of the coins/bills within the unit (i.e ten-dollar bill, quarters). Exchange your bills a couple of weeks before you go and practice recognizing them.