HOW TO GET BY IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY

Those of us who aren’t natural linguists do better with a phrase book. Good travel guides often have sections covering how to greet people, how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and how to ask about transport, tourist information, accommodation and emergency facilities. Lists of local dishes and regional specialities are helpful, too – even if English language menus are available, not all translations are intelligible.

Alternatively, Google Translate’s app will give you phrases and word meanings in over 100 languages, but be aware that there’s no guidance on pronunciation.

Language classes or home-based language learning are worth considering if you intend to spend a lot of time in one country, or plan to make frequent visits.

Do ask local people for help when travelling. Most are happy to assist and a lot can be achieved with a few words and some judicial pointing.

It’s a good idea to look up key etiquette points for the countries you are travelling to. This will safeguard you from causing offence unwittingly. Understand tipping policies and clothing etiquette -such as the requirement to remove your shoes before entering a mosque, to only wear shorts in Vietnam while on the beach, and so forth.

Going beyond the bounds of manners can land you in serious trouble with the authorities; for example, photographing airports, or military and government buildings.

There are additional etiquette rules when doing business internationally that can be deal-breakers if not observed, so make sure you’re aware of these before you go.

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