Saturday, December 5, 2009

A thought or two over coffee...

It must have rained for the last 24 hours. Not always heavy, but a lot of rain. Better than snow in Houston! Haven't driven in snow in a few years, and it is a talent you need to have to survive in snowy areas.

All Americans, especially young students going abroad, need to know that they need to keep their noses clean when in a foreign country. It has been proved again and again, that the American justice system is far superior to anywhere else in the world. Even something as simple as a car accident in a foreign country can prove to be very difficult to settle.

Countries foreign to us simply think differently than we do and we have no right stepping into their front doors and to keep acting like Americans. The old saying "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" is one that should always be remembered.

I remember in 2000, I was an adult chaperon on a mission trip to Graz, Austria and Budapest, Hungary. The majority of our group were teenagers. These kids were very good kids, but they were American teenagers. I was the old grouch who frequently reminded them that while walking down the streets of Graz or Budapest, to quiet down, don't make so much noise as to have people notice you. I have always loved to 'blend in' when in a foreign country. I try to dress like they do, no bright colors, and certainly keep a quiet demeanor. I usually get away with it until I try to speak their language! Unless I am in a place where they speak German, my foreign language skills are weak. I try though, and try to blend in. After all, I am a guest in their country. I truly believe, American exchange students are never fully prepared to spend any time in a foreign country.

Here is something new. The Trout stopped at the vegetable market and picked up some Roma tomatoes. Complaining that they were quite green, he was told that the new rules to stop salmonella are that the tomatoes need to be cleaned with scalding water before being sold. Because the hot water takes the skin right off the tomatoes, they need to be less ripe to accomplish this, so tomatoes will be sold greener. Makes you want to grow your own, doesn't it?

Need to refill the coffee cup...til next time.


  1. How about the time in Copenhagen at the national castle display room of treasures - "Stand in front of the Queen's Jewels" some jerk loudly instructed for a picture of Mabel vs the jewels themselves. Or the tour bus full of americans arriving in Leichtenstein - the whole place became a mad house of jostling, shoving, rude behavior that made us head for the car to get the hell out of there before we were associated with these lovelies!! I can think of many other bad behavior examples by not just Americans but other nationalities to gain attention to themselves vs trying to take in the local culture.

    Sorry for my rant but I fully agree with Schnitzel on decorum overseas!! You can really be treated quite nicely and helpfully by acting decently.

  2. I never quite got the samonella thing that was associated with tomatoes. How could tomatoes get samonella with their lovely red skin to protect them. Anyway.....I totally agree about living in a foreign country and respecting their ways and rules.

  3. Susan, I agree with your "when in Rome" analogy of travel outside ones country.I have had the great fortune to travel around Europe and it always amazes me how little respect foreigners have for their host country. Americans tend to get the hardest rap, due to some Americans wanting to bring their American ways with them. I think it stems from Americans NOT knowing a foreign language and expecting 'the world' to speak English... even in England, where the dialects can be difficult to understand.

    My question is "Why travel abroad, if one is not going to appreciate the difference & beauty of the cultures?"

    As for salmonella... it seems to be getting worse, as world markets open up. That is why I try to shop my local farmer's market ~ buying the produce there at that time and not depending on out of season produce from across that globe.

    Can't wait to see what wonderful thoughts your next cup of coffee brings. Have a terrific morning...

  4. I've seen some very embarrassing behavior by American travelers in countries I've visited. We all need to respect each other's culture and appreciate the differences. Amen.

  5. Anonymous12:17 PM

    Interesting random thoughts.

    I suspect you are eluding to the Knox girl convicted in Italy. But you did not say that. This is a great example of someone unprepared, unrealistic and lacking common sense when going abroad and being on their own. It is not like simply going off to college. Her life is a tragedy.
    Laurie E

  6. I thought of the Seattle gal too and her conviction yesterday. I've seen two documentary's on this story and I'm still puzzeled. I don't believe she did it. But I do think she wasn't ready to be on her own in Italy, very immature and irresponsible. Now her life is a mess and only God can fix this. I feel for your family.

  7. I have been thinking more and more about not being so dependent on the grocery store. Nice chat over coffee. And yes we Americans can be presumptuous!