What do foreigners get warned about when traveling to the U.S.? (Photo: Michela Ravasio/Stocksy)
By Jackie Strause for Yahoo! Travel
Being topless is outlawed, even for small girls. – German government
Avoid walking alone in less vibrant areas (parts of the Bronx in particular) and parks (including Central Park). – French government
Don’t make flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through U.S. airports. – British government
These are just a few of the warnings issued by governments abroad for anyone planning to travel to America. You can see what the world has to say about us via government websites (with a little help from Google translate) — and it’s pretty eye opening.
The foreign views about our government (“During Obama’s time in power, America’s global power position eroded”), our laws (“The American authorities are extremely vigilant”), and our culture (“Breastfeeding of babies in public is indeed now the exception in [al]most every state of ‘indecent exposure’”), provide invaluable insight on how we, a reigning superpower, are viewed (or stereotyped) around the world today.
From insulting to spot-on and some even “seriously, WTF?” — here are a few of the most memorable bullet points from other countries’ ministries of foreign affairs about traveling to the U.S.
“It is recommended to adopt a reserved attitude toward persons of the opposite sex,” when in the U.S., at least according to the French government, which implores its citizens to basically, behave. Americans as a people are very respectful of the law, says France, which is why possessing narcotics, going topless in public, or inappropriately joking with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are all actions that come with consequences. “In many States, the possession of firearms is permitted and common. Visitors must therefore, in any circumstance, keep their calm…” say the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
A credit card is “indispensable,” repeated harassment known as “stalking” is punishable by law, and if you want to parade around in your birthday suit, you’d better find a nude beach, Germany tells its people about the U.S. Also, regarding: parking tickets (“Please pay!”), high medical bills (“Often it is cheaper to fly back to Germany and to deal with [it] here”), and cases of child negligence or solicitation (“The borders between harmless family photos and punishable ‘sexually suggestive’ photos are blurred in the eyes of investigators,”) the country says about our legal system.
The United States is both “loved and hated,” according to Sweden. “Probably no other country arouses such strong emotions as the U.S. Admired the world over as a champion of democracy and human rights, but detested by at least as many for its self-imposed role as world policeman,” the Swedish government explains. Despite what is called our country’s “meddling” in others’ affairs and the “limitations of human rights” after 9/11, Sweden cannot deny our ownership over finance and entertainment worldwide. “Praise for freedom of the press and for being where the Disney group hails from,” the Swedish government says.
The English frequently hop across the pond, which is why the U.K. sternly warns its citizens about the threat of terrorism in America and why it’s important that travelers are always on their toes: “Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners.” Most importantly, “Don’t make flippant remarks about bombs or terrorism, especially when passing through U.S. airports.”
Many U.S. cities suffer from high crime, traffic congestion — and a lack of values and culture, says Russia. “Despite the intensive propaganda of ‘universal values,’ the universal American culture does not exist,” explains the Russian government. The warning then goes on to clear up one common “cliché,” — the “American dream,” which according to Russia is a front to hide inequalities in socioeconomic status; while confirming another — “The people of the United States are more materialistic and individualistic than others.” Russia even warns its citizens to weigh the risks before traveling to American turf, since U.S. authorities “hunt” for Russians all over the world.
Like Australia, says the Aussie government, the U.S. enjoys “strong people-to-people links,” thanks to the high flow of tourists, students, and long-term and professional workers both to and from America and Australia. As a by-product of this successful reciprocal relationship, America — theentertainment superpower — is “enriched” by Australian actors, dancers, musicians, authors, and artists. “A growing number of Australians in the entertainment industry are taking on starring and supporting roles on American movie and television screens with many winning awards.”
China also suggests its citizens visiting us avoiding any “bomb” or terrorism speak, but mainly stresses they should be polite. Important etiquette rules for the U.S. according to the Chinese government include: being nice to children and the elderly; standing to the right side of the escalator because the left side is for people in a hurry; drinking moderately and quietly; holding the door for others; not cutting ahead in lines; not smoking while walking; not spitting or littering, and taking good care of flowers and trees.
Poison ivy, tap water (“not very tasty, [but] safe to drink”), and the speed limit are what Austrians need to look out for in the U.S. according to their government. Driving over the limit will be “severely” punished, but if you’re on foot, watch for pickpockets at night (since crimes are “piling up”). There’s also a new code of conduct: No “topless bathing or swimming of small children in public bathhouses.”
America’s neighbor in the north also stresses to its citizens the prevalence of night-time U.S. crime — “Violent crimes, particularly assault, are often connected to alcohol and drug consumption. Remain alert and discreet while in entertainment areas.” It also addresses the dangers of picking up hitchhikers and transporting illegal citizens over borders. “As the driver, you could be held responsible for the misdeeds of your passengers, even if committed without your knowledge or involve.”