Few things to consider before stepping to a new country is to at least know something about the place you are visiting. It may be as simple as traffic rules, monetary conversion, or if you are going to a non-speaking English country, then make an effort to learn the basics like how to say “yes” or “no”, “thank you”, or even just learning how to count from one to ten.
As a traveler, we try to come prepared because first of, we do not want to give the locals a hard time and for us to easily get along with them and second, we try not to make a fool of ourselves! If travelers come prepared with their journeys abroad, little do we know that most locals do not even know a thing about their country’s visitors.
As a Filipina who have spent almost 2 years in the USA, these are just a few of the silly encounters I had while I was out and about in a foreign land.
INTRODUCING YOURSELF. Every conversation starts with an introduction! You say your name, where you are from, and supposedly the conversation would carry on depending on how interesting the conversation takes you but as a Filipina, introductions are already a funny start for me because most of the time it will always go like this:
Me: Hello! How’s it going? My name is Erica.
Ben: Oh hello Erica! My name’s Ben. I’m great! Thanks for asking! Where are you from by the way?
Me: I am from the Philippines! (Of course, me being a proud-ass. lol )
Ben: Oh wow! All the way from Asia! So Erica, what’s your asian name?
And there my friends I was speechless! Well, the first time I was asked this question I was at loss for words but eventually I just got used to it and even make jokes about it. My initial reaction though, was like UHM, Erica? That’s the name I was born with?
Well, I am half Filipina and half Chinese and obviously I do have a chinese name but I was born in the Philippines so I get a regular name like everybody else! But if you ask a pure Filipino what their asian name is, they’ll still give you the same name as before. I sometimes wonder if some foreign people think that Asia is just one country. I may be asian but I definitely am from a different race and background.
FLUENCY IN ENGLISH. I had an encounter one day at work while preparing for orders for a banquet event. ( For those who are not aware, I worked as a cook in a hotel). While preparing the dishes and chatting with a colleague who was with me doing the same preparations, I think we were talking about sports. I was still chatting when suddenly he paused and just stared at me. I was caught off guard and asked him what was wrong. He finally answered me with, How can you speak English so fluently when you have been here in the US for just 2 months?
I think I imagined doing a face slap to myself when he said this.
I gave him a smirk and said,What do you think? I went to school dumb-ass! You do know there are universities in my country right? Do you think you’re the only one who can speak English fluently? (Of course there was sarcasm to my answer but we were already at a point that we can fool around with each other. I would never forget that day).
For most Filipinos, we are aware that we belong to one of the English speaking countries in Asia and we consider the English language as an official language aside from our own Filipino language. Though not everyone is fluent but the exposure of the language in our country has an impressive impact to us that for those who can speak it can communicate fluently even without stepping foot off the country. And that my friend is why we can speak the language fluently.
UMBRELLAS ON A SUNNY DAY. Rain or shine, I always carry an umbrella with me. When the sun is scorching hot it is already a reflex to get an umbrella out to protect myself from the heat but once you do this, do expect stares from people. Apparently for most Americans, umbrellas are only a thing for rainy days.
Who would you most likely see with umbrellas? Yes, asian women. HA! Got to protect that beautiful white skin, honey.
HOW ARE YOU GREETINGS. For someone like me, I sincerely value communication and listening to what other people would say. I make sure I give someone the comfort and show people that I do listen because I sincerely care what they think. Well, if you’re in America, don’t expect much when they ask you how your day is going. I was about to answer someone when he asked me this question but without even finishing what I was saying, he was already walking away from me. RUDE. It took some time for me to get used to this culture, I felt like “How are you’s”and “Hey! What’s up” are like robotic greetings that you hear from everyone every single day but never really paying attention to what the responses will be. If two Filipinos would cross each other’s path in a grocery store, they would probably never stop chatting until someone would finally interrupt them! Oh goodness.
So these are a few of my silly experiences abroad. Everyone is free to share their experiences as well and if you have similar ones as mine let me know because I would be glad to read about it. 🙂