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What Foreign Embassies Tell Their Citizens About How to Prepare For America

Reposted from Foreign Policy Magazine. The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author is theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the United States Department of Defense, or any employee thereof.

A piece in Foreign Policy looked at travel advisories that foreign governments give their citizens who are about to visit the US. We here at CultureReady thought it was an introspective look at how foreigners culturally prepare themselves and what frames they have in mind when visiting the US.

A foreign visitor to the United States once informed me, with great sincerity, that Americans are much more polite to one another than the citizens of his home country. I was pleased to hear this (See? Foreigners don’t all hate us!) — until he added that such courtesy is, of course, a life-saving precaution for Americans, since it’s well-known that everyone in the United States carries guns and will shoot at the slightest provocation. How, I asked, had he formed the belief that all Americans carry guns? His embassy had told him so, he explained.

The UK warns its citizens about road safety while the French tell their citizens to be compliant and serious with police interactions.

Brits, Germans, and Japanese are warned not to get sick in the States, because of the high cost of healthcare.

The German government shares the French concern about armed Americans. “In the United States, it is relatively easy for people to obtain weapons,” the Foreign Ministry advises German travelers. “If you are a victim of an armed robbery, do not try to fight back!”

Finally, German tourists are warned not to get sick in the United States — healthcare in the United States costs so much that “often it is cheaper … to fly back to Germany and deal with [your medical problems] here.”

Russia interestingly warns its citizens about American prison populations, crime, and about universal American culture.

You can count on the Russians not to mince words. “Despite the intensive propaganda of ‘universal values,’” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes grimly, “a universal American culture does not exist. However, there is a whole set of stereotypes … which are typical for the whole of American society…. For example, one such cliché is the assertion that in the United States there is a ‘classless’ society. However, this is true only in the sense that … it is the presence or absence of money that determines belonging to a ‘caste.’ From here originates the ‘American dream’ and another myth — the special democratic American society and its ‘tremendous freedom.’ However … the inequality of socioeconomic status between rich and poor is no less than any other country in the world. It is also true that the people of the United States are more materialistic and individualistic than other people….”

To read the whole article click here.

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