Helpful tips for welcoming foreigners to London

When China hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, its government tried to rein in citizens’ bad habits like spitting. Britain is taking a different tack in the run-up to London 2012 with a guide teaching Britons some helpful cultural stereotypes. Some gems include: A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy.  Be careful how you ...

When China hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, its government tried to rein in citizens' bad habits like spitting. Britain is taking a different tack in the run-up to London 2012 with a guide teaching Britons some helpful cultural stereotypes. Some gems include:

When China hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, its government tried to rein in citizens’ bad habits like spitting. Britain is taking a different tack in the run-up to London 2012 with a guide teaching Britons some helpful cultural stereotypes. Some gems include:

  • A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy. 
  • Be careful how you pour wine for an Argentinian. 
  • Avoid winking at someone from Hong Kong. 
  • Remember Arabs are not used to being told what to do. 
  • Do not be alarmed if South Africans announce that they were held up by robots. 
  • Don’t ask a Brazilian personal questions. 
  • When meeting Mexicans it is best not to discuss poverty, illegal aliens, earthquakes or their 1845-6 war with America.
  • Never call a Canadian an American. 

And how do foreigners see Britons?

Research shows foreign visitors often find Britain’s mix of cutting-edge modernity and rich cultural heritage ‘’fascinating” and ‘’exciting.” They see British people as ‘’honest,” ‘’funny,’ ‘’kind” and ‘’efficient” but in some cases they wish we offered a more exuberant welcome. 

You can see the full list (plus handy descriptions) at VisitBritain, the national tourism agency.

(h/t The Awl)

Suzanne Merkelson is an editorial assistant at Foreign Policy.

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