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European custom-savvy people, does this dress scream American?


Ginevra
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I think that the traveller stereotypes are probably pretty outdated. I worked in a local tourist information office nearly 20 years ago and American tourists tended to get frustrated that lots of places didn't take credit cards and that hotels were really small/lacked facilities. We used to find it weird that they were so unprepared. These days payments systems are more similar around the world and it's so easy to check and find out information about a country and your accommodation that I guess it's easier to know what to expect.

I agree. The world really has become smaller.

 

As a kid, 30 years ago, we would giggle at all the tourists in the SF airport with their sourdough baguettes sticking out of their carry on bags. Great sourdough was distinctly San Franciscan, a fact we took for granted living there. Likewise we'd gawk at the Texans in the Dallas airport who looked like TV characters in their huge hats and boots, a decidedly Texan look at the time. Going to Europe meant bringing home bars of Toblerone, a delicacy to American youth, not to mention marvelling that a simple candy in Italy could set us back a thousand lira yet cost mere pennies.

 

Those differences are largely gone now. As American adults we have been disappointed by the food in Italy, surprised it was of equal or lesser quality than we could easily get back home (for a fraction of the price and without the attitude). Chip cards mean never dealing with foreign currency. The disappearance of border crossings between countries means no more filling up half our passport with pretty stamps on a single trip. The internet lets us choose American style hotels if we choose, and cars with sat nav remove some of the panic of driving with foreign rules. And in the US alone it would be impossible to tell by appearance if a person is from Alabama or NYC or Paris.

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I haven't read most of the replies. It's just fine. You need a cardigan or sweater to go with it to look like a native. :)

:) fortunately, I ordered a cardigan along with the dress.

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That a person will look more European if they put a cardigan over that dress. 

 

If I had written that, I would just have meant that a Brit wearing that would definitely have a cardi because the likelihood of weather warm enough for a thin summer dress is small.

 

When I moved to Taiwan, it took me months to stop carrying a cardi every day - the likelihood of chilly weather was so ingrained in me.

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If I had written that, I would just have meant that a Brit wearing that would definitely have a cardi because the likelihood of weather warm enough for a thin summer dress is small.

 

When I moved to Taiwan, it took me months to stop carrying a cardi every day - the likelihood of chilly weather was so ingrained in me.

I carry one even in hot weather because air conditioning makes me cold in a lot of places. But that's in the US.

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If I had written that, I would just have meant that a Brit wearing that would definitely have a cardi because the likelihood of weather warm enough for a thin summer dress is small.

 

When I moved to Taiwan, it took me months to stop carrying a cardi every day - the likelihood of chilly weather was so ingrained in me.

That's how it was for me growing up in Northern California. No matter how hot the summer day might have been, as soon as the fog rolled in the temps could drop 40 degrees. And living in San Francisco, the temperatures vary wildly depending on the neighbourhood. It took me years after moving to the sweltering Midwest before I stopped carrying a fleece or sweater with me. Funny how ingrained things like that can be!

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If I had written that, I would just have meant that a Brit wearing that would definitely have a cardi because the likelihood of weather warm enough for a thin summer dress is small.

 

When I moved to Taiwan, it took me months to stop carrying a cardi every day - the likelihood of chilly weather was so ingrained in me.

That's exactly what I meant, the temperature changes very quickly so we wouldn't expect the weather to stay warm enough for long. Someone without the cardi won't look local. Even my 18yo dd has a good stack of cardi's to go with her cute little dresses. I have cardi's to match my dresses. It's a way of life. When women go shopping here we tend to think about matching cardi's.

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My high school teacher tried to get me to develop a more British accent, because she thought it fit my personality better. There's quite a bit of American and British TV in NL with subtitles (or without subtitles if you watch the BBC), so I think quite a number of people can tell American and British accents apart. Now, they're probably not going to be able to tell if you're from the east or west coast, and Australians might leave them kind of lost too. Then and again, it might depend on which American accent you have as to whether they may or may not get confused with British. My Texan wife does usually get accurately labelled as American, not British.

 

ETA: last month in NL someone told me that my Dutch is very good. :lol:

 

 

When I watch the news with my MIL we sometimes play the game of "guess the English." She's good with British/American, and I teach her the various American accents. Australian she usually gets. But then there's the more obscure - Swedish politicians who were taught British English, French people trying to speak American English, or ESL India, or Australians living in Hollywood.

 

I hear some different Dutch accents, but mostly because I live in the north, and most broadcasts are from the south. There's a weather guy on Journaal from the north, and I was very excited to notice that. I could understand the weather forecast! lol.

 

DH's English is almost completely unaccented American now. When he speaks English most Dutch people don't realize that his native language is Dutch, and then are flabbergasted and confused when he starts speaking native northern-style Dutch.  :lol:

 

For Christmas we went to hear a Russian singing group, and the presenter was speaking Dutch with a heavy Russian accent. Crazypants, once he got over the shock, declared that it "sounded like watermelon." I didn't know watermelons even had a sound. But now I know that watermelon sounds like Russian-accented Dutch.  :laugh:

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I think that the traveller stereotypes are probably pretty outdated. I worked in a local tourist information office nearly 20 years ago and American tourists tended to get frustrated that lots of places didn't take credit cards and that hotels were really small/lacked facilities. We used to find it weird that they were so unprepared. These days payments systems are more similar around the world and it's so easy to check and find out information about a country and your accommodation that I guess it's easier to know what to expect.

 

 

I think also there's the issue that customer service in Europe tends to be HORRIBLE compared to America. When I see "porridge" on the menu and I seek to clarify whether that means it is made from oats, or perhaps wheat or barley? I don't expect to be treated like I'm a stupid POS. When I'm staying in a hotel, I also expect the front desk worker to be at least a bit extra-helpful, and not take a "meh, not my problem" attitude, or be even overtly hostile. I get that there's a cultural difference, but for many Americans I think their first reaction would be that they happened to get a super-lousy employee, and would insist on correct service, or seek to make a complaint to the management.

 

When I did that in America my DH would get so upset "why are being so embarrassing?" and go hide. Um, I was actually taught customer service in America, I know what to expect. Somehow, with everything else America exports, the idea of being nice to customers wasn't included.

 

I've seen some odd-looking American tourists doing weird things. But usually when I run into American tourists they're pretty normal looking, just a bit bewildered. I suspect that the "stereotypical American" image is just a conglomeration of the picture of overweight people with fanny sacks, and the American upset at being treated rudely.

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I think also there's the issue that customer service in Europe tends to be HORRIBLE compared to America.

 

I absolutely agree that there is some horrible customer service in Europe.  I think that there's also a difference in style that can be off-putting if you are not expecting it.  Certainly in Britain, service people (even helpful and efficient ones) tend to be less smiley and to use fewer service speech tags (Have a great day!  What else can I do for you? etc.). 

 

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I agree with the comments about diversity in London.  I guess it may depend on where you're going to hang out.

 

If you're like me, you're going to the tourist places, and it will be obvious that you're a tourist, for the same reason it's obvious that people at Niagara Falls are tourists.  :P  I don't think anyone will think less of you for that.  Now if you do all that yelling they say Americans do, or you dress like you thought you were going to the Bahamas, that might be a different story.

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I think things have improved customer service wise in the UK especially in big chains because it's easier to get out ahead of problems. I got a refund on a full nights stay in a hotel last year with just a minor complaint and I wasn't expecting it. However I don't think we like aggressively friendly customer service, aloof is better. I generally am put off by being talked to by staff in any business unless I directly ask a question and things like door greeters are starting to creep in and they just seem unnecessarily invasive to me. I would guess cultural norms are different enough that this stuff will always ruffle feathers.

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I think things have improved customer service wise in the UK especially in big chains because it's easier to get out ahead of problems. I got a refund on a full nights stay in a hotel last year with just a minor complaint and I wasn't expecting it. However I don't think we like aggressively friendly customer service, aloof is better. I generally am put off by being talked to by staff in any business unless I directly ask a question and things like door greeters are starting to creep in and they just seem unnecessarily invasive to me. I would guess cultural norms are different enough that this stuff will always ruffle feathers.

:lol: I think I know what hotel chain. They gave me a refund even when I very carefully did not complain once. We had issues that I had to ask the desk for help with but I was not complaining. They gave us a family room at the last moment and we had to ask for a different one. Our taste which I made clear, nothing wrong with the room. They moved us very happily and refunded our stay??? Not sure that I have ever had service like that anywhere.

 

Another aspect, at least in England, is that people don't really expect to need to return things. My family (having lived in the US) has no problem doing a return if we discover that we don't want or need something we have bought recently. Friends tend to be a bit shocked when we bring clothing items home to think about etc. We don't have any problem returning things. In all honesty I think it might be easier here because the people working customer service can be pretty enthusiastic compared to their counterparts in places where they see many returns.

 

In Europe I think it's easier to get good service if you speak the language well. Our family has noticed that trips to France became easy when dd became truly fluent. Germany and Belgium have also been easy because of Dh's German. I think it was more a case of how well people understand what the customer wants. For the most part people are helpful.

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I was thinking the Vans sleek type sneakers would probably fit in. Something like this: http://www.vans.com/shop/womens-new-and-popular-arrivals/authentic-esp-micro-stripes

 

In Italy lately I've actually seen a lot of black and white running shoes--adidas, nike, new balance, etc., but in plain black and white. I have seen some of the brightly colored ones too, but those are more unusual and the wearers tend to be a little younger.

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If I had written that, I would just have meant that a Brit wearing that would definitely have a cardi because the likelihood of weather warm enough for a thin summer dress is small.

 

When I moved to Taiwan, it took me months to stop carrying a cardi every day - the likelihood of chilly weather was so ingrained in me.

 

Yes, it's like this in the PNW too. It's easy to spot the tourists in the summer, especially in May or June. They're the goose-bumpy ones dressed as if there will actually be summer weather.

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Yes, it's like this in the PNW too. It's easy to spot the tourists in the summer, especially in May or June. They're the goose-bumpy ones dressed as if there will actually be summer weather.

 

Yes.  Summer visitors to Scotland dressed in linen and summer golfers experiencing four seasons in one round.

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I think things have improved customer service wise in the UK especially in big chains because it's easier to get out ahead of problems. I got a refund on a full nights stay in a hotel last year with just a minor complaint and I wasn't expecting it. However I don't think we like aggressively friendly customer service, aloof is better. I generally am put off by being talked to by staff in any business unless I directly ask a question and things like door greeters are starting to creep in and they just seem unnecessarily invasive to me. I would guess cultural norms are different enough that this stuff will always ruffle feathers.

 

Yes, there are differences in wat people in different cultures like in terms of service.

 

Back when Walmart came into Canada, they made a big deal of the Walmart style of doing things, with greeters and so on.  It didn't take them long to change though, Canadians just didn't like it.

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I'm going to throw in another one! In the UK and most of Europe, it is considered the epitome of bad service to clear anything from a table until everyone is clearly finished. And a bill is only usually brought after it has been asked for, never before. Water is not brought as a given, but would be asked for. Clearing tables and constant checking and bringing bills would be considered invasive and pushy - like you're bring hurried out. Also, I've realized that the perception of rude can often just be a misunderstanding. Asking "Can I get some water?" with a smile and a friendly tone would be totally normal in the US, but it sort of sounds like "Bring me some water NOW!" To British ears. No rudeness is intended but much offense can be taken all around, and the stereotype draws another breath.

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I'm going to throw in another one! In the UK and most of Europe, it is considered the epitome of bad service to clear anything from a table until everyone is clearly finished. And a bill is only usually brought after it has been asked for, never before. Water is not brought as a given, but would be asked for. Clearing tables and constant checking and bringing bills would be considered invasive and pushy - like you're bring hurried out. Also, I've realized that the perception of rude can often just be a misunderstanding. Asking "Can I get some water?" with a smile and a friendly tone would be totally normal in the US, but it sort of sounds like "Bring me some water NOW!" To British ears. No rudeness is intended but much offense can be taken all around, and the stereotype draws another breath.

What would you say, then? "may I have a glass of water?"

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What would you say, then? "may I have a glass of water?"

It's more typical to buy bottled water. Even if you ask, that's usually what you'll get. Tap water isn't common like here.

 

We made sure to carry bottled water around with us. Buying it at the grocery is much less expensive than buying it every time you eat out or stop for coffee.

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I'm going to throw in another one! In the UK and most of Europe, it is considered the epitome of bad service to clear anything from a table until everyone is clearly finished. And a bill is only usually brought after it has been asked for, never before.

Yes! This drives me mad in the US, my number two pet peeve (number one being when everyone's food is not brought at the same time). I don't know what rude person introduced the idea that clearing plates while others are still eating was the thing to do, but it has spread like a disease. Ugh. I hate it.

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