“Why are the French so rude?”
Why are the French so rude? This was the question posed to me by a friend who had recently returned from a trip to Paris. While I have never been to France myself, the exasperated enquiry did not come as a shock to me; this was not the first time that I had heard someone complain of the less-than-friendly encounters they had had with the locals of the country they had been visiting (with some countries having more notorious reputations than others!). Interested as to whether or not such encounters were commonplace amongst frequent travelers, I decided to take to the internet.
The more accounts I read, the more I came to realize that the ignorance, or perhaps unawareness, of a traveler towards the culture and norms of the country they visited was for the most part accountable for most undesirable exchanges with the locals. While many travelers claimed that they had been perfectly courteous towards the locals, their friendliness had not been reciprocated. And therein lays the problem. What may be considered perfectly friendly in one country may very well be offensive in another. This includes seemingly insignificant, often overlooked details, such as body language.
The French, for example, are known to be polite, yet formal and reserved in their exchanges with strangers. Hence, abrupt chattering with a stranger, which may be considered an act of friendliness on part of the foreigner, may not be received favorably. An innocent smile to a passerby may not go over too well in certain countries. What you may have thought was a perfectly friendly gesture may have been the very reason for a particularly awkward experience.
Differences in cultural norms must never be underestimated, or you may very well run the risk of causing the locals to turn to each other in exasperation and ask, “Why are tourists so rude?!”
By: Sunbul Turhan