Surprising Things Americans Discover Living Overseas

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Surprise! – Not Everyone Speaks English

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Many Americans perceive English to be the universal language and expect that individuals in the hospitality sector can understand and speak it. While this is true for many highly-populated tourist areas, this is not a standard across the board. And no, speaking English louder or slower does not mean your waiter or receptionist will understand you. To make sure you’re able to communicate while traveling, learn some local jargon on apps like DuoLingo and Babbel before your trip.

“Dorothy we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

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“Before the World Cup began this year, several companies such as Russian Railways, Fifa, and the Moscow Metro conducted special training to teach their staff to be more polite and helpful to foreign visitors and, in particular, to smile more. Russians are not known to  smile at strangers as much as Westerners according to BBC.

When you check-in to a hotel, do you prefer to have a smiling receptionist or one who appears apathetic? Of course you would say a smiling one. It will definately set a positive tone for the rest of your stay.

The southern states of the United States are known for their “southern hospitality.” Michelle Darrisaw of Southern Living magazine says, southern hospitality encompasses politeness, good home cooking, kindness, helpfulness, charm, and charity. These words alone evoke happy feelings.

Many destinations new to tourism make lack good hospitality skills right away. It is not always instinctive for people who are new to the service industry to know how to cater to a client properly, especially if the employees have never stayed at a luxury hotel before. Destinations have to spend time managing extensive training programs so that the service is adequate and up to high standards. Typically, the larger hotel brands have these training’s streamlined, and high-performance is standard in these brands across the globe. But as you’re traveling abroad, don’t always expect 5-star service, even if you are staying at a 5-star hotel. Standards will vary across countries

Real Estate Agents Don’t Need to be Licensed to Sell Real Estate  (Many Latin American Countries)

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Believe it or not, Many countries do not require that a real estate agent be licensed. In the United States, there are intensive classes and examinations that people must take to sell real estate. To become a certified realtor and specialty designee, there are even additional requirements. The sale of real estate is heavily state regulated, and systems like the MLS (multiple listing services) exist as a tool for locating homes.

You will see in most cases it is not as organized either in many countries. Anyone can get a business card printed that says “real estate agent” and hand it out to tourists at the airport. Doing your due diligence will go a long way in protecting you from shady “Realtors”as you do your property search.

 Tourist Visas-Check beforehand

American citizens can enter some 160 countries without pre- applying for a visa in their US passport. Countries like Australia require an electronic visa called an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) before traveling to Australia. They are valid for tourist or business visits of up to 90 days.  To be sure , you can go directly to the embassy’s website (for the country you are visiting) to see their specific requirements.The length of your visa varies from country to country.

Overseas Emergencies

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Unfortunately, this is something most expats don’t think about. Emergencies while living abroad can come in all shapes and sizes, from a natural disaster to political upheaval, from an accident or illness to becoming the victim of crime. Taking simple precautions and outlining potential emergencies before travel can ease your mind. An hour or two of work may save your trip if the “worst case scenario” should occur.

 The U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Consular Affairs have put together a go-to list of what student travelers can and cannot do in a crisis and what they can expect from their government back home. This is an excellent, thorough resource to review and find answers to questions such as:

  1. What is the Department of State’s role during a crisis overseas?
  2. Do you always evacuate U.S. citizens during a crisis overseas?
  3. Will the U.S. government pick me up in an emergency?
  4. What happens during an evacuation?
  5. How can I receive updated information during a crisis?
  6. What if I do not have access to email or phone service?

Additionally making sure to the best of your knowledge that the food and drink that you consume is clean is also important. Making friends with locals is easy and is encouraged. Be prepared before you take that leap to live abroad.

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