Saturday, December 18, 2004

Reading Your Country's Travel Guide

I really wanted to spend winter break in London or Paris this year to go site seeing and take tons of pictures, but that's not happening. Instead I'll probably spend it working or sleeping, the latter's more likely. Even though I won't be going to Europe it's still fun to read travel guides and look at photos of all the beautiful places. I've discovered Wikitravel to be an excellent, though currently incomplete, source for general information on several destinations.

After looking through London, Paris, and Tokyo I decided to see what was written about the United States. It turned out to be an interesting read because things I didn't really pay much attention to were mentioned like what accent is portrayed in mass media and types of alcohol served at restaurants, if any.

My favorite facts about our culture:
"A degree of romance is attached to non-American English accents, and people may be friendlier to you because of yours."

"Unlike much of the rest of the world, tipping in America is essentially mandatory for polite patrons -- and, indeed, tips often form the majority of a worker's income."

"California wines are some of the best in the world, and are available on most wine lists in the country."

"At the college or university level the United States, by almost any measure, has no peer."

Reading about your own culture can be almost as compelling as another one.