During my travels, I do my best to interact with locals wherever I go – even if the exchange only happens while I’m haggling for something at the market. Not only is interacting with locals the best way to learn about culture, restaurants and other hidden gems, it also provides a fun way to see stereotyping at its finest :p. But hey, now I have a list of twenty hilarious snippets of “local wisdom” that have been shared with me during my travels. Enjoy!
“You’re from Sudan?! Like the country? But your skin…!” – Kenyan vendor
Maybe this guy helped inspire this scene from Mean Girls? “If you’re from Africa, then why are you white?”
“Wait, you’re only 1.5 meters tall? You’re legally a midget!”- extremely tall Danish guy
Apparently Denmark is where the tall guys are hiding.
*Snaps photo.* – person in China
This happened in Indonesia too, and I was hanging out with blondes both times.
“You’re traveling alone? Have you seen ‘Taken?’” – anonymous 😉
Yes, I’ve seen Taken. For anyone that thinks getting into a cab with a random stranger is a good idea…you should not be traveling alone.
“Don’t speak to them in English!” – Parisian father to his daughter
Yep…Paris is one of my least favorite cities, and I’d rather forget this bit of “local wisdom”. #rude
“What is it with you Americans and peanut butter?” – Australian friend
I actually don’t care much for peanut butter, but if you study abroad, you’ll see that the peanut butter thirst is REAL.
“Can you please explain why Americans don’t want free healthcare?” – Spanish friend
LOL. I mean, I’d like free healthcare. And tuition that doesn’t put me in debt for the rest of my life. I don’t get it either, guys.
“You look like Adele!” – some children in Indonesia (yeah, I was mystified as well)
Was I experiencing one of those “every foreigner looks the same” moments? That was a first. This is Adele’s fan club by the way:
“You aren’t Indonesian?!” – so many Indonesians
This even happened to me at an Indonesian restaurant in Los Angeles. Apparently I look really Indonesian.
“Hello. Hola. Salam.” – vendors in Turkey
They couldn’t tell where I was from either.
“Americans have machines for everything! Even machines to peel bananas!” – my Spanish Airbnb host
FALSE. But we do have banana slicers!
“You live in America, but you like Egypt better, right?” – all the citizens of Egypt
I guess that depends if I’m in the mood for chaos or order that day. Not that we Arab-Americans are that quiet either :).
“Americans take casual to a whole new level.” – British friend
Errrm, you mean you flip-flops aren’t appropriate attire at a nice restaurant? I saw this phenomenon in action at a Michelin star restaurant in Spain. Cargo shorts were also present. *facepalm*
“It’s more important for a guy to know how to dance than to cook.” – Spanish teacher in Chile
If this bit of local wisdom is true, then…baila, baila!
“I’m here with the bule (foreigner).” – My Indonesian coworker helping me get an apartment
“Muzungu (foreigner)!” – children in Kenya
This might be my favorite way to say foreigner, ever.
“Braziliana! Peruana! Mejicana!” – Argentine men
The ethnic ambiguity is strong, guys.
“I opened the newspaper and saw an article about your friend Donald Trump.” – Spanish friend
This is why so many foreigners follow our politics. Just sayin.
“I’ll give you a special price…so cheap I have to write it down.” – vendor in Turkey
It just wasn’t cheap enough for us to buy.
“I love when Americans say, ‘you know what I mean?’” – vendor in Italy
Slayin’ with that California accent…you know what I mean? 😉
I look back at all these things and I just have to laugh. I know people generally hate stereotypes, but most of the time, people are just as fascinated by your culture as you are with theirs. And frankly, that makes for some (hilarious) cultural learning.
What are some funny or unexpected things locals have said to you while traveling? Share your favorite “local wisdom” in the comments below!