Hi guys! So I'm American, and I lived in Denmark for a few months last year and completely fell in love with the country and its people. Something I noticed about Danish people is that they always seem so cool, elegant, and composed. I don't think I ever witnessed Danish people acting awkwardly, even once! So whenever I embarrassed myself in public (which seems to happen all the time), the intensity of my embarrassment was heightened...
There was one time when I was one kroner short for bus fare (which is like 20 American cents), and the bus driver was going to make me get off the bus if I didn't come up with one more kroner. So, in a moment of desperation, I awkwardly yelled to everyone on the bus, "Does anything have one kroner??" It was totally silent, and no one would even look at me. It was like they thought if they just pretended I wasn't there, eventually I would disappear. After a tense minute, a girl finally took pity on me, pulled out her coin purse, and silently handed me a kroner. Hahaha. I felt like I stuck out so much as an annoying American in that situation, and I wish I could have handled that like a true Dane.
What about you guys? Have you ever gotten yourself in a funny, embarrassing situation while in another country, and felt totally out of place? I'd love to hear your stories :)
What a lovely advert, Mumtaz! The look on their faces is priceless.
The concept of a 'noisy barbarian' is an interesting one. I was in a small English hotel recently, having breakfast. Everyone was getting on with their breakfasts very quietly and politely, when suddenly there was an extremely loud slurping sound. I looked round and saw a middle-aged Chinese man drinking tea incredibly noisily - suck, slurp, gulp. It was deafening. You just couldn't ignore it. Everyone was really embarrassed for him, but nobody said anything.
I considered making eye contact with his wife to 'Maybe you should tell your husband that it is really rather rude to make sucking and slurping noises with his tea', but didn't think that I could manage it. I suppose the really polite thing would have been if everyone else had started slurping their tea as well, just to make him feel more comfortable.
It's an interesting story about your experience on a Danish bus, as the opposite would happen in Turkey: it's quite normal to ask strangers for help, and people would normally fall over themselves to help out. It would be embarrassing <em>not</em> to offer help! :)
I remember eating lunch once in a Seoul restaurant (alone, which was strange enough for locals), and I thoughtlessly tapped my spoon against the bowl to knock off some rice. The other diners fell silent and stared at this noisy barbarian. ಠ_ಠ