Borat Sagdiyev, the misguided character from the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan can teach us all about what should and should not be done as a traveler to a foreign country. While his hyperbolic mistakes are almost always extremely offensive, and you may not be quite so blatantly ignorant of or completely oblivious to local norms, cultural bumbles are about to happen. You can prevent many errors by abiding by these lessons learned from Borat's mistakes.
1. You might sound hilarious . . . or offensive . . . even when you dont mean to.Borat innocently tries to imitate American jokes, and fails miserably, sounding absurd instead. If you dont have a great handle on the language, avoid trying to sound sophisticated and stick to the basics. In addition, keep in mind that your sense of humor and that of the locals may vary so much that youll just end up embarrassing yourself.
2. Listen when locals try to tell you about their culture.More than once, Borat blanks out, disregards, or misunderstands when (possibly) well-meaning Americans attempt to school him on American ways, perceptions, and beliefs. If the locals try to give you advice, take it both into consideration and with a grain of salt. And if you don't get it, be as polite as you can.
3. Dont draw unnecessary attention to yourself.Borat, whether through singing a false Kazakh national anthem to a "patriotic" rodeo audience, or by running naked through the halls of a hotel, draws unnecessary, negative attention to himself. Invariably, it ends in disaster. Wherever you travel, be discreet. You are less likely to be arrested if you dont stand out from a crowd.
4. Accept hospitality.Borat cannot accept the hospitality of his Jewish boarders due to his own unfortunate biases. If you have the honor of staying at the house of a local, be a gracious, conscientious, and grateful guest.
5. However, don't expect the hosts to look after your hygiene.Borat, in his constant effort to understand the proper usage of lavatories in the US, mistakenly believes that his dinner party hostess will help him out with the particulars. Oftentimes, hosts go to extremes to make you, as a guest, feel comfortable. But, for goodness sake, clean up your own mess.
6. Try to get along with your travel companions.Its hard, sometimes, I know. Especially when they want something completely different out of the trip than you do. Borat wants to travel to California; Azamat is adamant about his desire to stay put in New York. This, among other things, causes a rift in their relationship. However, they realize too, that, as outsiders, they are better off together. Appreciate the person you are sharing your experience with.
7. Imitating local customs could very well be a bad idea.If you dont fully understand a local custom, stay out of it. Borat, trying to imitate some new friends, gets himself thrown out of a hotel when he shows too much of his shorts and uses words he really doesnt understand. If you want to participate in local customs, do so only with supervision!
8. Dont share too much information.Dont talk to strangers about where youre staying. Dont tell them how much money you have. But also dont venture into the realm of the private. Stick to general topics and avoid religion and politics. Borat, who consistently has little respect for boundaries, gets himself into avoidable situations by revealing too much. Practice restraint.
9. Never assume the locals are like you. Borat unwittingly assumes that Americans share his beliefs and biases. Dont do this. Youll be surprised to find that your viewpoint is not always shared no matter how logical it seems to you.
10. Dont travel with livestock or zoo animals.This is bad practice wherever you go.