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12 Chinese Travel Tips for Visiting America

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China does a lot of business and trade with the United States, and so there are many websites devoted to helping business people navigate American peculiarities. Using Google to translate advice written in “simplified Han” for Chinese readers into English allows Americans a tiny, possibly imprecise peek into how the people of China view life in the United States. As always, we welcome comments and clarifications from Chinese-readings Flossers.

1. If an American Goes Silent, You’re in Trouble

Americans do not like silence. They will keep talking, so as not to abort the conversation, without a moment’s pause. If you do not make a sound for a long time, the Americans will try to get you to join in the conversation. They might ask if you are physically uncomfortable, or if you need help. However, if Americans do not agree with what you say, then there may be silence. Them not saying anything doesn’t necessarily mean that they agree with you, but that they think continuing the debate with you will not be polite. [Source]

2. They Don’t Realize How Weird it is to Just Call Them by Their First Name

Americans do not pay attention to "status," especially social status. Most Americans do not want their relationship with you to be affected by age or social standing. If you act especially respectful to them, they will be uncomfortable. Many Americans feel even "Mr.," "Mrs.," and "Miss" titles are too polite. Regardless of age, everyone likes to be called by their first names. However, if you feel bad using their first names, you can just smile at each other.

Since differences in social class are not taken seriously in the US, Americans have no hereditary family title. Instead, the Americans sometimes have occupational title. This title is different from the family title, because it is on its own, "earned" rather than handed down by the ancestors. Their career titles are most commonly that of a judge, senior government officials, military officers, doctors, professors and religious leaders.

3. They Deliberately Do Their Own Laundry

America is a "do-it-yourself" country. Americans in general, whether doctors, professors, businessmen, or lawyers, do their own cooking, laundry, shopping and other work. In fact, many Americans can afford to spend money to have cooks and drivers, but they do not do so. They prefer to enjoy a quiet family, and if the family has hired a helper, there is less sense of quiet.

When the American family eats, the food is either served from a central dish, or the host or hostess gives out food to the guests. Most families do not have a waiter, the cook is usually the wife, and the husband makes cocktails.

4. They Don’t Know Anything about China but Don’t Let It Bother You

You may encounter some Americans who know little about your country. If there is such a case, please tolerate them. Unfortunately, very few Americans are schooled on the culture and customs of other countries. America spans from one ocean to another, and all the other countries are far away. As a result, Americans are not too familiar with the cultures and different ways of working in other countries.

See Also: 11 French Travel Tips for Visiting America

5. Stop Everything, Listen up, and No Interrupting

Americans like eloquent, witty conversations. Although American society is filled with an atmosphere of informality, they expect a different attitude when listening to someone speak. The American generally wants the listener to stop everything at hand and listen to him.

Americans do not like to be interrupted when speaking; the best guests have the best ears. Americans also allow others to criticize the United States; a host often asks what the guests think of the United States, and he would be happy to exchange views. [Source]

6. Don’t Get Too Close. They Might Knock You Over With Their Constant Gestures

When two men talk, a distance of 1.2 m apart is appropriate, otherwise it will make the listener uneasy. When a group of people participate in the conversation, you usually have to know one of the people to join. But at a party or other informal social occasion, just say "I can attend?" Slightly introduce yourself, and you can participate in the conversation.

For conversations, a distance of more than 50 cm must be maintained. If you have to move closer, or must sit next to someone closely, get the consent of the other party.

Americans like to use gestures. To ask you to answer the phone, they will make a phone gesture. They will call the waiter with a check writing gesture. Also, Americans do not give each other business cards as a matter of course; only when the cards are needed to facilitate future contact.

7. Handshakes: You’ll probably need a cheat sheet

After a brief introduction, exchange a firm handshake, so Americans will think you are frank and sincere. In business cases, the U.S. woman will take the initiative to reach out to the man. Women generally do not shake hands with each other. If the Miss doesn’t offer a handshake, the men should nod or bow. And handshakes with a Miss are not too tight. Gloves before shaking hands should be taken off, and if it is too late to take them off, you should apologize. A farewell does not have handshakes. You wave your hand to say “goodbye!”

8. If Their Haircut is Ugly, Make Your Eyes Bright and Say, “Cute!”

Always smile when you meet acquaintances. Your tone when speaking should be sincere, you should have a generous attitude when someone greets you, and speak as concisely as possible. Multi-praise each other. Your eyes should get a little brighter when someone changes a hairstyle, or when you see other people's photos. There is a good time to praise. If the changes or photos are bad, find another way to appear pleasant, such as saying "Cute!"

See Also: 10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America

9. You May Not Fondle Furnishings

Guests cannot come early, it is rude. You may be late 5-10 minutes. If you are the host, you cannot wear pajamas at night to receive guests. You are not free to fondle furnishings or decorations and you cannot inquire about prices.

10. Shorts + High Heels = Call Girl

Americans dress casual and wear a variety of clothing in public places. Most of the time they like to wear T-shirts, jackets, jeans, sweatshirts, sneakers. They dress exquisitely clean. Men's pants do not expose their underpants, woman dresses cannot expose their petticoat. Women should wear stockings with a nice skirt. Not shorts with high heels, otherwise they will be mistaken for call girls. Painted eyebrows and thick lipstick is another sign. However, anyone can wear a vest or pajamas in public. [Source]

11. Show Humility to Ladies—They’re In Charge

In public, the Americans show particular respect for women. Everywhere is “Ladies First.” In social situations, men must show humility to ladies. Men must walk on the outside of the sidewalk, let the woman sit first, open the door for a woman, move out of the way on the stairs or in the elevator to let the woman advance, let women order first at a meal, and let the woman get up to leave first. And when you greet a woman, you must stand up.

12. You’re Doing a Good Job in Your Own Way

Americans' ancestors came from all over the world, so in the United States there are no officially "recognized" social customs. Therefore, when you travel to the United States and want to do something according to the customs of your own country, do not feel embarrassed or that something is wrong. While Americans are informal, if you want to dress formal in a social situation, people will think you are doing a good job in your own way. People will accept.

See Also: 4 Russian Travel Tips for Visiting America

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The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now
Disney/Marvel
Disney/Marvel

If you’re in the mood for some speculative fiction and your pile of Arthur C. Clarke books has been exhausted, you could do worse than to tune in to Netflix. The streaming service is constantly acquiring new films in the sci-fi and fantasy genres that should satisfy most fans of alternative futures. Here are five of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now.

1. CUBE (1997)

This low-budget independent film may have helped inspire the current "escape room" attraction fad. Six strangers wake up in a strange room that leads only to other rooms—all of them equipped with increasingly sadistic ways of murdering occupants.

2. METROPOLIS (1927)

Inspiring everything from Star Wars to Lady Gaga, Fritz Lang’s silent epic about a revolt among the oppressed people who help power an upper-class city remains just as visually impressive today as it did nearly 100 years ago.

3. TROLL HUNTER (2010)

A Norwegian fairy tale with bite, Troll Hunter follows college-aged filmmakers who convince a bear trapper to take them along on his exploits. But the trapper fails to disclose one crucial detail: He hunts towering, aggressive trolls.

4. NEXT (2007)

Nic Cage stars a a magician who can see a few minutes into the future. He's looking to profit with the skill: the FBI and others are looking to exploit it.

5. THE HOST (2006)

A slow-burn monster movie from South Korea, The Host has plenty of tense scenes coupled with a message about environmental action: The river-dwelling beast who stalks a waterfront town is the product of chemical dumping.  

6. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 2 (2017)

Marvel's tale of a misfit band of space jockeys was a surprise hit in 2014. The sequel offers more Groot, more Rocket Raccoon, and the addition of Kurt Russell as a human manifestation of an entire sentient planet.

7. STARDUST (2007)

Director Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel features Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro as supporting players in the tale of a man (a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox) in search of a fallen star to gift to his love.

8. KING KONG (2005)

Director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) set his considerable sights on a remake of the 1933 classic, with the title gorilla pestered and exploited by opportunistic humans.

9. DONNIE DARKO (2001)

What will a teenage mope do when a giant rabbit tells him the world is about to end? The answer comes in this critical and cult hit, which drew attention for its moody cinematography and an arresting performance by a then-unknown Jake Gyllenhaal.  

10. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)

Soon we'll have a movie for every single major or minor incident ever depicted in the Star Wars universe. For now, we'll have to settle for this one-off that explains how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the plans for the Death Star.

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9 False Rumors With Real-Life Consequences
King Louis XV of France
King Louis XV of France
Library and Archives Canada, Wikimedia // Public Domain

Don’t believe everything you read—or everything you hear. Unverified but plausible-sounding rumors have been the basis for violent death and destruction throughout history, whether or not the stories had anything to do with the truth.

In their book A Colorful History of Popular Delusions, Robert Bartholomew and Peter Hassall describe rumors as “stories of perceived importance that lack substantiating evidence.” They also note that the sociologist Tamotsu Shibutani describes rumors as “improvised news,” which tends to spread when the demand for information exceeds supply. Such an information deficit most often occurs during wars and other crises, which might explain why some rumors have had such dramatic results. Here’s a selection of some of the most interesting rumors with real-life results collected in Bartholomew and Hassall’s book.

1. KING LOUIS XV WAS KIDNAPPING CHILDREN.

In 1750, children began disappearing from the streets of Paris. No one seemed to know why, and worried parents began rioting in the streets. In the midst of the panic, a rumor broke out that King Louis XV had become a leper and was kidnapping children so that he could bathe in their blood (at the time, bathing in the blood of children was thought by some to be an effective leprosy cure).

The rumor did have a tiny kernel of truth: Authorities were taking children away, but not to the king’s palace. A recently enacted series of ordinances designed to clear the streets of “undesirables” had led some policemen—who were paid per arrest—to overstep their authority and take any children they found on the streets to houses of detention. Fortunately, most were eventually reunited with their parents, and rumors of the king’s gruesome bathing rituals were put to rest.

2. LONDON WAS GOING TO BE DESTROYED BY AN EARTHQUAKE.

Two small earthquakes struck London at the beginning of 1761, leading to rumors that the city was due for “the big one” on April 5, 1761. Supposedly, a psychic had predicted the catastrophe. Much of the populace grew so panicked that they fled town for the day, with those who couldn’t afford fancier lodgings camping out in the fields. One soldier was so convinced of the impending doom that he ran through the streets shouting news of London’s imminent destruction; sadly, he ended up in an insane asylum a few months later.

3. JEWS WERE POISONING WELLS.

A deep well
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Reports that Jews ritually sacrificed Christian children were not uncommon during the Middle Ages, but things took a particularly terrible turn during the spread of the Black Plague. In the 14th century, thousands of Jews were killed in response to rumors that Satan was protecting them from the plague in exchange for poisoning the wells of Christians. In 1321 in Guienne, France alone, an estimated 5000 Jews were burned alive for supposedly poisoning wells. Other communities expelled the Jews, or burned entire settlements to the ground. Brandenburg, Germany, even passed a law denouncing Jews for poisoning wells—which of course they weren't.

4. BRIGANDS WERE TERRORIZING THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE.

In July 1789, amid the widespread fear and instability on the eve of the French revolution, rumors spread that the anti-revolutionary nobility had planted brigands (robbers) to terrorize the peasants and steal their stores of food. Lights from furnaces, bonfires, and even the reflection of the setting sun were sometimes taken to be signs of brigands, with panic as the predictable result. Provincial towns and villages formed militias in response to the rumors, even though, as historian Georges Lefebvre put it, “the populace scared themselves.” In one typical incident, near Troyes on July 24, 1789, a group of brigands were supposedly spotted heading into some woods; an alarm was sounded and 3000 men gave chase. The “brigands” turned out to be a herd of cattle.

5. GERMAN-AMERICANS WERE PLOTTING SNEAK ATTACKS ON CANADA.

Officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police marching in a Canada Day parade
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Canada entered World War I in 1914, three years before the United States did. During the gap period, rumors circulated that German-Americans sympathetic to their country of origin were planning surprise attacks on Canada. One of the worst offenders of such rumor-mongering, according to authors Bartholomew and Hassall, was British consul-general Sir Courtenay Bennett, then stationed in New York. In the early months of 1915, Bennett made “several sensational claims about a plan in which as many as 80,000 well-armed, highly trained Germans who had been drilling in Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York, were planning to invade Canada from northwestern New York state.” Bizarre as it may sound, there was so much anxiety and suspicion during the period that Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden requested a report on the story, which the Canadian police commissioner determined to be without any foundation whatsoever.

6. THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT WAS HUNTING HEADS FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.

In certain parts of Indonesia, locals reportedly believe—or once did—that large-scale construction projects require human heads to keep the structures from crumbling. In 1937, one island was home to a spate of rumors saying that a tjoelik (government-sanctioned headhunter) was looking for a head to place near a local jetty construction project. Locals reported strange noises and sights, houses pelted with stones, and attacks from tjoelik wielding nooses or cowboy lassos. Similar rumors surfaced in 1979 in Indonesian Borneo, when government agents were supposedly seeking a head for a new bridge project, and in 1981 in Southern Borneo, when the government headhunters supposedly needed heads to stabilize malfunctioning equipment in nearby oil fields. Terrified townspeople began curtailing their activities so as not to be in public any longer than necessary, although the rumors eventually died down.

7. POWERFUL APHRODISIAC GUM WENT ON SALE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

An assortment of sticks of pink bubble gum
iStock

In the mid-1990s, the Middle East was home to some alarming rumors about aphrodisiacal gum. In 1996 in Mansoura, Egypt, stories began spreading that students at the town’s university had purchased gum deliberately spiked with an aphrodisiac and were having orgies as a result. One local member of parliament said the gum had been distributed by the Israeli government as part of a plot to corrupt Egyptian youth. Mosque loudspeakers began warning people to avoid the gum, which was supposedly sold under the names “Aroma” or “Splay.” Authorities closed down some shops and made arrests, but never did find any tainted gum. Similar rumors cropped up the following year in the Gaza Strip, this time featuring a strawberry gum that turned women into prostitutes—supposedly, the better to convince them to become Shin Bet informants for the Israeli military.

8. SORCERERS WERE PLAGUING INDONESIA.

In the fall of 1998, a sorcerer scare in East Java, Indonesia, resulted in the deaths of several villagers. The country was in crisis, and while protests raged in major cities, some in the rural area of Banyuwangi began agitating for restitution for past wrongs allegedly committed by sorcerers. The head of the local district ordered authorities to move the suspected sorcerers to a safe location, a process that included a check-in at the local police station. Unfortunately, villagers took the suspects’ visits to police stations as proof of their sorcery and began killing them. Anthropologists who studied the incident said the stories of supposed sorcery—making neighbors fall sick, etc.—were based entirely on rumor and gossip.

9. OBAMA WAS INJURED BY A WHITE HOUSE EXPLOSION.

These days, rumors have advanced technology to help them travel. On April 23, 2013, a fake tweet from a hacked Associated Press account claimed that explosions at the White House had injured Barack Obama. That lone tweet caused instability on world financial markets, and the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index lost $130 billion in a short period. Fortunately, it quickly recovered. (Eagle-eyed journalists were suspicious of the tweet from the beginning, since it didn’t follow AP style of referring to the president with his title and capitalizing the word breaking.)

An earlier version of this story ran in 2015.

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