While browsing the web this morning, I found an article (article is a generous word, it's more like a list) where the author inserted tourist advice into Google translate. For example, a Japanese citizen's advice to his/her own countrymen about how to behave in America. While those were amusing, especially about food (how Americans make it a big socializing event), I found the Russian advice really striking.
The Russian list is only four points long:
1. Gifts in business may be construed as bribes, if they are not particularly Russian in nature.
2. Women in America like to be treated as equals and not ogled - kissing on the hand and mutual kissing is not acceptable.
3. Don't show up uninvited to a business partner's home. Use care in conversation - don't talk about health, it is considered rude, and don't hang up the phone without the proper confirmations and goodbyes.
And point 4, which I will paste in it's entirety here because it was just so relevant to my life:
"US etiquette requires that you smile in each and every situation. If you want to travel to America, be prepared to give a smile not only to friends and acquaintances, but also to all passers-by, in shops, to the staff at the hotel, police on the streets, etc.
"US etiquette also forbids lamenting the troubles of life, or sharing your problems with others. Sharing in this country can only be positive emotions—sorrows and frustrations are impermissible. In the US you only complain to acquaintances in the most extreme cases. Serious problems are for close friends and relatives only.
"However, it would be wrong to believe that the Americans with their smiles only create the illusion of well-being and that their smiles are stretched with false joy. This is not so. Americans: they are a nation that truly feels happy. These people get used to smiling from the cradle onwards, so they do not pretend to be cheerful. The desire for a successful happy life is inoculated from childhood.”
Makes you feel sort of warm and fuzzy about being inoculated for a successful happy life. LOL. But seriously, it's a gift to be able to pursue happiness - which I agree, is a totally ingrained part of our culture. Hell, it's in the Declaration of Independence. That's not a small part of what we're doing here - declaring our independence from corporations, from the rat race, from the mundane. I can't even express the feeling I get when I think about our move and what we're doing. I encourage you to try it - throw off the shackles of something, be it your gym membership, your phone company, the car loan (buy a used car!), a credit card balance. You'll feel SO free - and that feeling is addicting!