Don Pablo Edronkin

A Brief Reflection On Countryside Manners.

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Always greet peasants and locals in small towns, farms and the countryside.

They are not accustomed to being ignored despite the fact that they might well live isolated from others for months every year.

While you travel, be polite and don't look at local customs with contempt; it often happens that when one comes from an 'advanced' society from the 'developed' world, ancient customs at 'poor' countries may seem primitivism instead of local folklore. Be very careful with this because, anyway, if you are coming from a country which is just one or two centuries old, you would be pretending to judge cultures which in some cases more than fifty times older than yours.

One of the best ways to approach different cultures is to learn local languages. I don't think that it should be necessary to review every single little advantage that a person gains by learning a new language, but we must say that in a world like the one in which we are living now, speaking and understanding fluently a foreign language is almost mandatory, and not only for labour reasons, but in order to access all sorts of information.

Just think about your survival in another country: if you can't read their road signs you may get lost, have an accident, receive a ticket from the police, or just waste a lot of your time, and it is not their fault that their signs are not in your native language because you are visiting their home.

And what happens with all that online information that we have now available is another example: you can get most of it cheaply, fast and conveniently, being the only barrier, your knowledge of too few languages.

In the case of the European Union, not only will it be easier and simpler to visit another countries: communitarian citizens can take advantage of many job opportunities, and knowing more languages simply extend their possible landing places and thus, better salaries, more satisfaction, etc. The communitarian citizen who does not understand a second language is at a clear disadvantage; making the most of the U.E. with its shortcomings and virtues depends on communication.

Plus, learning a foreign language opens the doors to a new way of thinking, another history and different perspectives regarding our world. Many of the problems that from time to time appear between nations and civilisations are related greatly to lack of empathy and understanding between each other; learning from different people does and should not mean to supplant your own way of life with theirs, but nobody should remain closed to new or different ideas.

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A small town in Spain.
Be polite and careful in small towns.

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