Having people visit you is the best when you’re living abroad. It’s a way to have a tiny peace of your hometown, of your memories, your history, back into your life, even if just briefly.
And if you talk to anyone who lives abroad and who’ll tell you that they’re super missing their hometown, they’re dying to go back to their country, their culture, that they’re constantly torn apart about living so far away, I’m pretty sure this person would have no problem living wherever if he had his family and best friends with him. So if you’re Brazilian you may say that you miss spending New Years on a warm weather, having the best food on the planet and watching morning shows where a foam parrot is one of the co-hosts (true story) but these are just details, what we really miss are the people.
So when someone comes to visit you it’s heaven, because finally you go the “I’m living in a cool place that I love + I’m surrounded by the cool people that I love”. It’s all-good.
Some visitors can be a bit of a pain. And not my visitors in partcular, or your visitors, just visitors. Conceptually. I mean you and I can potentially be the painful visitors at someone’s house at any given time. You never know.
The first indicator of the painful visitor is when he asks you how the weather is going to be like in the city when he’ll be around. In 3 months. Well, unless you’re an astronomer, weather expert or maybe some sort of Scientology master, you have no idea, obviously. So what you’ll do is what the person should have done herself, which is “Google > weather Boston April”.
You shouldn’t have done that. It’s gonna be just downhill from here.
From this moment on what follows is an unstoppable flow of questions: you’ve suddenly became a guru for all things Boston (or whatever city). Be prepared to have random, pointless questions being thrown at you during the entire visit.
A typical example: you’re going go to a restaurant that you haven’t been before and the visitor might ask you “Where’s the restroom again, dear?” or “Are the servings here too big?” Hum.
He’s also going to ask you information on buildings, monuments and construction sites in general, just any average piece of engineering, like “What’s that kinda tall beige building over there?” And you have no idea. Yes, you have been living in this city for 2 months and NO you don’t know the history and purpose of existence behind every little thing ever to be built in the city. I mean, I’m pretty sure that person wouldn’t know that kind of information about the city where he’s been living his whole life either, but still, expect a raised eyebrow and a concerned nodding reflecting your “lack of knowledge, therefore lack of minimal interest about the city you’ve decided to move to”. And yeah, they do manage make you feel a bit guilty.
A rare, but real phenomenon one can expect when receiving foreign visitors is the fact that when some people are staying at a friend’s house, instead of a hotel, they suddenly become incredibly lazy. They do not prepare themselves for the trip at all, no research (again, they didn’t even Googled the weather) – they expect you to be their private tour guide, 24/7. These visitors are the ones who just follow you around, suddenly unable to understand street signs or subway maps. Their first question when they wake up is usually “So, what are we doing today?” expecting you to present an elaborate itinerary for the day. You almost feel compelled to leave the house with one of those shiny umbrellas Chinese tour guides parade around with so you don’t lose a friend or 2 on the way.
A recurrent behavior – maybe that’s more Brazilian, though – is that the person can be staying with your for 6 months, he will inevitably remember this thing he had to bring back for his cousin say, 5 hours before he flies back. And yes, you’re going to have to rush outside, cross the entire city to find that thing, drive like crazy to the airport and bribe the airline intern at the check-in so your friend doesn’t miss his flight (cuz all you want to do at this point is to go back home and be ALONE!).
There’s also refusing to accept that some habits are different in the country they’re visiting. In case of Brazilians visiting the US is the tipping system. In Brazil we don’t usually tip – at least not so often as here – so Brazilians feel that if they round the bill up, they’re more than ok with the tipping, while they’re actually “tipping” by… 2%.
When I was living in Spain, my Brazilian visitors would usually consider Spanish the same language as Portuguese. They’re similar, but trust me, they’re not the same. So they’d just speak Portuguese, adding up a bit of an accent and throwing a “Gracias” now and then. So it would happen that they’d order wine and got a mojito, a roast chicken and got a chocolate brownie and stuff of the sort – which, however, would never convince the motivated visitor to switch to English, not even when the waiter did.
But anyhow, it’s all small stuff. Anecdotes. Good memories actually. Having someone visiting you IS actually always a good thing… always.
I’m just a grumpy foreigner missing spending New Years in a warm weather…