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The strangeness of foreign lands

An American to his companion, taken aback and clearly bothered, while walking by the German consulate in Venice. He has just commented on how dirty the exterior of a church is, and generally seems to be in a critical mood: "Why is there a German shield on that building?"

An Italian to her companion, on a train which has just crossed into Switzerland, and which has just jostled about a little. Scornfully. "In Italy, trains don't move about like that." (She says it again, emphatically, a moment later.)

Three people have complimented me on my French in the last day. As my own traveling companion rightly pointed out, they only do so because my spoken French isn't actually all that fluent - it's just obvious that I'm trying hard.

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