When you are traveling abroad, it is very easy to forget that some actions are acceptable only at home and not in foreign countries. In order to help you understand different cultures and conform to their social rules, here is some common cultural faux pas that you should avoid committing.
Normally, what does a thumbs-up represent for you? A sort of gesture indicating approval, isn’t it?
However, did you know that this common hand gesture does not have the same interpretation in many West Africa countries, Russia, Iran, Greece and Sardinia? In other words, your simple thumbs-up will be seen as derogatory, that it, pretty much like a middle finger.
#2. Eating with Your Hands
My fellow friends, if you are traveling to any countries in Asia, Africa or even in the Middle East, I would strongly recommend you to leave your knives, spoons and forks at home. Why? Well, if you were a fan of Indian cinema, you would have a clue. People in these countries consider it insulting if you don’t eat with your hands.
But, even when it comes to eating with hands, always remember to use your right hand only as the left is, well, reserved for the bathroom use. Sorry to all the left-handers, but when it comes to chowing down, the right hand is the supreme leader.
#3. Drinking Coffee
Yes, unfortunately, there are even rules when drinking coffee. So, if you are visiting Italy or Spain and you are thinking of a nice cup of coffee, it is best to go for an espresso. As per the café culture in these countries, cappuccinos are usually banned after 11. Don’t be surprised if the locals tell you that milk is best during breakfast time, while drinking dairy after lunch and dinner can cause digestion problems.
#4. Wearing Clothes in a Sauna
As mentioned in one of my previous blog articles, no one is allowed to wear clothes – not even an itsy bitsy bikini in Japanese bathhouses. It might take a little bit or more time to get used to it, but let me tell you, if you want to visit a Japanese bathhouse, you need to get comfortable with the idea of bathing naked with strangers. However, rest assured, as usually, all the baths are gender-separated.
Moreover, if you wear a swimsuit, undies or even a robe in a sauna in Turkey or Scandinavian countries, trust me, you will be viewed as a prude. These countries believe that a sauna is meant to cleanse and purify oneself and hence it should be done fully in the nude. You will enter with a towel but will have to remove it later on. And, for those who are too shy, then please skip the sauna if you are traveling to such countries.
#5. Eat Everything on Your Plate
Suppose you are eating a nice and tasting meal. It is obvious that you would want to savor every bite and will not leave one thing on your plate. This is how it is usually, right? Not in China, Russia, Thailand and the Philippines!
In these countries, if you eat everything on your plate, it would mean that you are still hungry and were not given enough food. It is therefore recommended to leave one or two bites, no matter how good the food is.
#6. Laughing Out Loud
Whether you are watching The Big Bang Theory or heard a nice joke, you will be most likely to throw your head back and laugh with your mouth open. But, if this similar action is done in Japan, it would mean you are impolite. There, it seems that only horses have the right to make this kind of gesture. So, if you are traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, make sure you keep your laugh to a chuckle and cover your mouth with your hand.
Will you follow these tips? Please share your comments!