customs and taboos

Taboos, one


There are a number of customs and gestures that Americans use without thinking twice. But when traveling abroad, these will not only make you stand out as a tourist, but could get you in hot water.

Inspired by this Quora thread, we’ve rounded up some of the most common American customs that are seen as offensive elsewhere.

What do you think of these customs or taboos? Why are they considered rude or offensive? What is it like in your country? What do people in your country think of them?
1. Tipping

In the US, both over- and under-tipping can quickly make you the least popular person at a restaurant table. But in Japan and South Korea, customers (should) never tip.

2. Sitting in the back of a cab

While it’s customary for Americans to hop into the back of a cab, in Australia, New Zealand, parts of Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands, you should ride shotgun (ride in the front seat).

3. Throwing a thumbs up

In a lot of countries, especially in the Middle East, Latin America, Western Africa, Russia and Greece, a thumbs up has a different meaning than in America.

4. Laughing with your mouth open

In Japan, laughter that exposes your teeth is to be avoided.

5. Calling the USA “America”

In South America, don’t tell locals that you’re from America; instead say that you’re from the United States.

6. Being fashionably late

Americans often make appointments for “around ten-ish” or “three-ish.” Being a few minutes late, or as we even call it “fashionably” late, is standard to Americans. But show up at least five minutes early in other countries (like Germany).

7. Being on time

On the other hand, in many South and Latin American cultures, notably Argentina, do not show up to a dinner party right on time.

8. Having one hand in your pocket

This is to be avoided in Turkey, as well as some Asian countries, like South Korea.

9. Using your left hand for anything

Accepting gifts, eating or doing pretty much anything with your left hand in much of Africa, India, Sri Lanka and the Middle East is like a slap in the face.

10. Opening a present immediately

In most Asian countries, most notably China and India, do not open a present in front of the gift giver.

11. Showing the soles of your feet

In many Arab, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist countries, people never show the soles of their feet. Men should cross their legs with caution.

12. Altering your meal

In when having a meal in France, Italy, Spain and Japan, you mustn’t ask for ketchup, hot sauce, soy sauce or salt. Before you ask for a condiment, see if there are any on the tables — if not, refrain from asking.






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