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U.S. Customs That are Weird Everywhere Else

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Americans aren’t exactly known for being the most gracious tourists. We’re loud, stubborn, can complain a lot, and often don’t do the necessary research before going to a new country. This can all lead to quite a few miscommunications… There are a lot of things that we do in the U.S. of A that are rude or weird to do in other places of the world. If you’re planning on traveling any time soon, then you better listen up and make sure to pay attention to these customs that you shouldn’t do anywhere else, and save yourself a LOT of embarrassment!

1. Blowing your nose (Japan)

In Japan, blowing your nose in public is a big no-no! From the Japanese point of view, it doesn’t matter from what orifice a bodily effluent comes out of. Blowing your nose is just as bad as burping or farting in public, and you definitely want to avoid that!

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Putting your dirty tissue into your pocket would be committing an atrocity, so make sure to avoid this behavior when in Japan!

2. Showing the bottoms of your feet (Arabic countries)

Don’t put your legs up when in an Arabic country! It’s considered a big insult to show the soles of your feet. It’s a rude gesture because the bottoms of feet are typically considered to be unclean. If you show them to an Arab, they’d probably be offended.

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This is one of the reasons why it’s always important to take your shoes off before entering a mosque or home.

3. Asking what somebody does for a living (everywhere else)

In the U.S., it’s normal to ask somebody, “What do you do for a living?” But, in pretty much every other country, it’s just like asking somebody how much money they make. In most countries, it’s considered rude to ask personal questions.

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Instead, ask them about other topics of interest, just don’t talk about yourself either!

4. Giving somebody their check before they ask (European countries)

In Europe, if you hand someone their bill before they ask for it, it’s the equivalent of saying, “Hey bud, we want you out, and we want you out now!” However, it’s okay to stick around for a while, as waiters in Europe are paid fair wages, so they are not so dependent on tip.

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That isn’t to say you shouldn’t tip a waiter in Europe… however, it’s okay to mill about and ask for the check whenever you’re ready.

5. Asking someone how they’re doing (everywhere else)

In America, it’s quite common to ask somebody, “Hey, how are you doing?” “How are you?” is a super common greeting that many of us are used to hearing, but be wary about asking it in any other country, because your question will be taken quite literally!

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If you do decide to ask this question, it’s most likely okay, but be prepared for a very honest answer. Although, if you ask too honest, people will probably assume you’re faking interest.

6. Giving your server a tip (Japan)

Who knew tipping a waiter causes so much controversy? Tipping in Japan is not mandatory, nor is it anywhere near a common practice to do. If you do try to tip, it is likely that your tip will be refused, so don’t be alarmed! If you absolutely feel it necessary to tip, wrap it in paper or put it in an envelope.

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In many cases, taking money out from your pocket and handing it to somebody directly can be considered quite rude.

7. Cleaning your plate (Asian countries)

In certain Asian cultures, it is seen as a rude gesture to eat everything on your plate, because it implies that the host was incapable of providing you with enough to eat to satiate your appetite, and you definitely don’t want to do that!

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Furthermore, it’s common protocol to do whatever your host does, so follow their lead!

8. Talking to strangers (Europe)

In the United States, it’s pretty normal to talk to strangers, especially in the Southern states. These conversations are kept casual, of course – anything like “Nice shirt” to “Have a nice day!” is perfectly normal. In many European countries, people are more reserved, however!

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If you try to talk to a stranger in Europe, you won’t necessarily come across as rude, just as rather odd, creating the exact opposite of what you were aiming for!

9. Entering someone’s house with shoes on (everywhere else)

In many countries besides the United States, it’s very important to take your shoes off before walking into somebody’s household. Not taking your dirty old shoes off will be considered a sign of disrespect!

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In America, it’s the opposite! Taking your shoes off is considered a sign of familiarity. You’re making yourself at home, not being polite!

10. Complaining about bad service (European countries)

Here in the United States, the phrase “Customer is King” is a rather common phrase, especially in the world of business. It means that customers are paying for a certain standard of service, so they are entitled to the best. However, in Europe, this phrase isn’t a thing.

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In European countries, the customer and employees are on equal footing, both legally and culturally – neither one is above the other. So, be wary before complaining about bad service.

11. Being patriotic (European countries)

Patriotism runs rampant in America. It doesn’t even need to be the 4th of July – Americans will find a way to flaunt their nationality. In Europe, however, this is a big no-no. Being overly patriotic is considered to be a reminder of fascist regimes and nationalism.

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Overall, it is considered a strange thing to be overly proud of your nationality.

12. Peace signs (UK)

In the UK, what Americans consider to be a peace sign, can actually be misconstrued as flipping the bird. If you make the sign with your palm facing away from you, you’re good. This version of the sign doesn’t really mean anything, however…

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If you make the sign with your palm facing towards you, this is the UK equivalent of flipping the bird. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

13. Not offering your guests anything (everywhere else)

To be fair, it’s even considered a little rude in the United States if someone is in your household and you don’t offer them anything, not even a glass of water to drink. Pretty much everywhere else in the world, however, it’s commonplace to offer some form of drink.

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This applies to everybody, even a plumber or worker. You should at least offer a glass of water!

14. Saying thank you (Asian countries)

In the United States, it’s perfectly normal, and even polite, to tell somebody “Thank you” after they’ve done something for you. In many Asian countries, however, saying “thank you” to close friends or family comes across as too formal!

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Saying “thank you” also often implies that they wouldn’t have done anything for you otherwise!

15. Jaywalking (European countries)

Make sure to wait for the crossing signal before crossing the street in Europe! In Europe, especially northern Europe, you will get some very bad glances if you even think to cross the street before the crossing signal has lit up.

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Even if there are no cars coming, you should always wait for the signal!

16. Fashionable lateness (Germany)

In America, it’s customary – and even cool – to arrive 5 minutes late to everything. It’s called being “fashionably late.” However, in Germany, if you tell somebody you’re going to meet them at 5:00 o’clock, you better be there at 5:00 o’clock sharp!

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There is no concept of being fashionably late in Germany, so make sure to arrive on time!

17. Saying you’re American (South America)

So, yeah… People from the United States love to say that they’re American, which is true, but this isn’t the only America. If you say you’re from America while you’re in South America, they’re going to get offended because that’s making it sound like they’re not from America!

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You’re not from “America,” you’re from the United States, or if you want, you can say North America!

18. Turning down food (Arab countries)

In most Arab countries, it is very impolite to refuse food from somebody! In the United States, many times somebody will turn down food so as to not inconvenience the host that is offering, but in many Arab countries, this would be incredibly rude!

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To play it safe, don’t refuse anything that’s offered to you unless it’s a gift.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Hold on, it gets a lot more complicated!

19. Not declining a gift (Asian countries)

In the United States, if somebody is trying to give you a gift, it would be rude to refuse it. In many Asian countries, however, it is customary to decline a gift or favor several times before finally accepting it. This doesn’t mean that you have to actually decline the gift, it is simply customary to do so.

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Not declining an offer several times makes it seem as if you’re taking advantage of the person and not giving them the proper respect.

20. Eating in a place where food isn’t served (everywhere else)

In many countries outside of the United States, it is considered to be very rude to those around you to eat food at any place that doesn’t explicitly serve food, such as in public transportation. In Japan, it’s even considered rude to eat food while walking down the street!

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Of course, even in the U.S. it is rude to eat certain types of food on public transportation. Stay away from messy or smelly foods!

What other silly American customs are there?

21. Using superlatives excessively (everywhere else)

Come to the United States and you’ll hear lots of people saying things like “this is the best thing ever” or “this is the greatest.” While this tendency to positively over-describe is fine in the U.S., don’t do this anywhere else or you’ll come across as insincere!

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If you do say things like this elsewhere, you’ll seem fake, or even dishonest depending on the context.

22. Putting one hand in your pockets (Turkey and South Korea)

In the U.S., you can put one of your hands in a pocket and it’s chill. It’s no big deal and can even send off vibes of being cool with a little bit of swagger. In Turkey and South Korea, though, doing this is not only considered arrogant, it’s very rude!

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This is because it conveys a lack of confidence, as well as a lack on openness of interest into engaging with anybody else.

23. Immediately opening a present (China and Japan)

While everybody in the U.S. has their own set of rules when it comes to giving and opening presents, things are a little more specific in some Asian countries. In certain Asian countries, especially China and Japan, immediately opening your presents will present you as a greedy person with no self control.

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Additionally, you should never open a gift in the presence of the giver! Wait until they’re gone to unveil your lucky surprise.

24. Adding extra seasonings to food (European countries)

In pretty much every restaurant in the United States, you’ll see an extra salt and pepper shaker at every table, and sometimes various other condiments. In Europe, however, you should always check your table to see if there are any condiments, and if not, don’t ask for any.

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Seasoning your food is basically saying, “the food wasn’t prepared well,” and is considered to be a rude gesture.

25. Big talk (everywhere else)

In most cultures, it is proper etiquette to be a little bit self-deprecating. It doesn’t have to be a lot, it’s just considered to be in good form. Of course, here in the U.S., self-deprecation is something that doesn’t often happen…

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Talking yourself up comes across as stuck up, and rightfully so. Be aware of who you are and who you’re talking to!

SHARE this article if you plan on using some of these tips!

Source: list 25

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