It’s said that, when you’re in Rome, you should do as the
Romans do. But when you don’t know what the Romans consider customary, it’s
easy to end up looking like a classless, impolite foreigner.
So as to not get branded with a scarlet “T” (for tourist)
when you travel, we’ve put together a roundup of cultural customs you should
adhere to when visiting some countries around the world.
Eat Only with the
Right Hand in India: In India and a number of Middle Eastern countries, the left
hand is considered unclean because it’s the hand traditionally used for
cleaning oneself. In most circumstances, stick with the right hand when eating
or receiving food.
Mind Your Hand
Gestures in Indonesia: Now that scores of American women are off to Bali to find
love (thanks Elizabeth Gilbert!), it’s
important to know you should never point at someone with the index finger or
touch someone on the head, which is considered the most sacred part of the
human body. Both are considered rude.
Blow Your Nose
Discretely in Ecuador: In the U.S. it’s not unusual to see people blowing their
nose in public, especially in cities like New York and Chicago where commuters
have limited privacy when crammed in trains, buses and work cubicles with
others. This is considered highly offensive in Ecuador; always retreat to the
bathroom to take care of business.
Take Your Shoes Off
in Thailand: If you find yourself entering someone’s home or a religious
temple in Thailand and other parts of Asia like Japan, Korea and Vietnam leave
your shoes, and the filth embedded under them at the door, pointing toward the world outside.
–and-Personal in Argentina: Americans value their personal space when conversing with
others face-to-face and tend to find people who get too close for comfort a bit
“creepy”. Put that notion aside when visiting Argentina and other Latin American
countries, where standard distance between two people chatting is an intimate
one or two feet. Don’t back away from the other person either – it’s considered
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