And attempting to navigate the latter? It’s frequently embarrassing/hilarious/really challenging. If you visit another country there is a 99% chance that, at some point, you will inadvertently do something incredibly rude. And of course, at some point, a local will do or say something to you that will make you huff “Well, I never!” (Or, you know, mutter some choice swears)
Things That I Have Inadvertently Done That Were Culturally Inappropriate
* Not taken off my shoes when entering someone’s house
* Not accepted a second serving of food
* Pointed at something with my foot
* Totally refused to engage in double cheek kissing and greeted everyone with a hand shake
* Threw rubbish in what I thought was a rubbish bin but was actually a ghost money burner
* Didn’t tip
* Made direct eye contact and raised my voice. To, um, my manager.
* Wrote a thank-you note in red pen.
* Wore pants into a Fijian village.
* Talked to people while wearing mirrored sunglasses.
* Responded to someone’s questions with the answer “I don’t care”
Shocking Things People Have Said To Me/I’ve Witnessed
* “You’re pretty, but a little fat.”
* “What happened to your face?” (When I got a tan!)
* “There’s nothing in here that fits you!” (This accompanied by the saleswoman crossing her arms in an X shape)
* “Americans start working when they’re 9 years old, right?”
* “You eat pizza and burgers for lunch everyday?”
* Witnessed public urination about a million times
* “You are very pretty. Why doesn’t your boyfriend want to marry you?”
* Very nearly hit with bettle nut (or normal) spit about a million times
Part of travel is developing a thick skin – both in terms of what people say to you and how you may accidentally offend others. The vast majority of the time, people are incredibly sweet and very likely to cut the well-intentioned gringo some slack. After all, the apologetic smile is international.
What rules of local etiquette have you accidentally broken while traveling? What “rude” things have you heard or seen while abroad?