Culture clashes are not a new fact of life. If you have traveled overseas there’s a good chance you’ve encountered a situation in which your actions have left locals feeling a bit awkward, mad, or even confused.
We searched the web for examples of culture clashes that didn’t seem like a big deal to Americans but matters in other cultures. Some of our tips will help you navigate your next trip while other culture clashes will help explain why you don’t see certain actions occurring in other countries.
If you remember these tips you won’t look like a noob when it’s time to pack your bags, grab your passport, and head out on the vacation of your life.
You’ll be surprised to learn what it means to ask for directions in some countries.
10. I’m Not Eating That!
Sending food back when eating out at a restaurant in the U.S. because you think it’s below par is hardly something we’d call taboo. Unless the dish looks like it’s been kicked around on the kitchen floor, or could be certified as dangerous, in many other countries they’ll just accept the meal and hope for a better one during a second visit. Complaining in some countries is just plain rude.
9. You Think I’m Funny!?
Americans are generally known throughout the world as being a fairly cheerful bunch of people. But one thing you should know when traveling abroad is that smiling at strangers could totally freak people out. In much of Europe for instance, people tend to keep to themselves. A smile could actually cause offense!
8. I Don’t Need Your Charity Buddy
Not giving a tip for certain services in the U.S. might encourage people to think you’re a tight wad, but give a tip for ordering a beer in a local pub in England, for instance, and it’s likely you’ll make someone think you feel sorry for them. Generally speaking, tipping in many places around the world is normal behavior only in expensive restaurants. Read on, and save yourself some more blushing.
7. Drugs That Make You Feel Good, As Advertised on TV
In the U.S. the advertising of non-prescription drugs on TV is nothing out of the ordinary, if not a little controversial. Have you ever seen that ad for Prozac and felt like going out and asking your doctor for a prescription? In many other countries, this is seen as highly unethical, with direct-to-consumer advertising being totally outlawed.
6. Asking for Directions
Most American cities have been designed to be easily navigable. If something is 4 blocks East, then it’s not going to be hard to find. Ask most Europeans how many blocks it is to the zoo and they might not know what the hell you are talking about. “Block” is not used in many countries due to the fact there are no blocks, just a very confusing series of squiggles.