Tips on How to Act Like a Local
If you are planning a trip abroad, keep these tips handy at all times. We rounded up some social norms you must abide and gestures you need to avoid in certain countries. Remember, what’s fine in the Philippines may not be okay in other parts of the world.
FRANCE: Ice, Ice Baby
Most drinks in France such as water, milk, and juice are served at room temperature. So even if you like drinking cold water, don’t dare to ask for ice in water.
SINGAPORE: Eating on the street is not allowed
That is why they are known for being one of the cleanest countries in the world. Remember, Singapore is a Fine City!
In India, touching someone of the opposite sex in public is considered off-limits. This includes shaking hands and displays of love even between married couples.
JAPAN: Tipping point
If you’re used to ordering out and deciding if you should leave a tip, worry no more because it is considered extremely impolite to tip in the land of the rising sun.
UK: It’s not about the money, money...
In UK, you can talk about everything under the sun except for one thing – money.
CHINA: My name is Bond. James Bond.
When addressing someone in China, it is rude to say their first name first. Calling someone by their last name is the proper way to address someone because of the importance of family heritage.
GERMANY: Chew Away
Be careful not to chew gum or put your hands in your pocket while in conversation. Germans want your full, undivided attention.
RUSSIA: I can’t smile without you...
In Russia, smiling “out of respect” at strangers is simply not acceptable. In truth, a Russian will get suspicious towards a respectful smile. Smiling at strangers is considered an expression of insincerity.
It’s Not Ok
Avoid Using In: Turkey, Brazil, Venezuela, and France
Say it out loud instead of flashing your hand with OK sign. In France, it means “zero” or “worthless” while in Venezuela, Turkey, and Brazil, it’s a vulgar slang that will offend pretty much anyone you flash it at.
Avoid Using In: The Middle East, India, Sri Lanka, and Africa
In these countries, the left hand is traditionally seen as unclean because it is associated with cleaning yourself after using the bathroom. So make sure you use your right hand to greet someone, exchange money or pick-up merchandise.
You can’t Stop
Avoid Using In: Greece
Don’t use the palm-out, fingers-up “stop” sign
in Greece. This gesture is an insult to the Greeks – a stigma that dates back to Byzantine times, when criminals were paraded through the streets and gawkers were allowed to smear charcoal in their faces using their open palms.
Fingers Crossed doesn’t mean Good Luck
Avoid Using In: Vietnam
Crossing your index and middle fingers won’t bring you any good luck in Vietnam as it connotes a part of the female anatomy and can be considered very rude when displayed at another person.
Pat on the shoulders, instead
Avoid Using In: Thailand
In Thailand, Buddhists believe that the head is the most sacred part of the body. Thus, touching someone else’s head is a definite faux pas! Think twice before you ruffle a kid’s hair or pat someone for a job well done.
No matter where your destination is, make sure that you research before disembarking to a foreign land. Knowing about your destination will spare you from breaking any social norms and will surely help you get along with the locals.