If you’re American, you may not know this, but a lot of people are insulted by your actions. That’s not me being mean as a Canadian. I’m just stating that as fact. There are so many countries in the world that find what you do to be so rude and/or arrogant, and/or insulting that it really does make one wonder.
But hey, that doesn’t mean that it’s all your fault. Most countries have their own customs that don’t necessarily cross borders. And that can make it difficult to know that you’re insulting anyone. So if you’re planning to travel around the world, this article might help you keep out of trouble…or at least make people respect you a little more around the globe.
Be careful where you tip, keep your hands out of your pockets, don’t stuff your face while you walk down the street, be careful of the “thumbs up”, keep your clothes on, and please watch where you wear your sweatpants, flip flops, and ball caps. Here are just a few ways Americans unintentionally insult people around the world!
15. Don’t You Blow Your Nose!
Alright, so it’s obviously fine to blow your nose in private where no one can see the gross act of shooting snot into a tissue. But depending on where you are, you should really avoid blowing your nose in public. It’s pretty socially acceptable in the U.S., even if some people think it’s gross. But in places like China, France, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Turkey, blowing your nose in public is considered the height of rudeness. And it doesn’t help that people in the above mentioned countries also consider the act absolutely revolting. So by all means enjoy the fact that the United States is the “land of the free”, but be aware that other countries don’t enjoy your freedom to be gross quite as much as you do. So do your research before you travel.
14. You’re Not The Only America…
It might be surprising to some readers here, but there are actually more Americas than just…America. The United States is part of North America, which includes Canada, and Mexico. And beyond that there is Central America, which geographically is a part of the continent of North America, which also includes Mexico, and several other countries. And beyond that, there is the separate continent of South America, which is comprised of many countries. And as it happens, South Americans find it rather insulting that people from the U.S. only consider themselves Americans. And it’s even worse that they call their country America. It pisses South Americans off, because it makes it seem like those from the U.S. think South Americans are unworthy of the title “American”.
13. You Can’t Eat On The Go
It’s common practise in the U.S. to grab food on the go, and eat on the way to wherever you may be headed. Or to go and take a picnic (even if it’s in the middle of downtown on the local library steps). But in countries like Rwanda and Japan, it’s considered rather strange, and pretty darn rude to eat on the go. Restaurants, diners, and specific food vending places are where the food is sold, and also where the food is meant to be consumed according to these countries. And considering how accustomed Americans are to walking and eating, and gorging on the go, it’s no real shocker that they kind of disgust many people in Rwanda and Japan. And I mean let’s be honest here anyway…it is kind of disgusting to watch someone devour most of a hoagie, while the rest just gushes out over their chin, clothing, and the ground.
12. You Can’t Say No To Food That’s Offered To You
It’s an incredible privilege in the United States that you can turn away food. Just saying no to food offered to you is something that the majority of the people in the world just can’t afford to do. That being said, most Americans will never turn away food…unless it’s something foreign, or something with the word “French” in it (that’s what Freedom Fries are for). In many, or perhaps most, Arab countries though, refusing food that’s offered to you is a very serious insult. Particularly in Lebanon, it’s not considered good manners to refuse any sort of gift. And when it comes to food, they are extra serious. Some people might think they’re saving the host some money, or some food for themselves…but all you’ll end up doing there is insulting your host.
11. No Touchy!
Alright, so personal space is a thing that exists in all countries, including the U.S. But there are some countries where it’s a little more important to respect that personal space. As shown above, there are some Americans who really don’t know how to respect someone’s personal space. And considering Trump likes to grab people by the p*ssy, he’s a good example of how invasive Americans can be. But in certain areas like China, Thailand, Korea, and the Middle East, personal space is taken a little more seriously. Hugging and random touching can be taken as insulting, and is rather offensive to many people. So when you travel, do some research so you know if shaking someone’s hand, or giving someone a hug is actually insulting or not.
10. Don’t Finish Everything On Your Plate!
So in some countries it’s rude not to accept offerings of food, and not eating through it all is almost as big an insult. And in the United States, it’s typically considered good manners to eat everything that’s on your plate. It shows your host, or cook that you truly appreciated and enjoyed the meal put in front of you. But in countries like China, Thailand, the Philippines, and Russia, this is just not the case. Though it is incredibly wasteful over time, these countries find it insulting if you eat everything on the plate. Maybe not entirely insulting, but they feel as though they have failed to properly feed you. As it turns out, clearing your plate entirely means that you must still be hungry. And given how people eat in the U.S., that probably happens more often than not in these countries.
9. Thumbs Up? Or F*ck You?
George W. Bush happened to do this a few times too, and deeply insulted many people. It turns out that the good ol’ thumbs up that is very much American, is actually quite rude in several countries. Some of these places include: the Middle East, Latin America, Western Africa, Russia, and even Greece. Giving someone a thumbs up in these places is basically the equivalent of giving them the middle finger. Essentially you’re saying “f*ck you” to a great mass of people whenever you raise that thumb.
8. At A Party In Norway, You Can Only Drink Booze You Brought Yourself
Alright, so I think Norway has got a great rule regarding alcohol that the United States should think about adopting. So you may have a group of friends you party with who are of the mind that if you bring some booze along to an event, you can then indulge in some of the other booze that’s there. It’s like a six pack of beer, or a mickey of whisky is a pass to have some wine, or cider, or a different beer…or maybe some rum. I guess it’s a sort of alcoholic barter system: bring some booze to try a different booze. And people share all the time. But in Norway, it’s considered pretty rude to start drinking booze that you didn’t personally bring along with you to a party. I think party hosts could save a lot of money in the United States if they made sure people only drank what they brought.
7. In Case You Felt Like Showing Someone The Soles Of Your Feet, Don’t
Everyone already knows the time-honoured slogan: no shoes, no shirt, no service. It’s a pretty staple given in not only the United States but in Canada as well, and many other countries considered part of the “western world”. In many Arab, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist countries however, they may not mind you walking around barefoot here, there, and everywhere. But they will mind seeing the soles of your feet. It is an incredible sign of disrespect to bare the soles of your feet to people in these countries. They are always searching for enlightenment, and wish to bare their souls…just not their soles. Because the soles of your feet are the lowest point of your body, and the dirtiest for treading the ground, they are looked at as disgusting. I suppose because it’s the one part of a person that just can’t always be raised up to the heavens.
6. Get In The Front! You’re No Better Than Me.
It’s very normal for people in the United States to simply hop in the back of a cab, and get a nice feeling as though the cabby is their chauffeur for the duration of their trip (though Americans wouldn’t say that since chauffeur is a French word). And I guess it is nice to feel a bit more privileged when hopping into a cab (even if you have to pay for it). But then again, cab drivers are also people, as some of you may know. So in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands, it’s considered very rude to ride in the back. Unless of course there are several people getting into the cab. But the general consensus in these countries is that it is more egalitarian to ride shotgun as a cab customer. So think about where you’re cabbing.
5. You Can’t Look Sloppy In Japan And Most Of Europe
What’s great about this shot is that Rihanna not only breaks one rule, but three rules of fashion standard in both Japan, and the majority of Europe. It’s part of the American way that you can bum around in whatever kind of clothing you want. It’s your right to do so. And of course you can also bum around in Japan, and the majority of Europe, but people will certainly think less of you. Wearing ball caps, sweatpants, and/or flip flops is a big faux pas in the above mentioned areas. In the States it’s perfectly acceptable…even trendy! But in many places people consider it incredibly sloppy, and therefore disrespectful not only to yourself, but to society. I kind of wish that this photo of Rihanna was taken in Europe. I know it wasn’t, but it would be amusing.
4. Even Men Can’t Be Shirtless In S. Korea
Alright, so I’m pretty sure everyone knows that it can get pretty damn toasty in South Korea. That should not be a shock to anyone. In spite of this though, they don’t care to see any topless people wandering around. There’s no way a woman would be seen topless there, but they certainly do not want to see men topless either. Even when going to the beach, you will seldom see a South Korean (male or female) without a shirt on. But beach life in the United States is all about showing off that skin. And given how little it seems a lot of Americans seem to care about the rest of the world, it should be no surprise that there’s often insult going on at South Korean beaches. All those topless American men trying to show their dominance over Korean men…even though all their doing is showing their ignorance.
3. Don’t Laugh Like A Horse…
Alright, so you know how it’s pretty disgusting and rude to eat with your mouth open in America? If you don’t know this…well then you’re pretty disgusting, and a lot of people wish you would shut your yap when you chew. Regardless, in Japan that’s not the concern. The bigger issue is laughing with your mouth open, showing off your pearly whites. Laughing in this manner is considered incredibly impolite, and people there think that you look like a horse when you do it. And it has to be said that when considering the above photo…it’s incredibly true that open-mouth laughing does seem rather horse-like. So if you have a hard time containing yourself when you’re laughing, try to avoid any silly situations when you’re visiting Japan.
2. Rude To Pocket Your Hands
Apparently not all people appreciate pocketed hands. Let’s be honest: there is only one Alanis Morissette, and while she may always have one hand in her pocket, a lot of people consider it very rude. In Turkey, and certain Asian countries like South Korea, people consider those who have their hands in their pockets not only rude, but incredibly arrogant. So it doesn’t help that Americans already have a pretty global reputation of being not only stupid, but incredibly arrogant. After all, the only country that plays in the World Series is the United States. If that doesn’t sound like arrogance…then take a look at the number of pocketed hands.
1. Don’t Tip In Japan Or Korea
You really must be careful where you decide to leave a tip in the world. In Ireland, people don’t quite understand why you’d bother, as their “tip” is included as a gratuity in your bill. So they just think you’re stupid for tipping. But in places like Japan and South Korea, workers are insulted when they are tipped. Why is that? Because they take pride in their work, and they are already compensated for that work. They don’t need to you give your American charity to them. You might think that’s strange, but the serving industry is not quite the same there. In the United States, servers are paid a ridiculously low wage, because they can beef up those wages with the tips they receive by being good workers. Americans need that added incentive to care about their work.
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