Saturday, February 17, 2024

20 American customs that are offensive in the rest of the world

MagazineTravel tips20 American customs that are offensive in the rest of the world

When you traveling to distant parts of the world it is very easy to get carried away and forget the numerous cultural differences. Find out what all the gestures and customs typical in American culture aren’t accepted in other countries.


Even just a few minutes of delay is unacceptable in many countries (such as Germany), let someone to wait is interpreted as a sign that your time is more worthy than the time of others.

Arrival on time

On the other hand, in the countries of Latin America, especially in Argentina, it is rude if you arrive right on time to the dinner with someone .

Hands in pockets

This gesture is considered rude in Turkey as well as in some Asian countries, such as South Korea.

Consuming food “on feet”

In Rwanda and Japan it is rude to eat in any place that isn’t a restaurant, bar or hotel. This applies in particular to the streets and public transport. Although the same rule should apply in Serbia, many don’t adhere to it.

Laughing with your open mouth

In Japan, laughing with an open mouth (during which yout  teeth can see) considered to be rude, just as loud chewing food with your mouth open bothering to the Americans.

Use your left hand for anything

In some cultures they don`t use toilet paper instead of that they use their left hand to wash underneath. Using left hand in the Middle East, Africa, India and Sri Lanka will leave therefore the same effect as a slap in the face.

Raising thumb up ( ‘OK’ sign)

Maybe you showing this gesture harmless, but in West Africa, Russia, Greece, Latin America and the Middle East it is equated with showing the middle finger.


In Japan and South Korea tipping is considered an insult – workers believe they are paid enough for the job and take pride in the fact that you are doing good.

Sitting in the backseat of a taxi

In Australia, New Zealand, parts of Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands, it’s an insult if you don’t sit in the front seat. It’s about egalitarianism.

Opening gifts the same time when we get it

In most Asian countries, especially India and China, unpacking gifts from the person who give it to you is considered bad etiquette because the recipient look greedily.

Also, Americans will no hesitation to accept any gift, favor or an invitation, often without providing anything in return, but in many cultures are expected to politely refuse a gift several times before finally accepting it.

Showing skin

In South Korea, you will hardly see in public places man in topless  because members of the stronger sex here shirts worn even on the beach. Showing the soles is considered offensive in Arab, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu cultures.

Too leisurely Clothing / Shoes

Although there are a common sight, wearing flip flops, caps or sweatshirts in public places, it is

unacceptable in Japan, as in many parts of Europe.

Taking off the shoes

In most of Asia, and the Caribbean, it is considered rude if you don’t take off your shoes when entering at someone’s home.

Indulging guests to serve themselves

Away the knowledge that they should feel at home is foreign to many Asian cultures.

Adding spice in meals

In France, Italy, Spain and Japan can offend the host if prepared meals you want to spice further – thus sending the message that aren’t enough delicious. Therefore, it would be best to refrain unless spices are not already set out on the table.

Indulging guests to serve themselves

Giving away the knowledge that they should feel at home is foreign to many Asian cultures.

Refusing food

Americans often refuse to eat at home to host your stay easier, but this practice in Lebanon is considered extremely offensive. Also, completing the meal to the last crumbs in America by the host indicates that the prepared meal was very tasty, while in China, Russia, Thailand and the Philippines, it means that you are still hungry and want more food.

Don’t drink others alcohol

If you were invited to a party in Norway, don’t drink alcohol that you aren’t alone bring. On the other hand, if you are in the United States and someone calls on the grill, bring a pack of beer and without a guilty conscience to drink anything else.

Body contact

Hugging or touching people in any is  way offensive in China, Thailand, North and South Korea, and in the Middle East. Respect other people’s personal space, however, but this differs from country to country.

Setting up certain issues

Questions such as ‘What is your occupation?’ seems offensive in some countries, especially those with high standards like the Netherlands because it is associated with labeling people or considered classist.

Dumping your nose

Dumping your nose in a public place in countries such as China, Japan, France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia not only considered rude but also disgusting.

Most Popular