Cultural misconceptions: how not to offend others while abroad

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No Means Yes and Other Cultural Misconceptions

While living abroad or exploring different countries, it's typically tricky attempting to figure out what's exactly "culturally acceptable." There's nothing worse than turning down a plate of food at someone's house and suddenly you've insulted their entire family -- ancestors included. Talk about awkward!

The truth is -- different cultures often have very different views of what they consider to be polite, in addition to what they consider to be down right rude. To those foreign to that culture, slip ups are certainly easy to come by.

For instance, in Turkey, you should refuse an offer at least twice before accepting. So when it comes down to that plate of food I mentioned earlier, turning it down would probably be the best way NOT to get the death stare.

In the Netherlands, waving your hand next to your ear suggests you just had a seriously delicious meal, while in America, it means that you're probably a little coo-coo!

But if you think that's interesting -- try this on for size! In America, touching your thumb and forefinger to make an "O" shape usually means "it's all good," right? Well, in Turkey it has a seriously sexual connotation. In Belgium, France and Tunisia, it means you're calling someone a zero -- and in South Europe, it's the equivalent to giving someone the middle finger.

How's that for differentiating customs?

Avoid any awkward, humiliating and potentially offending gestures with the video guide at the top of this page -- because clearly, no doesn't always mean yes, and just because WE believe something to be acceptable, doesn't mean others do too!

Click through for the top 25 travel destinations of 2015:
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Top 25 travel destinations 2015
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Cultural misconceptions: how not to offend others while abroad

25. Sydney, Australia

(Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)

25. Sydney, Australia

 (Photo credit: GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

25. Sydney, Australia

(Photo: Simon McGill via Getty Images)

24. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

24. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

 (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

24. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

(Photo credit: MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

23. Hong Kong, China

(Photo Credit: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

23. Hong Kong, China

(Photo credit: TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

23. Hong Kong, China

(Photo Credit: Athanasios Papadopoulos/Eye Ubiquitous) 

22. Queenstown, New Zealand

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) 

22. Queenstown, New Zealand

(Photo Credit: Enzo Figueres via Getty Images)

22. Queenstown, New Zealand

 (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

21. Budapest, Hungary

(Photo Credit: Romeo Reidel via Getty Images)

21. Budapest, Hungary

(Photo credit: FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images)

21. Budapest, Hungary

(Photo Credit: Eye Ubiquitous)

20. Athens, Greece

(Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

20. Athens, Greece

(Photo Credit: Lambros Kazan via Getty Images)

20. Athens, Greece

(Photo Credit: DEA/G.Nimatallah via Getty Images)

19. Kathmandu, Nepal

(photo credit: Master2 via Getty Images)

19. Kathmandu, Nepal

(photo credit: Richard I'Anson via Getty Images)

19. Kathmandu, Nepal

(photo credit: Hiroshi Uzu via Getty Images)

18. Bangkok, Thailand

(photo credit: wnjay_wootthisak via Getty Images)

18. Bangkok, Thailand

(photo credit: Tushchakorn via Getty Images)

18. Bangkok, Thailand

(photo credit: Chamnan_K via Getty Images)

17. St. Petersburg, Russia

(photo credit: iSailorr via Getty Images)

17. St. Petersburg, Russia

(photo credit: YuriyVZ via Getty Images)

17. St. Petersburg, Russia

(photo credit: Bas Meelker via Getty Images)

16. Cusco, Peru 

(photo credit: Kelly Cheng Travel Photography via Getty Images)

16. Cusco, Peru 

(photo credit: Darrell Gulin via Getty Images)

16. Cusco, Peru 

(photo credit: Danita Delimont via Getty Images)

15. Ubud, Indonesia

(photo credit: John Harper via Getty Images)

15. Ubud, Indonesia

(photo credit: Mykola Velychko via Getty Images)

15. Ubud, Indonesia

(photo credit: telnyawka via Getty Images)

14. Goreme, Turkey

(photo credit: asafta via Getty Images)

14. Goreme, Turkey

(photo credit: N Eisele-Hein/Look-foto via Getty Images)

14. Goreme, Turkey

(photo credit: Michael Marquand via Getty Images)

13. Barcelona, Spain

(photo credit: Mapics via Getty Images)

13. Barcelona, Spain

(photo credit: Tetra Images)

13. Barcelona, Spain

(photo credit: Getty Images)

12. Zermatt, Switzerland

(photo credit: NattyPTG via Getty Images)

12. Zermatt, Switzerland

(photo credit: Scott Markewitz via Getty Images)

12. Zermatt, Switzerland

(photo credit: Hans-Peter Merten via Getty Images)

11. New York City, United States 

(photo credit: Getty Images)

11. New York City, United States 

(photo credit: zxvisual)

11. New York City, United States 

(photo credit: daoleduc via Getty Images)

10. Cape Town Central, South Africa 

(photo credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF)

10. Cape Town Central, South Africa 

(photo credit: Paul Bruins Photography via Getty Images)

10. Cape Town Central, South Africa 

(photo credit: JaySi via Getty Images)

9. Paris, France

(photo credit: franckreporter via Getty Images)

9. Paris, France

(photo credit: PhotoAlto/Sandro Di Carlo Darsa via Getty Images)

9. Paris, France

(photo credit: Ed Freeman via Getty Images)

8. Buenos Aires, Argentina

(photo credit: Robin Smith via Getty Images)

8. Buenos Aires, Argentina

(photo credit: Pablo Caridad via Getty Images)

8. Buenos Aires, Argentina

 (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/LatinContent/Getty Images)

7. Rome, Italy 

(photo credit: Getty Images/Vetta)

7. Rome, Italy 

(photo credit: Simon Watson via Getty Images)

7. Rome, Italy 

(photo credit: Michael Sugrue via Getty Images)

6. London, United Kingdom

(photo credit: Joe Daniel Price)

6. London, United Kingdom

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

6. London, United Kingdom

(photo credit: extravagantni via Getty Images)

5. Prague, Czech Republic

(photo credit: Frank Chmura via Getty Images)

5. Prague, Czech Republic

(photo credit: FUTURE LIGHT via Getty Images)

5. Prague, Czech Republic

(photo credit: Henryk Sadura via Getty Images)

4. Hanoi, Vitenam

(photo credit: JA Knight via Getty Images)

4. Hanoi, Vitenam

(photo credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF)

4. Hanoi, Vitenam

(photo credit: Mehmet Salih Guler via Getty Images)

3. Istanbul, Turkey

(photo credit: Ondrej Cech via Getty Images)

3. Istanbul, Turkey

(photo credit: Bertl123 via Getty Images)

3. Istanbul, Turkey

(photo credit: Gary Yeowell via Getty Images)

2. Siem Reap, Cambodia

(photo credit: Peter Stuckings via Getty Images)

2. Siem Reap, Cambodia

(photo credit: Peter Stuckings via Getty Images)

2. Siem Reap, Cambodia

(photo credit: Dennis K. Johnson via Getty Images)

1. Marrakech, Morocco

(photo credit: Pazhyna via Getty Images)

1. Marrakech, Morocco

(photo credit: Chris Cross via Getty Images)

1. Marrakech, Morocco

(photo credit: Peter Phipp via Getty Images)

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