Every country has habits and social norms that may not translate well to other cultures. Here are 10 American behaviors found offensive by those outside of the US.
Number 10. Calling the United States 'America.'
The Americas are a very big place, as they are comprised of 2 large continents. People outside of the US, and particularly in South America, often take offense to one nation claiming, albeit inadvertently, rights to the whole, enormous land mass.
Number 9. Being in public when wearing sweatpants and flip-flops.
Though the comfy garments are a big part of many wardrobes here in the United States, there are places, like most of Europe and all of Japan, where that particular level of casual is deemed disrespectful.
Number 8. Accepting gifts too willingly.
In China, it's established that one should humbly decline 3 times before grabbing the goods. Many other places aren't necessarily that specific about the etiquette, but do generally encourage at least some resistance be expressed.
Number 7. Opening gifts in front of the giver.
Americans plan entire events around opening newly received presents, but in both China and India it's customary to wait until later. When you're alone is preferred, but, at minimum, one should contain themselves until the person who did the giving has left.
Number 6. Giving someone or something a thumbs up.
In numerous regions, including West Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Europe, the gesture is the equivalent of flipping the bird. In other places, it's simply considered crude and adolescent.
There is, perhaps, no place more romantic than the city of the most famous lovers in history --- Romeo and Juliet. The balcony of Juliet’s house became a tourist attraction, especially for lovers. The balcony overlooks a small courtyard which is often full of young lovers, kissing under the balcony and taking photos of Juliet’s statue. The walls are adorned with graffiti and love messages. Tradition says that everyone who visits the house should leave something for Juliet, so the house is packed with love notes, small jewelry and more. The legend is that by writing on the walls known as “Juliet’s walls,” the visitor will have everlasting love. Whether traveling with a new travel companion or visiting with a TripTogether local member, the House of Juliet should certainly be a local worth exploring.
The folklore of the Loch Ness Monster began in 1933 and has been a travel myth ever since. Locals have said that visitors to Scotland visit the sight to search for this legendary creature. While some locals have noticed visions in the waters, it’s the thrill of the search that adds to the fun and excitement.
A 15th century gothic house with three bricked over windows sits in the city of Kotor, Montenegro. Legend has it that three beautiful sisters would look at the sea and pray for the safe return of their beloved, as all were in love with the same one man. The young man, a captain named Janko, couldn’t decide which sister to marry, so he embarked on a long sail to clear his mind and make his choice. He told the sisters that the one who waited for him the longest would become his bride.
The sisters waited patiently at their own window. Years went by. The sisters were getting older. When the first sister passed away, the other two decided to brick over her window so that Janko knows that one is not waiting any longer. The second sister dies and the youngest bricks over her window. When the youngest passed away, there was no one to brick over her window, so it remained open. Janko never returned and was lost forever.
TripTogether.com members have specifically enjoyed visiting this part of the Kotar Bay to enjoy the beautiful scenery and make a wish for love.
Native Americans have considered the arid deserts of Sedona, Arizona sacred spots for healing and worship. This believe stems from the original Pilgrims who searched for spiritual and physical healing. They journeyed to the Southwest to consult with shamans on a variety of matters --- mostly to find answers in the energies of the desert. Today, TripTogether members visit Sedona to take part in retreats to learn New Age ways to harness the powers into daily health and well-being. The scenery is simply spectacular.
A sacred sight built by the Incas in 1490, Machu Picchu offers more than 200 buildings, temples, houses, pathways, fountains and altars all cut from grey granite from the mountain top. Myth has it that the sight could have been built for astronomical observations having to do with the two equinoxes and other celestial events --- the stone being a gateway to a spiritual world. Whether hiking the pyramids of Machu Picchu or taking photographs, TripTogether.com members know that this is a travelers dream location.
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Number 5. Asking people what they do.
Really, not the best conversation starter anywhere, as it implies questions concerning income, status, and relative importance, but seriously not appreciated in nations with more holistic views on society.
Number 4. Assuming everyone in the world speaks English.
Clearly, many countries have common, and sometimes official, languages of their own. Further, while a number of non-native English speakers do learn the language, their skills may not be perfect. Some are reluctant to use it for fear of being judged.
Number 3. Chatting up a storm.
There are places and situations where keeping quiet is the appropriate action. Among them are Sweden and Finland's saunas and some dinner tables in Japan, China, Thailand, and parts of Africa.
Number 2. Public nose blowing.
This is a huge 'don't' in France, Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia. It's deemed disgusting in general, and even more so in Japan if one employs a handkerchief rather than a single-use tissue.
Number 1. Tipping.
Restaurants abroad often include the gratuity in the check or pay their servers' salaries themselves. While waiters in Europe may be touched by tourists' thoughtfulness, those in Japan are decidedly less likely too see things that way. There, leaving additional money can be considered an insult. Which potentially offensive American behaviors are you most surprised by?