Many Persephoneers, including myself, love travel. Or at least they love the idea of travel, for those of us who don’t get to do much traveling. Some of the social rules I talk about are US-centric, though I like to think much of it is generally applicable. That having been said, I hereby present you with a short list of etiquette norms in other countries.
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- Spain: Kiss kiss, my friends. When I traveled here, I knew this would happen. However, when the time came to meet my host mother and she immediately went for the face, my American brain went, “TOO CLOSE! TOO CLOSE! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!” Nevertheless, between women/women and men/women kiss on the cheek. Twice. Left to right. Even if you’ve never met. So pucker up, and get ready for besos.
- Australia: Tipping is optional. I found this concept hard, but in many countries, tipping is considered simply part of the service offered, and may even be seen as patronizing. It is acceptable to tip for exceptional service, but never face-to-face. Rather, add a small amount to the bill and don’t make a big deal out of it. You also might tell a cabbie to keep the change, or throw a couple coins that you don’t want in your pocket in a tip jar.
- Japan: Mom always told me never to slurp my soup. Mom was clearly not Japanese. In fact, making slurping noises when you eat noodles in Japan is a desirable behavior. This is polite behavior and shows that you are enjoying your food.
- Egypt: Greetings are based on class, religion, and sex. But let me make it simple. Handshakes are common between men, they won’t be the firm handshake that you may be used to, and it’ll probably take longer than you’re used to. And the other person will be staring deeply into your eyes. Between men and women, the woman must initiate the handshake, otherwise the man should just bow his head in greeting. Between women, handshakes, kisses, or hugs are all possible.
Full disclosure: I just chose four places I wanted to go, learned about them, and shared the knowledge with you. Also, I’ve been very focused on the new love of my life this week, so I am cheating just a little bit and I’m putting the onus of this article back on you.
Where do you live? What customs might someone else find “strange”? Do you disagree with anything I’ve written above? Comment below!