1. Mainland China: Do not buy traditional Chinese silk clothes and from a shop that also sells wreath. (no matter how beautiful they are) Those clothes are for dead people, and that shop is a shroud shop. You have no idea how horrifying to see a foreigner wearing them and walking down the street.
2. Vietnam – commit to crossing the road. I know it looks scary due to the endless scooter stampede but if you just cross at a steady pace, they’ll avoid you. Do not try to dodge or make sudden movements, you will get your ass hit and there will be no sympathy.
3. In Malaysia, it is absolutely normal for someone to ask you what race you are. It’s not meant to be offensive, just general curiousity.
4. Finland: Do not go too near anyone. Our personal space is huge.
5. When going to a friend’s house and the family offers you have dinner with them, it is impolite to say no. Also, they would insist that you stay over in case you’ve had too much a lambanog and will give you the next best mattress they have. Before you leave, accept the leftover they give should you be hungry on your way back home.
Filipino hospitality at its essence.
6. In America, if you rent a bike, you should be aware that even if the bike lane is painted onto the street in a rainbow pattern with flashing neon lights, nobody gives a shit. You are not safe in the bike lane.
7. I’m gonna give you guys some guidelines for southern Italy anyway:
- Be loud!
- If someone is doing it, you can do it too.
- Whatever you need, most people would love to help you, but usually have no clue on how to communicate with you. Make sure you appreciate the effort, no matter how clumsy.
- Both guys and girls say hi with a kiss on each cheek.
- No such thing as personal space.
- If you’re driving, be extremely careful. Everything is supposed to be an advice, not actual laws. (I mean everything is supposed to be laws, is just taken as an advice).
- If you happen to have some friend’s mother or grandmother cook for you, make sure you compliment her thoroughly and clearly state that you never had such an amazing meal wherever you’re from (there’s a reasonable chance that could actually be true).
- If you’re clubbing, don’t randomly approach girls, unless you really know what you’re doing. Guys tend to be overprotective with the girls that “belong” to their group.
- If you’re a girl, you’re gonna get hit on no matter what. Try not to be too rude and just dismiss the guy laughing about it.
- We wear shoes in the house. Unless you’re hanging out with a younger crowd (then it’s completely fine to get your shoes off) keep your shoes on.
- You can drink wherever you please
- Don’t wear white socks with sandals, you’re gonna be laughed at. Either wear shoes or sandals with no socks.
- If you show any sort of effort of speaking Italian, you’re gonna be loved for it.
- I’m pretty sure this covers most of the basics, if anyone is curious we could get into more detail.
8. Singaporean here!
You are allowed to wear Flip flops and shorts wherever you go. The fancy city area? Flip flop and Shorts are perfect. That 5 star hotel? Flip flops are welcomed. Public transport? You are weird if you do not wear them.
9. Denmark: DO NOT STAND OR WALK IN THE BIKELANE! You will get yelled at and/or run over.
10. I live in Japan. When riding an escalator, everyone stands on the left if they’re going to stand so that people that want to walk can pass by on the right.
11. New Zealand – You don’t go tramping if you don’t know anything about the weather or the tramp (tramp=overnight hike).
12. I live in Korea. Off the top of my head:
- people are going to touch / gently push / bump into you in public places, without saying anything like “excuse me” or the Korean equivalent – this is a crowded place, get used to it
- small talk with clerks or whatever in public places is not expected and is downright strange
- you should always be extra deferential to elders, especially if you’re young (say under 30) (giving them your seat on the subway, letting them cut the line, things like that)
- people will ask you your age not because they’re rude, but because in Korea it’s important for establishing how they should address you when they speak
- The eldest person at the table should start eating first. Don’t pick up your chopsticks / spoon / whatever until s/he’s done so and clearly started eating.
- Never leave the table until the eldest person has finished or given some signal that it’s ok to leave, like saying the equivalent of “that was delicious.”
- Soup on the right, rice on the left. Use your spoon for rice and soup, chopsticks for side dishes (kimchi, etc.).
- Never stick your chopsticks into your rice and leave them there sticking out, as this is reminiscent of something done at a ritual for honoring ancestors and makes people think of death.
- If younger, do not speak while eating a meal until spoken to by elders. (in formal situations)
- For shared side dishes / broths / etc., do not mix things together, pick something up with your chopsticks and then leave it in the bowl, that sort of thing.
- If younger and drinking alcohol, turn away from your elders when you take a sip.
- If drinking alcohol, monitor your elders’ glasses and always offer to re-fill it for them. Do not ask for a re-fill / fill your own glass. When filling someone else’s, pour with two hands on the bottle or either pour with one hand holding the bottle and the other touching your arm (a sign of respect).
- PDAs are frowned upon, even minor things like a long kiss
- same-gender touching/hugging/holding hands is common, without there being any sort of homosexual connotation
- men should avoid going shirtless in public, even when exercising or running or something like that (some guys even keep their shirts on at the beach, and not because they’re overweight or something)
13. UK. You never, ever, jump a queue.
14. I’m from Macedonia. Don’t live in Macedonia.
15. Ireland (and maybe the UK) Penneys (Primark) is the largest, cheapest clothes store you can find in any major town or city. No matter what you want, they have it.
You do not go to Penneys to have a good time. There’s no leisurely browsing here. Penneys is the fucking IKEA of the fashion world. You get in and you get out or it will destroy your soul.
No matter what time you go, it will be busy. The aisles fit approx. 1 person, and there will be prams. There will be one dress of your size on the rack if you’re lucky. The hangers won’t match the size, so you’ll have to flick through every dress looking at the tag to find it. Do not be surprised if the entire rack is the smallest size. If there’s a sale, everything will be a tangled mess. Approach it like you would Black Friday.
Irish children are already angry coming into Penneys. They know. Expect screaming and tears, and angry mothers who will snap at them or you, depending on which enters their personal space first.
You’ll be queueing behind 20 people and all of them will be buying a whole new wardrobe. Don’t look on either side of you. Penneys will try to tempt you with more things (and abandoned potential purchases) on your journey, both in your reach and just far enough away to make you leave the queue. If you stay the course, you can be out of there in ten minutes.
16. Alright, so here’s some French stuff, specifically Parisian.
ALWAYS greet the people working in a shop with bonjour. Even if you don’t speak to them again or leave without buying anything, you also have to say au revoir. It’s rude not to.
French waiters might seem rude to some, but they’re just doing their job, and that doesn’t include the whole dog and pony show pretend to be your friend thing. They want to know what you want, they want to bring it to you, then they want to collect your money. In fancy restaurants it’s a little more formal but in cafés don’t be offended if you have to flag them down to get another coffee. They don’t have time to hover around twice or three times while you make up your mind on what you want. It’s not personal, they’re just busy and don’t see making friends as part of their job.
If you’re staying with French people, always ask if they need help in the kitchen. They will refuse, but you’re expected to get up and help anyway. They might still protest, but you should still try to do the dishes or something.
In many metro cars, the doors still have a manual open signal. If you’re closest to the exit door, you’re expected to twist the lever and make it open. Do this just a second before the train actually stops to look like a local. And push down hard, those things are tougher than you would think to activate.
If you accidentally make eye contact with a random person on the street, don’t smile. You will be considered a weirdo.
If you want to rent a car in France and can’t drive stick, you have to go to the airport. If you speak good enough French the clerk will make fun of you for not being able to drive a stick.
To successfully drive in Paris, you have to drive like a total asshole. None of this polite waiting for a gap in traffic to turn left. Just fucking go for it and expect everyone else to stop. No one is insured at the arc de triomphe, so drive through that particular roundabout at your own risk. Nobody honks except in huge emergencies. And if traffic is suddenly stopped in front of you, turn on your hazards.
- our waiters usually earn above minimum wage, so you never tip more than 15%, normally 10% for small amounts and a bit less for larger bills.
- on the escalator, if you want to stand, stand on the right side and let others pass left.
- if you rent a bike, don’t drive like your own granny, drive fast and if you want to pause, get off the bike lane. Also, don’t walk on our fucking bike lanes, they are clearly marked (blue signs with a white bike and mostly red paint on the bike lane). If you approach a tram or bus stop, brake and let people get on and off the train.
- queue from the right at things like a burger joint so that passer-byes are not blocked. At museums, trains or the airport, queue frontally.
- yes, it is common to encounter nude people of all ages in the sauna or at some lakes or even at some few parks in the city. Don’t stare and for god’s sake don’t comment on this.
- not everyone here is from Bavaria or thinks Bavaria is great. Likewise, not everyone loves beer and sausages.
- and don’t mention the war, k?
18. In Canada, we’re not all super friendly. And we’re super sorry about that.