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Cultural differences

When in Rome…

Nowadays, since we no longer need to book our holidays through a travel agency, there are plenty of possibilities to plan and manage our vacations. Shaped by our society and the culture we grew up in, we travel to foreign countries. Does the “know how” come with the globalisation effect as well? Do we know both how to travel global and how to stay in line with local cultural norms? Here are some useful tips.

Italy

I found myself in a strange situation in Italy. Whenever I said “thank you” in Italian, people weren’t particularly happy about it. It turned out that I was using the Spanish word “gracias” instead of “grazie”… It is always a good idea to revise the basic vocabulary of the country we travel to. Locals will really appreciate it… if you use the correct word…

Speaking of Spanish

It is common to come a bit late if you are invited to somebody’s place. Don’t be surprised if Spanish people tap you on the arm, or give you a hug. The personal space is a “tinier” concept in terms of cubic space in Spain.

…while in Finland

People waiting at the bus stop keep a few meters distance between each other in Finland, as they value their private space. However, when Finns relax in the sauna, they wear no clothes…

Greece & Bulgaria

Nodding and shaking your head. In Greece and Bulgaria when you nod you say “no” and vice versa, when you shake your head you say “yes”. So don’t get yourself tangled in a situation you don’t want to take part in, or pay for the service you think you declined.

Thailand

Your feet…do not point your feet at other people, for example while seating. It is regarded as an insult in Thailand.

India and Muslim countries

Use your right hand while eating, handling money, or passing things to other people. The story behind this is that the left hand is used for personal hygiene. But what to do when you are a left-handed person…?

Brazil

People in Brazil speak Portuguese! It is the only country in Latin America where Spanish is not the main language. Even more to that: Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese are different. Take your time while in Brazil, if you are meeting somebody, do not come exactly on time, as you will be the only person attending the meeting for the first half an hour.

Netherlands
People are very open in the Netherlands and don’t be surprised to see things you wouldn’t expect to see at home. The most common mistake people make: Netherlands is not Holland, and here is why:

With the development of the tourism industry, we can travel more easily and almost wherever our wallet allows us. While the world goes global, local stays local, and this is why we should pay even more attention to the cultural differences. Overall, this is what makes travelling so interesting, that we vary in so many beautiful and surprising ways.

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