25 International Customs Even Americans Find Strange

Traveling abroad can open your eyes to a world of fascinating customs and traditions. But why do so many Americans find these practices strange when their own habits might be just as peculiar?

1. Slurping Noodles in Japan

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In Japan, slurping your noodles loudly is a sign of enjoyment and appreciation. Why do Americans think eating quietly is more polite and sophisticated?

2. Siestas in Spain

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Spaniards take an afternoon nap, known as a siesta, to recharge for the rest of the day. Why are Americans obsessed with working through their fatigue, often bragging about their lack of sleep?

3. Eating With Hands in India

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Using your hands to eat is common in India, as it signifies a deeper connection with the food. Why do Americans insist on using utensils for everything, even pizza and fries?

4. Greeting With Kisses in France

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The French greet each other with cheek kisses, a gesture of warmth and familiarity. Why do Americans stick to handshakes or awkward hugs, afraid of getting too personal?

5. Removing Shoes Indoors in Sweden

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In Sweden, it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering a home to keep it clean. Why do Americans stomp around indoors with their dirty outdoor shoes on?

6. Talking Loudly in Italy

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Italians are known for their animated and loud conversations, which they see as a sign of passion. Why do Americans often mistake this for rudeness or aggression?

7. Punctuality in Germany

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Germans are famously punctual and see it as a sign of respect and reliability. Why do Americans think it’s fashionable to be late, often seeing punctuality as uncool?

8. Bowing in South Korea

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South Koreans bow as a sign of respect and greeting. Why do Americans find this formal gesture so alien and uncomfortable?

9. Sharing Food in China

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In China, sharing food from communal dishes is a common practice that fosters community. Why do Americans get so territorial about their plates, preferring individual servings?

10. Squat Toilets in Thailand

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Squat toilets are the norm in many parts of Asia, seen as more hygienic by locals. Why do Americans find them so uncomfortable and strange, sticking to their porcelain thrones?

11. Silence in Finland

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Finns value silence and see it as a sign of comfort and trust in social interactions. Why do Americans feel the need to fill every moment with chatter, fearing awkward silences?

12. Celebrating Name Days in Greece

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Name days, celebrating the feast day of the saint one is named after, are often more important than birthdays in Greece. Why do Americans stick to just one annual birthday celebration, ignoring this meaningful tradition?

13. No Tipping in Australia

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In Australia, tipping is not expected as workers are paid fair wages. Why do Americans insist on tipping even for mediocre service, seeing it as a necessary reward?

14. Communal Baths in Turkey

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Turkish hammams (baths) are a place for socializing and relaxation. Why do Americans feel awkward about communal bathing, preferring their private bathrooms?

15. Leaving Babies Outside in Denmark

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It’s common in Denmark to leave babies in prams outside cafes to nap in the fresh air. Why do Americans worry so much about leaving their kids unattended, even for a moment?

16. Drinking Tea With Milk in the UK

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The British love their tea with milk, a comforting tradition. Why do Americans find this combination so puzzling, sticking to their black or iced tea?

17. Celebrating Winter Swimming in Russia

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Russians celebrate by swimming in icy waters as a test of endurance and tradition. Why do Americans think diving into freezing water is insane, sticking to heated pools and beaches?

18. No Personal Space in Brazil

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Brazilians have a smaller personal space bubble, seeing close contact as friendly and engaging. Why do Americans get uncomfortable with close contact, valuing their personal bubble so much?

19. Eating Guinea Pig in Peru

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Guinea pig, or cuy, is a traditional delicacy in Peru with deep cultural roots. Why do Americans get squeamish about eating unconventional meats, sticking to their chicken and beef?

20. Marriage Proposals With Pig Trotters in South Sudan

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In South Sudan, pig trotters are part of the bride price in marriage proposals. Why do Americans stick to diamonds and expensive rings, seeing them as the only acceptable symbols of engagement?

21. Two Christmases in Ukraine

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Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on January 7th due to the Orthodox calendar. Why do Americans think one Christmas is enough, rushing through the holiday season?

22. Moon Festivals in Vietnam

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Vietnamese celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with mooncakes and lanterns, a time of family reunion. Why do Americans overlook these vibrant traditions, sticking to Halloween and Thanksgiving?

23. Drinking in Public in Germany

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In Germany, it’s common to drink beer in public places without stigma. Why do Americans have strict open container laws, criminalizing public drinking?

24. Celebrating the Dead in Mexico

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Día de los Muertos is a joyful celebration of deceased loved ones in Mexico, full of color and festivity. Why do Americans have a more somber approach to death, focusing on mourning?

25. Waiting Until Christmas to Open Gifts in Italy

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In Italy, many families wait until January 6th, Epiphany, to open gifts. Why do Americans rush to open presents on December 25th, not appreciating the extended celebration?

Questioning the Norms

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Why are you so quick to judge other cultures’ customs? Maybe it’s time to take a look at your own habits and see how they measure up.

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