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Things You Do In The Western World That Are Considered Weird In Other Places

Updated November 14, 2018 9.9k views12 items

In the US we do hundreds of things every day we believe to be universal. These actions seem so natural it's hard to think someone in another part of the world would consider them weird Western customs. But people in other cultures and societies are mystified by some of the rituals and actions we view as standard - even kissing, which surely everyone loves, right?

You might already be aware of some of the phrases and gestures considered rude in foreign countries, or how bathrooms function very differently elsewhere around the world. But you might not know about the things Westerners do that other people around the globe deem flat-out bizarre. If you're traveling abroad or hosting visitors from other countries, consider this list a guide to behaviors that might signal a red flag, or easily identify you as a weird Westerner. 

  • Sitting In The Back Of A Cab

    When a taxi arrives, almost everyone in the United States will jump straight into the back of the cab. It feels safer in the back seat and gives the driver personal space. But taxi drivers in Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands consider this behavior strange.

    In those countries, passengers traveling alone will almost always ride up front with their driver - it's an egalitarian gesture. 

  • Eating With A Knife And Fork

    While people in the West aren't afraid to get their hands dirty when it comes to certain food items, such as pizza or sandwiches, it is unusual to eat many meals without cutlery. Using only your hands at a formal dinner is frowned upon, especially if you are with guests.

    However, hands-off eating isn't the standard all over the world. Eating with your hands is completely normal in some Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find any locals in India eating with a knife and fork.

  • Waving Your Hand

    Waving your hand at somebody is seen as a friendly greeting in most parts of the world. It generally means "hello," and is a polite, informal way to let others know you have seen them.

    In some places, however, this gesture could land you in hot water. In Greece and Armenia, a hand held up with the palm open is an insult to the recipient.

  • Tipping

    In the United States, controversy often arises when someone doesn’t tip or tips the wrong amount. However, tipping is not a universal custom. People from plenty of European countries and elsewhere don’t usually tip for any services, while others generally round up bills.