Landing in a brand new place invariably involves culture shock and issues can range from subtle tremors to Cat 5 hurricanes. Here are seven cultural curiosities that came up in a thread I started on the discussion forum at InterNations.org.

• Long lunches followed by naps in Southern France. Everything stops between noon and 2pm.

• While it’s a double hit in France and Italy, three kisses is a common greeting among the Swiss, as well as Serbians. Although in both countries’ business circles, this practice has become unpopular in the last decade.

• Swedes always take their shoes off when entering a home. Mario actually takes his off at the office too. Make sure your socks are clean!

• Indians nod their heads in the same direction for ‘yes’ and ‘no’. A little clockwise (or counter-clockwise) movement means ‘ok’ or ‘it’s done’.

• In the Middle East, bad news is often delayed as people don’t like to criticize.

• Israel’s workweek is Sunday to Thursday.

• On Mainland China, manners can be somewhat questionable and you can find more than one YouTube video highlighting lovely things like parents letting their children relieve themselves in public. On the flip side of these bad habits, lies a boom in Western etiquette training. While it’s the nouveaux riche dropping thousands of yuan on “hostessing” courses, in October of 2014, the Chinese government even issued a strict travel advisory to the average citizen traveling abroad: Behave or be blacklisted. Here’s hoping there is a wide-reaching effect.

How have you experienced culture shock? Leave a comment below . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *