People Share 37 Things You Should Never Do In Their Country
Here’s a mind-blowing nugget of truth that y’all probably already know, Pandas: life in different countries is, well, different. Shocker, right? But the fact of the matter is that we can’t expect everyone to behave and communicate the same way as the folks in our comfort zone, social circle, and hometown. When you go abroad, there’s a whole set of hidden rules you have to abide by. Obviously, it’s hard to even be aware of what you might be doing wrong at the start.
Luckily for us, the r/AskEurope online community over on Reddit has spelled it out loud and clear in two threads. The locals from various European countries shared the ‘faux pas’ that some visitors do and stressed what behaviors you should avoid and what you should never ever say. It’s educational. It’s fun. It’s going to go great with a cup of coffee. And it’s a great reminder to never call someone from Scotland “English.”
Remember to upvote the best responses as you scroll down, and tell us all about what tourists shouldn’t ever do when visiting your home country in the comments, Pandas. Think of it as a gentle way to remind everyone to be on their best behavior. Meanwhile, check out Bored Panda's interview about what to never do when visiting the United Kingdom with comedy writer and self-proclaimed Insta story addict Ariane Sherine from London. (Pssst, she also revealed what'd happen if you actually do end up calling someone from Scotland "English.")
Doing the nazi greeting, denying the holocaust or joke about it. I'm German and a shocking amount of Americans I met found it funny to go "oh you're german, sieg heil!" Just nein.
Each country has its own particular character if you will. You’d probably never mix up an Englishman with a Frenchman, though if you do, they’d probably both get mad at you. Quelle horreur!
Comedy writer Ariane shared some of the things you should definitely avoid doing and saying if you end up visiting the UK.
"Asking people their salary is a bit of a faux pas. They probably won't tell you and will think you're odd! Don't say anything anti-Britain or anti-British (we can say it, but you can't, even if we secretly agree with you). Never be mean to an animal: that's one of the absolute worst things you can do in Brits' eyes (which is a bit inconsistent as 86% of us are meat-eaters). Being overly loud won't make you any friends either. And never, ever talk to strangers on the Tube!" she shared, stressing that when you're underground, you should mind yourself, not just the gap.
Germany: Asking about someone's well being just for small talk is rude. When you ask how people feel, be willing to listen.
Don't mention Hitler or other famous Nazis in public spaces. U may get yourself in a awkward situation. It's kind of like Voldemort in Harry Potter. U just dont mention these names in public.
Be as respectful as possible when visiting Memorials of the war, especially concentration camps. I grew up in Dachau so I've had the pleasure of meeting and seeing people from all kinds of places but foreigners sometimes seem to underestimate how much of a sensitive place these camps are for germans. I'm talking about taking pictures of yourself and your travelling partners in the camp and not turning off your phone while watching a short documentary which are being offered in Dachau. It's not natural even for western standards that countries with a horrible past are as open and inviting in terms of learning about their war crimes and so on like germany. Don't try to be judgemental when visting those sites (apart from judging the fkn nazis ofc) but rather be thankful that you've been given the opportunity to see and learn about these atrocities in person.
According to Ariane, it's easy to spot someone who's not a local wandering about in London because they're a lot friendlier. "It's not always easy, but cameras and large backpacks are often a sign of a tourist. So are sunglasses, which are generally not strictly needed due to our terrible overcast weather, and (cliché alert) socks with sandals," she quipped.
We were incredibly curious to learn how bad it would be to call someone "English" if they're from Scotland. Here's Ariane's take on how much of an insult that would be: "About the same as calling a Canadian an American! It won't make you popular," she said that you really shouldn't do this.
Ireland: Don't say no to an old woman who is offering you a cup of tea.
Don't say that Ukraine is part of Russia.
Don't call us russians when you hear our language or see Cyrillic.
Never, ever call anyone from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland “English”.
Bored Panda also wanted to get Ariane's opinion on just how European the UK actually is, culturally speaking. You see, it's a bit hard to gauge things with Brexit and all.
"Well, London is very European in terms of its diversity and culture. It's the most multicultural city in Europe and all the better for it, and most big UK cities are similar. The less said about the rest of England and Wales's attitude towards Europe, the better, frankly!" Ariane told us.
Denmark: Not a **huge** no, but please don't call people Mr/Ms [LastName] unless they're old enough to have experienced the Napoleonic wars.
Practically everyone in Denmark is on a first name basis, up to and including the prime minister. Different rules for the Queen, but if you chance upon the Crown Prince in an informal setting, he prefers the informal tone, too.
Ireland: Never get off a bus without thanking the driver is a big one here that has got me the occasional odd look when outside of Ireland.
Sweden: Go into someone’s house with your outdoor footwear on.
"But I think mainland Europe is a lovely forgiving place, as evidenced by our runner-up place in Eurovision. I'm pretty sure most of Europe know that a lot of us wanted to remain in the EU and that the vote was very close. At least, I hope they do...?!"
It'd probably be a sin not to ask a Brit about the weather, and Ariane was kind enough to share what's outside her window at the moment: "It's very variable here!"
Finland: Violating personal space. Like sitting next to someone in the bus if there are empty seat rows. Being closer than like 2 meters to someone at a bus stop without a reason. Talking to strangers with no apparent motivation or reason.
Bad behavior in Sauna. There should be no arguing and provocations, no sexual approaches, no farting.
Thinking we are Russians. This happens more with foreigners who have very little knowledge about Finland. And it's not that Finnish people dislike Russian people, but our entire history has been defined by trying to be distinct from Russia. First being a buffer zone of Sweden against Novgorod/Russia, then trying to be independent of Russian Empire and then trying to defend ourselves against Soviet Union. Saying we are Russians is like erasing much of our history.
Italy: Please don't sing Bella Ciao in a joking way. It's a serious song about Resistence against the fascists. La Casa de Papel did a disaster with that song.
Please don't call us mafiosi, even if you're joking, much less if you use the Godfather as a major source of info about italians.
Italians are very talkative people so if you're not used to strangers approaching you it may shock you a little. Don't be scared tho, many italians are just curious about tourists and would be pretty offended if you just ignored them!
This is what comes to my mind at least
Ireland: Go to everyone’s funeral. If a friend’s distant aunt twice removed dies, you turn up.
In Ireland if you are out to lunch or dinner with family you must literally fight or deceive them so that you can pay for it. If you don't try then you are a bad person. In England I found that people thought it was rude and awkward when I kept trying to pay!
My granny is a pro at this. One time when we were eating dinner in a restaurant, she went to the bathroom during the meal. I saw my chance, and ran to the cashier to pay. I was stonewalled. My granny had already told the staff in her local restaurant not to let me pay. Absolute pro.
Also on another occasion my mother literally fell over and hurt her knee because she was racing her sister to the cashier.
In France: not saying hello to the shopkeeper/ the other clients in small shops. This is particularly true in smaller cities.
I've seen many tourists forget to do this and they usually end up receiving poor customer service.
Estonia: Associating us with today's Russia or the old Soviet Russia. Bad memories.
Romania: Never ever bring someone an even number of flowers (it is reserved for the dead)
Spain: do not assume that flamenco is the national culture. IT IS A SOUTHERN THING. In absolutely every TV show in the UK that takes place in Spain (and there are many) they insist on playing flamenco sounding music even when the show is about Catalonia, Galicia or the Basque Country, for example. It is infuriating.
Romania: Not giving the old people your seat in the bus/tram.
Most countries are: do not mistake us for a different nationality, do not mention bad parts of our history
Italians: DO NOT PUT THE WRONG STUFF ON TOP OF OUR FOOD
Queuing is the obvious one in the UK. Not understand our (apparently complicated) queuing systems is generally taken as being a faux pas. To Brits all the rules are just obvious but apparently the little things beyond "stand in the line and wait your turn" are hard for some foreigners.
Another would be, if you bump into someone there's a good chance they will apologise. You do not accept this, you apologise back. Everyone knows it's your fault, but you will probably both apologise. This does not mean the other person believes they are at fault.
Wearing your outside shoes indoors, seriously who does that? Calling the icelandic horse a pony just because it's small, that might not be true for everyone though just people that are into horses. Jokes about accidentally sleeping with your cousin, we have a small population but we know our cousins.
Edit to add:
Off-road driving is illegal and people have been fined and made to fix what they ruined. The landscape is delicate and there's been a lot of work in the last few decades to grow the areas that are full of sand. When icelandic people talk about off-road driving it's not off-road driving, we follow paths that should be visible to just about anyone.
In the UK:
* Using the wrong national label for someone.
* Skipping ahead in a queue
* Similar to above, attempting to get served at a pub before someone who was at the bar before you.
* Being that person who takes part in rounds in a pub but never gets one themselves
* Standing on the left on an escalator in London
* Starting a conversation about religion or politics with someone you don't know, unless it is very context appropriate e.g. in a church/political rally.
In Portugal, taking your shoes off in someone else's home would be weird as f*ck. There's obviously exceptions, like if the host is close family or a very close friend and you've asked permission, but to take the shoes off out of the blue when entering would be seen as disrespectful.
Saying that our language sounds like Russian. There *will* be violence.
Saying that we are Eastern European.
Especially around older people, saying *anything* bad about Pope John Paul II. He's like a second God to some of them. That makes any conversation about pedophilia in Catholic Chruch especially difficult, since he didn't do much about it. Current government calls every person trying to criticise The Polish Pope a danger to our nation, our culture and our independence. Don't ask me how, I have no idea. But sadly, due to our propaganda TV called TVP(iS), people believe that.
Wow, by making a comment about big No No's in Poland I managed to end up criticising our government. Guess this subject is inevitable.
Serbia: DO. NOT. TALK. ABOUT. THE. WARS. A lot of people here lost people in the Yugo wars, also you will start a shitload of fights
Putting sauce on your Schnitzel is considered a hate crime in Austria.
Saying Holland is the same as the Netherlands
Saying the Netherlands are the same or somehow linked to Belgium
Always, always get your round in. People are not buying you drinks for free; they expect one back.
Austria: The usual, as with most countries:
- Calling us [bigger, neighbouring nationality or people group that speaks the same or a similar language].
(Seriously, we are not Germans. Yes, we all know, we would have been considered as such 100 years ago, but it is in fact not 100 years ago. Believe us, if we say that we are not Germans, we mean that, and we know the history behind it. Don't try to teach us as to why we are acktually "ethnically" or "genetically" or whatever, Germans. Not only is that incorrect, but you'll look and sound like a fool.)
- Doing [certain taboo gesture] or expressing favourable views towards [historical totalitarian or autocratic regime, which is viewed very negatively nowadays].
(Seriously, don't do the Hitler salute here, it's not edgy, but only incredibly shitty. Also it's not only incredibly unfunny and unoriginal, but also incredibly illegal. And you might get punched in the face, and you would deserve it.)
- Eating [national food] wrong.
Doing the "Italian accent" like Super Mario. It doesn't sound like an Italian trying to speak english, it sounds like a very very dumb Italian trying to speak English. It amazes me how much Americans love to mock Italians.
Also pineapple on pizza.
Estonia: Violating personal space. We might not say anything but you certainly won’t be making a friend. We’re massive introverts for a reason.
Also don’t call us or any other baltic countries russian or imply anything similar, there’s a lot of bad history there and quite frankly it’s a bit offensive.
Turkey: Do NOT say "Oh, i thought you would be speaking arabic." or " I didnt know women were allowed to not wear hijabs."
Denmark: Bragging is VERY frowned upon here. Alot will cite the law of Jante should you do it, and even more people will think of it.
The law of Jante is basically a long list of sentences which exclaim that you are nothing compared to the collective.
"You are not more than us."
"Don't think you are smarter than us."
If you think of the ten commandments but all centered around you being small and nothing then you're more or less there.
If it's your birthday you bring cake to work. When it's someone else's birthday they will bring the cake. Yes, I'm serious. No, it doesn't make sense.
Spain: Talk about politics. You could lose friends because of that, since people here are heavily divided, because, whatever some guy say, the Civil War wounds are far from healed.
Invading people's personal space in public (Norway). It's fine to ask for directions or something practical but other than that...