Like a Local
Cultural differences are always interesting to learn about. But did you know about these ones?
It is true that these days, cultural differences are fading slightly considering we live in a globalised world and are all connected. Still, some things, habits or manners are appreciated no matter how much we think we know a country and its people. We've listed a few peculiar and interesting cultural aspects to bear in mind.
Are they true? Would you follow them?
Ah, La Bella Italia, the place for pizza, gelato, cappuccino, right? Yes, but not always or all day long.
Take the humble cup of cappuccino, for example. Italians know you are a tourist if you order the drink after 10am. Cappuccino is a beverage that locals will drink only with their breakfast. After that is espresso all the way. Not that you should mind, but we think you should know.
The pizza. Nothing screams Italy more than a plate of pizza. But Italians usually eat them in the evening, at a restaurant, with friends. It is not very Italian to eat a take away pizza and at lunch time, for instance. But if that is what you fancy, go for it.
I was surprised to learn that it is considered an offense to take a bottle of wine to your host's house when you are invited for dinner. I was wondering where this comes from and had to ask a few friends to explain this intriguing habit. It seems that, unless you know what type of dish will be served, you should not bring wine. Another friend from Portugal said this is old fashion etiquette and she would be very happy if someone brought her a bottle. If you feel unsure, take a bunch of flowers, but not red which symbolises the revolution nor lilies which are associated to funerals. If it gets too complicated, just take your lovely self. Who cares?
A very well known one, but if you can, try to speak French when in France. Let's face it, it really is a little pedantic to walk into a shop or restaurant in another country and assume everyone there will speak English. Even if you don't speak their language it is polite to try or at least acknowledge it. This applies to any country, but we think the French makes it clearer that they care.
Insta people beware: please ask the shop keeper if you are allowed to take pictures of their business and shops. A more laissez faire attitude is seeing in the UK, but the French will appreciate if you ask permission for a shot and resent a little if you don't.
Went to a great restaurant but cannot finish your plate? In some countries, like the USA, it is acceptable and expected to ask to take the leftover home. Not here. So, make sure you clean your plate.
Ok. I could write a whole book about this one, but a few stereotypes are in fact, true and I leave you with two very important ones. Weather talking truly is a wonderful way to start a conversation. You will be amazed by the long time you can spend talking about a concept that, to me, means either good weather or bad weather. So many nuances to it, it is fascinating.
Queues. This is serious business. Do not, ever, under no circumstances jump the queue. If you do it by mistake, apologise profusely as many times as you can. Be aware of queues even at the bus stop. Strange, I know.
Ultimately and fortunately, these cultural differences matter less and less today. People are much more relaxed than they used to be and some of these stereotypes are just a bit of fun. Being respectful of a culture and keep on being curious to learn about the world usually is the best policy anywhere you go.
Do let us know if you know of any cultural difference that is considered unusual or fun.