As many of a our translators and interpreters will tell you, while travelling for work is the ultimate work, it’s often unnerving to step into a new country, area or culture you’re unfamiliar with. So we’ve got a few tips for getting comfortable in with your new surroundings. When travelling to a new country, you should learn about the various cultural codes before visiting. They can come as a surprise if you don’t know them but in any case you have to adapt to the country you are visiting. Here are a few things you might not know…
Meeting & Greeting
In Japan, many of the shopkeepers will greet you by bowing at you. They are not used at all to kisses or hugs, any real physical
Still in Japan, giving present every time you go to see someone is a habit. When a new neighbour is moving into the building, you should welcome them by offering something, even if you don’t know him at all. It is a welcome gift.
In France, it is habit to buy each other gifts. When a gift is given, they often say that the person shouldn’t have bought it: ‘oh no, you shouldn’t have! ’ But in reality if you visit someone’s home empty handed, it is seen as very rude.
In China, to say ‘enjoy your meal’ you say 慢慢吃 ‘màn màn chi’, which literally means to ‘eat very slowly’. They use this sentence because they believe that to truly appreciate your meal, you should eat it slowly.
In America, after eating at a restaurant, you have to give a tip to the waiter. In many countries it is optional however in the United States it is almost compulsory; it is part of their culture.
Italians never eat rice on it’s, without anything in it. They always put something with it otherwise it is seen that you are ill.
Colours hold great significance in some countries so it is important to understand their meaning. For example in France, black is linked to bereavement while in Malaysia it is white. In most African countries, purple represents voodooism while in the Mediterranean it often represents power or authority.
In China when you are given a gift, you often don’t respond by thanking the person because, you know that they give it to you willingly and that it pleases them. Often your answer to the gift is giving one in return.
In some countries, names are not allowed for some cultural, religious and historic reasons.
In Germany, the German name Adolf is obviously forbidden. Surnames and objects as first names are also forbidden.
In Malaysia, people cannot name their children after animals, food or vegetables. For example, American names like Bear are not allowed as well as Rose or Violet.
In New Zealand, names which also designate a title are not allowed, for example: Duke, Knight or Prince.
Cultural differences are what make the world such an interesting place. That is why we must keep them from disappearing and ensure we respect them. Think of all these habits as being a treasure and you are one of the guardians that protect it…