When in Rome, Do As the Romans Do

One of the neatest experiences in life is visiting a foreign country and immersing yourself in the culture. One of the worst experiences in life is making an unforgivable faux pas in said country. AWKS! This page is our gift to our fellow travelers. The do’s and don’t do’s of various cultures as well as a few random anecdotes ;). We don’t pretend to be experts; the tips on this page – posted sporadically… sorry, no set dates!- are based on our own personal experiences and the personal experiences of those we know. We have some trusted sources… a friend with dual citizenship, an expat, an ex-expat, exchange students… 😉

Here’s your first one, lovelies!

8/3/13- Always wear shoes or socks inside homes in Spain! It’s considered rude if you go without footwear.

8/6/13- Always keep your hands above the table when you’re eating in Spain.

8/25/13- In Turkey pinching the fingers on your hand together with the tips facing upwards (kind of like the right-side-up motion you use to pull a tissue from a tissue box) and opening and closing them three times is the same as saying, “This is delicious!” about food. In Italy, it is basically the same as flipping someone off. Good to know!

9/1/13- In Spain, they serve gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, in shot glasses or “chupitos.”

11/20/13- In European countries, where they use military time, 19:19 is their 11:11 phenomenon.  If you transfer that to a 12-hour clock, that’s 7:19, while 11:11 is 23:11 in military time.

6/28/14- In Mexico, their stop signs look just like ours, but instead of “STOP,” they say “ALTO!”

7/20/14- The Festa Italiana Mass in Milwaukee today honored St. Ambrose of Milano who is credited with first saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” as a response to a question about the various liturgical practices in different regions of Italy.  Who knew?

11/5/14 – In Japan, hugging is reserved for romantic pairs. Girls don’t hug their friends, children don’t hug their parents, and boys certainly don’t hug their bros! Instead, girls wave their hands frantically (think jazz hands) to show their excitement upon seeing their friends.

11/5/14 – In Turkey, it is considered rude and primitive to refer to one’s spouse as “my wife” or “my husband.” The polite way to refer to one’s spouse is simply as that… “my spouse.”

11/5/14 – Also in Turkey, the way to say you are bored is “canım sikkin” which literally translates to “My soul is bored.” You’re not just bored, like, “Meh, I’m kinda bored,” NO! Your very SOUL is bored. How cool is that?

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