Something a bit lighter than usual:

Now that being international is sexy again, here is a simple tip for first time travelers visiting a new country – know your social etiquette! Knowing the proper manners and customs can be the difference between being considered an “international visitor” or a “foreigner.” We are so used to our own social rituals that it is easy to forget styles of greeting, meeting, and eating vary drastically from place to place. For the same reason, we are prone to subconsciously judging others who are unfamiliar with the mannerisms, speech patterns, and social rituals we consider normal.

The same applies domestically. It seems that what is sometimes mistaken for an ethnic, racial, educational, income or some other divide is in fact cultural. Social interactions have a very different pace in urban areas compared to rural areas and ideas of hospitality vary North to South and East to West in the US as well as around the globe. So whether you are traveling the country or traveling the world, pay close attention to local etiquette and do your research with handy guides like Behave Yourself!: The Essential Guide to International Etiquette (Michael Powell). Not only does it prevent you from offending others by incorrectly displaying your feet or shaking with the wrong hand (the left is for wiping …), you’ll be able to interpret local gestures and cues better (friendly ones and not so friendly ones…). And even if you’re not traveling anytime soon, it makes for some pretty entertaining reading.

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