Do you like to travel and see new places, meet new people, and learn how other people live? Who doesn’t? It’s always very interesting to see and compare things that we may do differently. Sometimes it’s learning the foods of other countries, and also simply to see how people from other cultures live. Before you travel, it’s important to know which common gestures we may use that are better off left at home. Some examples:
This is one of our most commonly used gestures. The thumbs-up sign pretty much means that you have just flipped someone off, mostly in Latin America, Italy, Iran and Africa.
You’d think that this would be one of the universal signs to tell someone that you are OK, right? Think again. This sign can have different meanings in places such as Germany, Brazil and Venezuela, ranging from calling someone a jerk to flipping someone off. In France, this seemingly harmless gesture is actually used to call someone worthless.
We think an open palm is a means of saying hello or a quick thank you, such as when someone lets you cross the street. An open palm actually means disrespect in countries such as Greece. It’s how South Koreans call their dogs. Be mindful of this when you’re merely saying hello to someone or trying to catch a cab.
Horns (Rock on)
In Italy, Greece and Spain, this definitely does not mean to rock on. It’s nowhere near the party-on meaning we have been accustomed to. In these particular countries, the rock-on hand signal means that the other person’s wife, husband or loved one has cheated on them. So the next time you want to “rock on” in a different country, you might just want to “rock out” and forget that gesture.
Since the 1960s, this is one of our favorites gestures to use, but other countries don’t always use it the same way. People in places such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland use this signal to tell people to take a hike, or get lost, which is obviously a terrible way to greet someone. There’s actually a difference between the right and wrong peace sign; if your palm is facing toward you then it’s telling someone to “get lost.” If your palm is facing outward then it’s a bit better but still be careful.
You never know what another country is truly like until you go and see for yourself. It’s always important to research your destination’s culture before you travel. Just a little studying can save yourself a lot of potential awkwardness or embarrassment.