Can You Answer All of These Questions About Foreign Etiquette?


By: Elizabeth Lavis

6 Min Quiz

Image: Image Source / Photodisc / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The world is a large and complicated place, and what makes total sense socially in one culture may be completely unacceptable or misunderstood in another. It's important to observe the rules of etiquette as we navigate our way around this big and beautiful planet, which is why this quiz will stretch to all four corners of the globe and test your skills on what is acceptable and what is not.

Do you know what is critically important to do before entering a home in Japan? Or what common sign is seen as vulgar and rude in many countries in South America? Tipping might be considered acceptable (and expected) in the United States, but is the same true in other countries and in all situations involving service? There's an emotion that you should never express publically in Thailand, but do you know what it is? Answer these questions and more to prove that you are a true citizen of the world. 

These 35 questions will test your foreign etiquette savvy and your interpersonal skills across the continents. It's time to pack your bags and go globetrotting to see who has James Bond level diplomatic skills and who would look like a heel overseas.

What should you never do with chopsticks in much of Asia, due to rituals involving the dead?

Never stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice while dining in much of Asia. This is how bowls of rice are offered to the dead, and it is considered a big social faux pas to do it while eating.


If you’re eating pizza with a Dutch person, what’s the polite way to do it?

In the Netherlands and much of Europe, it is appropriate to eat pizza with a fork and knife. Picking it up with your hands is considered to be very poor etiquette, no matter how commonplace it might be in other parts of the world.


Which body part is considered sacred in Thailand?

For many Thai people, the head is considered to be sacred, and you should avoid touching that part of a Thai person's body, even if they are a small child. Touching the head — or hair — could be perceived as offensive.


What is the appropriate time to bring up business while dining in Taiwan?

Business dinners in Taiwan are very structured, and business is not discussed until the host brings it up. This might be unusual for some Western people, but it's the polite way to do things.


During dinner in Portugal, what should you avoid doing if you don't want to insult your host?

Asking for condiments — even salt and pepper — is considered to be very rude in Portugal. If a condiment is not on the table, you should assume that the dish is meant to be served without it.


What should you never show to someone in Greece?

Showing your open palm to a Greek person is considered to be very impolite. It's essentially a way to tell someone that you reject them. Even waving to someone with an open palm is a big no-no.


How do you get a waiter's attention in the United Kingdom?

Once you've finished your meal in the United Kingdom, you should raise your hand to get the attention of the waiter. Shouting at them or beckoning them with a finger is considered very rude.


What greeting gesture is very common in France and French-speaking countries?

Kissing on both cheeks — faire la bise — is a very common greeting in France and French-speaking countries. Really these are air kisses, with cheeks touching. Both men and women greet each other this way, so if you're traveling to France, expect to be smooched.


In Argentina, what common response is considered rude?

Argentinians are notorious for being close talkers, and those who are used to a little bit more personal space might want to take a step back. Resist the urge. It is considered rude in Argentina.


What body part should you never point at anyone in Asia?

You should never point your feet at anyone while in Asia. Feet are the lowest point of the body and are considered to be dirty. Pointing your feet at someone is very disrespectful.


Are titles taken seriously in China?

Titles are taken very seriously in China, and it's considered highly rude not to use or acknowledge someone's formal title when addressing them. A certain level of formality is expected in conversation.


What is famously taken very seriously in Germany?

German people are sticklers for punctuality. It is considered to be extremely rude to be late. It's better to be on the safe side and plan to arrive ten minutes early for appointments in Germany.


What type of talk do conversations in Kenya usually start with?

Kenyans generally engage in small talk before jumping into tough or deep conversations. It is considered rude not to observe this nicety, so always add in a buffer for some small talk.


What unlikely place will Finnish people sometime conduct business in?

For Finnish folks, saunas are a big part life. They are also sometimes considered to be the perfect place for conducting business. Many Finns will cement contracts while in the sauna.


What is proper to do when visiting churches in Italy?

Italian cathedrals, churches and other houses of worship are places where the appropriate dress is not only encouraged, it's mandated. No shorts are allowed. Shoulders must be covered and skirts must be knee-length or longer.


Which common gesture for sleepiness is considered rude in Ecuador?

Yawning is considered rude in Ecuador, so if you feel a yawn coming on, it is best to excuse yourself and do it in private. Many Ecuadorians see yawning as a sign that you're not interested in conversing with them.


What institution is highly prized in Egypt?

Egyptians prize family above almost everything else in the world. If you are invited to an Egyptian get-together, that's an honor. Expect multiple family members to attend, including children.


In what country is “yes” indicated by tilting the head to one side?

It is considered confusing or rude to nod "yes" when you are in Greece. Instead of nodding, simply say "yes" to the other person. Greeks understand that nodding is customary in the rest of the world and won't hold it against you if you slip up.


What common sign is considered inappropriate in Argentina?

The "OK" sign is considered very vulgar in Argentina, so if you are traveling or staying in that part of the world it is better to simply say "OK" rather than to use the hand gesture. Don't give a thumbs-up, either.


If you are in a country where Ramadan is practiced, what should you avoid doing?

Even non-Muslims should avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public during fasting hours, but you can do these things in private. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during the 30 days of Ramadan.


In Hong Kong, should an older person be introduced before a younger person?

In Hong Kong, as in much of Asia, age is prized. When two people are being introduced, the older one should always be introduced first. This is a sign of respect that is taken seriously in Hong Kong.


What should you always do before entering a house in Japan?

Japanese people never wear shoes inside their houses, and you should always take yours off before entering a home in Japan. It is considered exceptionally rude and unsanitary not to do so.


This is considered a big no-no in India. What is it?

If you visit India with your significant other, remember to keep the public displays of affection to a minimum. It's best not to engage at all, as it's considered uncouth and rude to be all over your S.O. in public.


What should you never ask for, when dining in France?

You should never ask for a doggie bag after a meal out in France. If you can't finish your meal, just consider it a loss and move on. To request a doggie bag is seen as greedy and inappropriate.


Which emotion should you avoid showing in Thailand?

It is ill-advised to show anger in Thailand. If you erupt in anger in the Land of Smiles, Thai people will see you as "losing face" and look down on you. It's best to hold it in until you're in private.


Which simple gesture might signify arrogance in South Korea?

Putting your hands in your pockets might be innocuous in most of the world, but you could be sending out an unwanted signal if you are in South Korea. Many South Koreans see hands in the pockets as a sign of arrogance.


What is a common thing to do at dinner parties in Russia?

Toasts are very common in Russia, and you should always let your host lead you in one. You might even be asked to make a toast, so be prepared to say something if called upon. Na zdorovie!


You're invited to a Norwegian person's house. What should you bring?

If you are invited to a Norwegian person's house, you should always bring a gift. It does not have to be extravagant, but you should have something to present your host with. If you opt for flowers, bring an odd number to avoid being disrespectful. To come empty-handed is rude.


Should you tip in South Korea?

It is not standard to tip in South Korea, and it can also be considered downright rude. If you are visiting a very touristy place you should be OK leaving a tip, but you certainly don't have to.


Is it customary to show up on time in Israel?

In Israel, punctuality is not expected. It is common to show up between fifteen to twenty minutes late to just about everything. If you're a stickler for being on time, you'll have to adjust your expectations.


What should you never do to a Portuguese person?

You should never point at a Portuguese person unless you want to be seen as totally uncouth. To be on the safe side, you should try to avoid pointing at anything, including objects.


Is haggling acceptable in Nigeria?

Haggling is very common in Nigeria, and you are expected to engage in it. It's not exactly considered rude not to haggle, but you're better off making some lower offers on items to avoid getting ripped off.


Which common politeness is actually considered impolite in Mexico?

Showing up on time, which is considered polite and appropriate in certain countries, is actually thought of as rude in Mexico — for Mexicans. As a foreigner, you're probably better off showing up on time, but don't be surprised or offended if other people are late.


What is very important to do while shaking hands in Colombia?

If you are shaking hands with someone in Colombia, you should make and maintain eye contact. Breaking eye contact is considered rude and could be seen as a sign that you are untrustworthy.


You are out for dinner with your Singaporean host. What should you let them do?

In Singapore, it is common for the host to order dishes for everyone at the table. You should expect to be treated to multiple dishes that will likely be shared family-style among the guests.


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