17 Culturally Inappropriate Things in Some Parts of the World

By Daniella Djiogan

1.) Eye-to-Eye Contact

In some parts of Africa, it is seriously disrespectful to look into an older person’s eyes.  In the U.S, the same act is associated with “shyness”. It also means you aren’t confident enough or you aren’t sincere.

You can just begin to imagine how I felt when I first arrived in the U.S and my teachers always thought I was shy because I couldn’t look into their eyes…


2.) Sitting with your Legs Crossed

Crossing your legs in-front of an older person is one of the most disrespectful thing that would probably get you a good beating back in my birth country. It is almost a forbidden act. If you are seated with someone who was even a year older, you can’t cross your legs because it will entail you are pompous and arrogant.


3.) Talking Back at an Elder…Your Opinions Can Wait

I can bet most people who come from a developing country can attest to this. Talking back would get you killed for sure (haha…just kidding, but it would get you a good beating). You never talk back at your parents…NEVER. All you have to do is keep your mouth shut and listen to whatever they have to say even if you are right and they are wrong.

There is this thing called ‘pride’ that most parents have, especially African fathers. They don’t only have pride, but they can have a superiority complex…that’s true. You don’t dare talk back at them.


4.) They Drink First

 I have seen this in some cultures where you can’t pour a drink for yourself because you have to pour for the elder first. This can be considered a culture but it can also be seen as a common etiquette…good behavior. If you are a kpop/kdrama fan, you probably have notice this a lot.


5.)  Gay Rights

Gay rights aren’t acceptable in many African countries…almost all. It’s sad but true. If you are LGBT in these parts of the world, you probably wouldn’t survive. You might be taken to prison by authorities or if you’re unlucky enough, you might be killed. Many run for their lives and try to hide in countries likes South Africa, where regulations aren’t as strict. In the U.S, the supreme court put a stamp of approval on gay marriages. You will agree with me when I say not everyone out there is as lucky right?


6.) Honorifics

You can’t call someone that’s older by their first name. You have to show respect by using a honorific or by calling their last name. Your friend or a person of the same age can call you by your first name and you can call anyone younger by their first name as well. However, other-than that, one should always show respect.


7.) Bowing Down

In certain cultures, you have to bow down to an elder when greeting them. Why, you ask? because it is respectful. It shows you acknowledge and respect the person standing in-front of you. It shows humility. This particular gesture might have some sort of clash with religion, as one isn’t suppose to bow to anyone expect God. However, one should be able to distinguish an act of respect from one of worship.


8.) Eating in a Group Rather Than by Yourself In-front Of The TV.


9.) Birthday Cake Smash

This isn’t a tradition in any country…as far as I know. However, it’s something I see happening quite a lot at birthday parties/gatherings. People take a piece of the cake or perhaps the whole cake, and they literally cover the birthday girl or boy’s face with it. It certainly elevates the mood of the party. Though this is becoming more and more a party-MUST, in other parts of the world it might be considered disrespectful to waste food.


10.) Hugs and Kisses

In most European countries, kissing someone on both side of the cheek is actually considered a warm welcome. However in some places, the whole touching culture shouldn’t happen.


11.) Firm Hand Shake

A firm hand shake is required for a business deal, a professional first impression, etc. In other parts of the world, women aren’t actually allowed to shake hands…especially a man’s hands.


12.) Wearing Short Shorts and Exposing Clothing

This is a no no in many non-western cultures. If you are seen walking on the streets with your tush and/or belly exposed, rest assure you might be called a “prostitute” by someone…just saying. If you are planning to travel in other places around the world, make sure you know what’s culturally acceptable.


13.) Men Shouldn’t Cook

 This is more of a conception that only women should be allowed in the kitchen. Believe it or not but in other societies, men aren’t allowed to cook.


14.) Talking About Dating with Parents

Another No No. You never get to talk about boys with your parents…NEVER! That topic of discussion shouldn’t come close to your mouth till you are about 21 years old. Clearly, you don’t get any talk. If you ever wondered why a girl would be single for that long…well here’s your answer…Culture.


15.) Going Clubbing…Prohibited

The same thing applies to clubbing. How can you go clubbing when your curfew is 8pm? the clubs aren’t even open at that time. It’s too early. Plus, you can’t go somewhere without parents’ permission.


16.) Moving out Before Marriage

 It frequently happens in the U.S at the age of 18 when a child gains independence; becomes an “adult” in society. In other parts of the world, you ain’t moving out till you are married into your husband’s house. If you never get married, rest assured you will be in there for a long long time.


17.) It’s My Way Or The Highway VS. It’s My Way, That’s It

 In American societies, the saying goes “it’s my way or the highway”. This basically means that if you’re staying under my roof, you have to observe my rules. In other societies the saying goes “it’s my way or nothing”; which means if you are my child, you have to observe my rule. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you will always be my child and so you will live under my rule for the rest of my life. Clearly, you have no choice or option.


4 thoughts on “17 Culturally Inappropriate Things in Some Parts of the World

  1. It has always fascinated me to see and interact with different cultures. In Africa, do the people there recognize and accept that foreigners are not accustomed to many of your taboos or ways? —- Do you tend to just shrug them off, are angered or find it amusing?


  2. Eheheheh nice post and all that is says is completely true. I’m African as well so I completely understand some rule such as not talking bad to an elder or even the one that says no moving out before getting married. However now that I’m in Europe I’m starting to adapt to a whole new different and more free environment especially in terms of gender being more equally treated

    Please if you could stop by my blog debyoncelife.wordpress.com


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