Every country is unique. While we may share certain cultural traits, etiquettes and traditions really tend to differ between countries. Planning on visiting or moving to Europe? Keep these etiquettes in mind before you go!
1. Don’t Ask for Condiments with Your Meals in Europe
It is normal in North America to have salt and pepper on every table and to ask for certain condiments such as chili oil or Parmesan cheese in an Italian restaurant, however, it is considered rude in some countries to ask for any seasonings with your food.
For example, don’t ask for any Parmesan in Italy, or salt and pepper in Portugal along with your food. It is frowned upon by the chef and the restaurant to ask for any substitutions in your dish when you dine in Paris.
Make sure that you translate the menu well, and order something that you can and want to eat!
2. Use Your Library Voice
While it’s normal in North America to hear loud chatters booming in museums, it’s not so much in Europe. When you go to cathedrals, museums, or even to a restaurant, make sure to keep your volume low if you don’t want to have locals frowning at you!
3. At a Grocery Store? Keep This in Mind!
Make sure to greet the shopkeeper as you come in and say goodbye before you leave, or it would be considered rude. While shopping for produce, it is a strict no-no to touch it with your bare hands. If you really need to touch and feel what you’re buying, carry plastic gloves with you.
Also, make sure that you’re carrying change for your small purchases, for example, water bottles, it is not nice to have the shopkeeper break a bill of fifty for you!
4. Dining in Europe
Dining is considered a relaxing and social occasion in European countries, it’s not as fast-paced as North America. It’s stress-free, and isn’t time-bound! Don’t expect your servers to come and ask you for the check as soon as you’re done with your food as they really don’t want to bother you. If you do want to rush out, go to the front desk and pay for it. When you do ask your check, don’t hope to get it split by the number of people at the table, as it’s normal for friends to take turns treating!
5. Don’t Assume Everyone Speaks English!
The last and maybe most important etiquette any tourist should be mindful of is to not try and speak with the locals in English assuming that they understand it. Europe is a diverse continent, and each country has its own language. Yes, there might be a few countries where English is widely spoken but it would be considered disrespectful to the locals if you just assume they know English. Before you travel, make sure to learn a few common phrases, for example, directions to the nearest train station, nearest toilets, etc.
If you are lucky enough to befriend a local or two during your stay, they’ll be more than happy to show you around and teach you some of their etiquettes. It is also a great way to really learn about the culture and country!
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