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Jul 16, 2018

Have you ever walked into someone’s house in Japan with your shoes on and had a room full of people laugh at you? (Katy has.) Have you ever traipsed into a room in an Italian home that has been freshly mopped and been given the evil eye by the lady of the house? (Tiffany has.)

Part of living in a foreign culture is learning (often the hard way) that some things that are totally acceptable back home are, at best, a faux pas in your adopted country, and, at worst, a humiliating gaff. Picking up on the social rules of your new country is part of adjusting to life abroad. To a certain extent, all expats go through it.

But what makes things rude in one culture and acceptable in another? What does it say about the people of those countries, and what they value? Why is it ok to litter on the street in Italy, but not ok to wash your hands in the kitchen sink? Why is it fine, in Italy, to wave to get your waiter’s attention, but unspeakably rude to leave a shop without saying “grazie, arrivederci”—the exact opposite of which is true in the US?

And what happens when you pick up habits that are perfectly acceptable in your new country, and take them back home with you, where they are seen as downright rude? (Case in point: after a one-year stint in Rome, polite, mild-mannered Katy has taken to cutting lines, a heinous crime in America and merely an eye-rolling annoyance in Italy.) 

We discuss these social conundrums and etiquette paradoxes and try to make sense of it all on this week’s new episode, {RUDE}.


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