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Travel is all about getting out there, getting your hands dirty, and immersing yourself in a new culture. It can be a rewarding, enlightening and inspiring experience, but not without its fair share of surprising moments along the way. That’s because everyone in the world is different, and when you visit countries that aren’t familiar to you, you can expect to discover new languages, cultures and maybe even some superstitions along the way.

Why is culture so important? It is essentially the way people live their lives, so before you go to a new country, read up on some of the behaviour that you might see as quirks but is considered perfectly normal for some people. For example, in Brazil rubbing two index fingers together is a signal which represents a close friendship, in China spitting in the street is very common indeed and isn’t seen as rude, and in Nigeria it is perfectly normal for a woman to kneel on the floor as a way of greeting people . Doing your research can take away the surprise elements when you come across customs like these that some might perceive as odd.

Superstitions can seem even more weird than culture at first, with you wondering what the explanation for an action or certain types of behaviour is. For a run-through some of the strangest, check out this guide to 30 superstitions from around the world from Wink Slots . Did you know that in Egypt, to open and close scissors without cutting anything is considered unlucky, or that in Germany you should never say ‘cheers’ with a glass of water?  

Language is part of culture – a representation of a people and their way of communicating. That’s why it is so important to try and memorise a little of the language in each country you visit. This can prove harder in nations where they actually speak good English, as you will feel less pressure to learn a new language in order to make yourself understood in everyday life. Don’t let this dissuade you from learning a few choices phrases such as ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’. Making an effort to speak to people in the native language of the country you are in shows them that you are treating them with respect and making an effort to fit in. Check out Hostelbookers’ list of essential phrases you should aim to nail down before heading away .  

A little preparation looking at the unique features of daily life in the country you plan to visit can go a long way, and with the number of resources on the internet looking at language, culture and superstitions, and shown in this piece, you will have no shortage of information sources. Just remember that a thumbs-up, handshake, and above all else a smile are pretty much universal when it comes to travelling, and armed with these three things you should be able to get by wherever your trip may take you.

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