By BENNY LEWIS
I have lived in 23 countries; that’s lived as in, spent at least a month (usually three, and over a year in some) in the country where I invested serious time into speaking its language (or already spoke its language on arrival) and tried to investigate its culture and made local friends.
This list is; Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Belgium, Colombia, the US, Canada, Ireland, UK, Spain,France, the Netherlands, Egypt, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, India, the Philippines, Thailand, China, Taiwan. (I’ve also visited Poland, Uruguay, Singapore, Austria, Slovakia, Norway, and Mexico for a few days or weeks, but definitely wouldn’t consider myself to have lived in any of these and was more of a tourist, and I’ve had a flight transfer through a bunch other countries for a few hours, which I wouldn’t count at all).
I can point you to travellers who have been to many more countries than I have (most of whom have been travelling way less than I have, so it really shows the different speeds we travel at), but my style of travel and theirs is very different and I feel like I have gotten to know the modern cultures of each of these countries much more than the majority of passers-through ever do.
The thing about living in a country and truly attempting to understand its culture and language, is that you have to pick up a lot of their customs to stand out less and make them feel more comfortable. Some of these I have done only in passing and stopped almost immediately after leaving the country, but quite a few (as you’ll see here) have stuck with me for life.
In today’s post, I want to share a few of the strangest habits that I have picked up!
1. Ask people if they want to have a shower way too often
This strange custom is one that I picked up from spending an entire year in Brazil.
I travelled a lot in the country, and had my own home some of the time, but the rest of the time would stay with friends. It struck me as incredibly odd, but the first question Brazilians would ask me whenever I arrived at their home was always if I wanted to have a shower!
This wasn’t saying anything about my B.O., but something that is customary to offer any guest who is visiting you in Brazil, including if they are not staying over. Brazil can be a hot country depending on the city and time of year, and Brazilians are among the most hygienic people I’ve ever come across, generally taking at least two and sometimes three showers a day, especially if they are physically active (gyms, sports etc.)
Because of this, Brazilians generally want to have a shower as soon as they arrive at someone’s house, to freshen up. The problem is that I’m so used to asking this that any time I have a Couchsurfer over at my place, or if it’s a somewhat hot day anywhere in the world and someone pops by my house, I just automatically ask the question of if they want to hop in the shower as soon as they enter.
You can imagine the looks I’ve gotten from asking this when people think I’m somehow implying they are smelly, or a girl who may be just a friend or a very different age to me thinking I have an ulterior motive! I’m just trying to be nice, as any Brazilian would, I swear!