18 Very Embarrassing Mistakes People Made In Foreign Countries
Embarrassment knows no border.
1. "I knew *some* Spanish but not its slang/regional uses. 'Cojer' is Spanish for 'to catch,' but in some parts of Mexico it's also slang for 'to fuck.' So I wandered around Tijuana asking people where I could fuck a bus."
2. "We'd rented a car in Oslo, Norway and parked it with its bumper about an inch over one of the rails for their tram system (obviously we didn’t see it or know it was there). We got a nice, big ticket and cussed out in Norwegian for delaying them. Oops!"
3. "I had a sore throat in Spain, so I went to the pharmacy. In my mother tongue of Finnish, the word for 'cucumber' and 'throat' are the same for some reason. So, at the cashier, I forgot which one is which in Spanish and told him I needed some medication because 'tengo dolor en mi pepino' — I have pain in my cucumber (or penis)."
4. "I was visiting Japan with a friend when we kept hearing people around us say 'hi.' I turned toward them and said hello, giving a little wave and smile. It took me much longer than it should have to finally make the connection that they weren’t saying 'hi' to me but the Japanese word for 'yes': 'hai.'"
"I was so embarrassed once I finally figured it out and thought back to ALL the people I had randomly waved at and said hello to."
5. "I was studying abroad in England and joined the football (soccer) team. We were at the pub after a game when I said we should order some Irish Car Bombs. It wasn’t until they asked me to repeat what I said that I realized how horrible it is that we have a drink in America named after an act of terrorism."
6. "I ordered a 'Black and Tan' in Ireland (a stout floated on a pale ale). The bartender looked at me funny and said, 'A half and half, yeah?' Later, I googled it and found out the term 'Black and Tan' refers to the Royal Irish Constabulary, a particularly brutal British paramilitary force during the Irish War of Independence that is still not well thought of on the Emerald Isle."
"Needless to say, I do a little bit more research before departing on international trips."
7. "I was an exchange student in Denmark where I got used to saying 'Sorry, I don't speak Danish' a lot. Well, I went to Italy for vacation when a woman walked up to me and asked something. I panicked and thought, Don't say 'Danish' you're not in Denmark, then told the Italian woman, 'Sorry, I don't speak Spanish.'"
8. "I was studying abroad at a university in Jordan during Ramadan (a holy month of fasting). The study abroad program had briefed us extensively about how to be respectful of our host country, their culture, their faith, etc. But I'm very spacey and one day I completely forgot it was Ramadan and walked across campus eating some delicious watermelon."
"Everyone stared me down, which I thought was kind of odd, but I didn't put two and two together until someone kindly reminded me that LITERALLY EVERYONE AROUND ME WAS STARVING and it's disrespectful to eat/carry food in public. Obviously, I wanted to die."
9. "I lived in Japan for eight years, where restrooms in hotels often have slippers that are meant to be worn only in the restroom. It's common to see rookie foreigners wearing restroom slippers in the hall."
10. "I fell into hippo-infested waters. The hippos all came charging at me and my parents frantically pulled me out of the water just in time."
11. "I didn’t notify my credit cards that I was traveling abroad. I also didn’t answer unknown roaming calls while I was there. So, I found out that my Amex and debit cards were canceled while on the last day of my trip in Bordeaux, France."
12. "I was in Germany for the first time and tried to use the little German I knew to order a pastry. Well, I pointed to the pastry I wanted and when the woman at the counter tried to confirm it with me, I said, 'Si, I mean, oui, I mean...yeah.' I think I may have physically face palmed myself as the woman laughed and said, 'It’s a big world, isn’t it?'”
13. "I went to Italy, where at the end of a meal at a nice restaurant I was given a complimentary glass of limoncello (a drink I'd never had before). It came in what looked like a shot glass, so I did what I usually did in college — slammed it back and smacked the empty glass on the table. The waiter gave me the most disappointed, withering look. Apparently you’re supposed to sip it."
14. "My dad's family were originally from a part of Japan where old traditions and customs are still very much alive. When I was old enough to shop on my own there, I held out a bank note to a shop assistant at the counter. She didn't take the money. She spoke in a dialect I didn't understand. I spoke in a dialect she didn't understand."
"So, for a couple of minutes, we stood there with me holding the bank note out to her and her staring at me. Another customer came up and loudly said, 'Use THAT tray, stupid child!' That was when I learnt we were supposed to put money in a small plastic tray on the counter."
15. "My best friend and I were in France and stopped to get food. When my friend got her order, she looked the cashier dead in the eye and said, 'Gracias!' thinking she was saying 'thank you' in French. I’ll never forget the way her eyes just got all wide and she immediately darted them to the ground while I followed up with a 'merci.'"
16. "When I first got to my host family's home in Japan, I asked where the bathroom was instead of the toilet (they are separate rooms in many Japanese homes). I was then shown to and immediately drawn a bath before I could say anything, despite only being in the home for approximately seven minutes."
"I must have seemed so rude to my host family and it haunts me 12 years later."
17. "I was in the tube station in London and walking up the right-hand side of the stairs during rush hour. I, for the life of me, couldn't figure out what the hell was going on as I was being stampeded by all of these people on the wrong side."
18. "In New York, I always order a medium cappuccino at Tim Hortons. We stopped at a Tim Hortons in Canada, where I ordered the same and it came in a smaller cup than I was used to. I said, 'Excuse me, I ordered a medium,' and the woman politely said, 'That IS a medium.' Like an IDIOT I blurted out, 'Not where I come from' and instantly realized I was the rude jerk who forgot the USA supersizes our drinks."
"I quickly apologized, red faced, and ran back to the car. I'm so sorry, Canada!"
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.