Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
I have encountered many cultural differences worth commenting on. Therefore, the situation that has influenced me the most was when I visited Saudi Arabia with my father. My visit to Saudi Arabia provided me with many cultural differences like male and female interaction, eating manners, and even different ways of greeting people.
One of the main situations that confused me the most was adapting to significant limits of interaction and contact between men and women. Saudi Arabia is known to be the most gender-separated country in the world and public places such as shopping malls and restaurants have entire areas which are female-only. Therefore as I visited public places like shopping malls and restaurants most females were in long, black cloaks known as abayas, usually paired with the hijab(headscarf) or niqab (which leaves a slit for the eyes), or a burqa (which covers the body from head to toe). On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s cultural difference in eating manners has also confused me. This is due to the reason that when my father and I visited his friend’s house I was unaware of the eating manners that were practiced in the country. For example, sitting on the floor using the right hand or flat bread to take food from a roasted lamb. Moreover, I have been also shocked of how Coffee is served because it is customary to drink two or three cups to show your approval of the coffee. Furthermore, coffee Cups are refilled unless you show a gesture like shaking your cup in order to indicate that you’ve had enough. It is also considered good manners for guests to eat heartily, and burp to show appreciation. Another cultural difference that I have encountered is that politeness is valued highly by Arabs and therefore respectful greetings are important. Many variations of greeting exist in Saudi Arabia, so it is often best to follow the lead of Saudi citizens. Greetings are usually involved with a strong handshake, strictly with the right hand, and depending on the level of familiarity an embrace with kisses on both cheeks. moreover, there is little to no physical contact between men and women during public greetings. In conclusion, these different traditions and cultural aspects that I have encountered during my trip to Saudi Arabia have taught me a lot. I have learned to study about cultural differences of the country I am traveling to in order to be polite and respect others according to their way of doing so. In addition, I have also learned to wait for a local to act before acting myself in case I have no knowledge of the countries different culture and traditions.