When traveling to different cultures, 'how' the chicken crossed the road seems to be more relevant than 'why'. When I was in Italy, it took me six days to figure out how to cross the street. There were scooters and cars swerving everywhere and honking. Every time I tried to cross the street, cars would screech to a stop and swear at me in Italian. Then I figured out how to do it. Just walk a steady pace across the street and let them avoid you - and it worked! This knowledge of how to cross the street is an important norm, what sociologists call a more. Mores are important to the order of a society. If you violate them, it will cause a disruption in the social setting. Other norms that are less important are called folkways. Folkways are not crucial to the order of society and if you were to violate a folkway people would not necessarily judge you. The more of how to cross a street can be found in lots of videos on youtube. Watch this video from India. Note how the person crossing the street is aware of the norms of traffic and so the pedestrian successfully crosses without getting hit. It is worth noting that these mores, although very important to the society, are not necessarily laws. Similar to the ideas of time being a social construct, they are just the way that people operate and even though they are not written into laws, they are important to the function of society. Watch this video of an intersection in India and think about who has the right of way? There may not be a law about it, but those drivers know what they are doing, but would an American?
Have you experienced a different set of norms from another culture either by traveling somewhere or by meeting a foreigner here in America? What was it like? Were there misunderstandings?
Something else that you might want to blog about is google another culture where you would like to travel. Findout what unique norms exist in their culture. Here is a link to cultural etiquette around the world.