Traveling to different countries and exploring a world entirely different from your own is a pretty awesome experience. And if you’ve been lucky enough to have this experience, you’re probably familiar with one not-so-awesome aspect of traveling abroad: using your cell phone.
Sure, when you’re traveling and exploring a new country, using your cell phone and staying in touch with your social media should probably be the last thing on your mind. But we all feel the need to stay in the loop and plugged-in while traveling, and that’s perfectly normal! (How else are you going to share all of your amazing adventures with your social media followers?) Although the struggle of asking for the WiFi password wherever you go is pretty much a universal thing for people who travel abroad, there are some surprising differences in how cell phone practices/uses differ in various countries. Check them out below:
1. We don’t all refer to smartphones with the same lingo, and there are some pretty interesting differences in the language we choose to refer to the trusty sidekick that sits in our pockets. A study by CNN on cell phone usage reveals how different countries refer to their phones: In the US, it’s a cell phone, while Britishers prefer to call it a “mobile.” Other interesting phrases include:
• Keitai: literally means “portable”, Japan
• Shou-ji: “hand machine”, China
• Muthophone: “phone in the palm of your hand”, Bangladesh
• Nalle: “teddy bear”, Sweden
(We’re totally down for referring to our iPhones as teddy bears from now on.)
2. There are some vast differences in what’s considered the proper cell phone etiquette around the world:
• USA: There’s an unwritten rule of speaking quietly on your cell phone while in public so as not to disturb people around you. And if you’re somewhere like a movie theatre, restaurant, or church, your phone should probably be put on silence or vibrate! Also, no phones calls 9:30 PM unless it’s an emergency.
• Egypt: It’s customary to exchange pleasantries/engage in small talk for 5 minutes before actually starting a conversation! It’s also common to exchange phone numbers with strangers you meet on the street or a train. (Major props, because this sounds so tiring.)
• Russia: There are no 5 minute small talk sessions for Russians. Because the phone lines in Russia are not very reliable, they get to the point quickly while talking on the phone! It’s also common in Russia to not say anything when you first answer the phone and to wait for the person who called to begin talking.
• India: If someone is calling you after 10PM, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an emergency! This is perfectly normal in India, as is speaking on your cell phone in a library or keeping your ringer on loud while in public.
• Check out this awesome infographic from Gizmodo to read more about cell phone etiquette in other countries!
3. Turns out, no matter what the different etiquette might be, we all love our smartphones. The top 10 countries* according to cell phone usage worldwide are:
• 1. China: 1,100,000,000 cell phones
• 2. India: 893,862,000 cell phones
• 3. United States: 310,000,000 cell phones
• 4. Indonesia: 281,960,000 cell phones
• 5. Russia: 261,900,000 cell phones
• 6. Brazil: 248,324,000 cell phones
• 7. Japan: 138,363,000 cell phones
• 8. Vietnam: 134,066,000 cell phones
• 9. Pakistan: 125,000,000 cell phones
• 10. Nigeria: 112,780,000 cell phones
*This data is from a 2012/2013 study.
So whether it’s the lingo we use when referring to our cell phones or the unspoken “rules” about the right and wrong ways to use it, there are some pretty major differences with how cell phones are used around the globe. Some things are pretty universal, though: we all love using our phones, and we all struggle with a draining phone battery throughout the day. We’ve got you covered on that last thing, though.