140 Questions to Ask Someone From a Different Country

Meeting someone from a different country is like opening a door to a whole new world—full of unique experiences, stories, and perspectives. It’s an opportunity to broaden your horizons, learn about diverse cultures, and perhaps make a lifelong friend along the way.

But how do you start? What questions can you ask to truly understand their experience and view of the world?

Let’s explore some thoughtful questions that can bridge the gap between curiosity and genuine understanding, making your conversation as enriching as it is engaging.

About Their Cultural Traditions

  1. What are some traditional holidays or festivals celebrated in your country, and how are they observed?
  2. Can you describe any unique customs or rituals related to birth, marriage, or death in your culture?
  3. What traditional foods are significant to your culture, and when are they typically enjoyed?
  4. Are there any traditional clothing or dress codes that are significant in your culture? Can you describe them?
  5. How does your culture express respect towards elders or authority figures?
  6. Can you explain any traditional arts or crafts that are unique to your culture?
  7. What are some traditional games or sports that are played in your country?
  8. Are there any specific gestures, body language, or etiquette that are significant in social interactions in your culture?
  9. How do people in your culture traditionally greet each other? Are there different greetings for different occasions or relationships?
  10. Can you describe any cultural traditions related to education or the passing down of knowledge?
  11. Are there any unique musical or dance traditions in your culture?
  12. What are some traditional beliefs or superstitions in your culture?
  13. How do people in your culture typically celebrate important milestones like graduations, promotions, or retirements?
  14. What role does religion play in the daily lives and traditional practices of your people?
  15. Is there any traditional storytelling or folklore that has been passed down through generations in your culture?
  16. How are family relationships and roles defined in your culture?
  17. Can you describe any traditional ceremonies or practices related to welcoming guests or hospitality in your culture?
  18. What are some significant symbols or icons in your culture, and what do they represent?
  19. How does your culture approach concepts of time, punctuality, and scheduling in daily life?
  20. Have there been any significant changes or shifts in cultural traditions in recent years? How has modernization or globalization influenced traditional practices?

About Their Cuisine and Food Habits

  1. What are some traditional dishes from your country, and what are the main ingredients in them?
  2. Are there any specific cooking techniques or methods that are unique to your country’s cuisine?
  3. What are the common breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods in your culture?
  4. Are there any specific eating customs or etiquette that people observe during meals in your country?
  5. How do the seasons or geography influence the types of food that are commonly eaten in your country?
  6. Can you describe any traditional food-related festivals or celebrations in your culture?
  7. What role do spices and herbs play in your cuisine, and what are some of the most commonly used ones?
  8. Are there any traditional food markets or street foods that are popular in your country?
  9. How do food preferences vary between different regions of your country?
  10. What are the typical beverages that accompany meals in your country, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic?
  11. Are there any traditional or cultural beliefs related to food, such as food symbolism or superstitions?
  12. How do people in your country approach dietary restrictions or preferences such as vegetarianism, veganism, or allergies?
  13. Can you describe any food rituals, such as specific foods for holidays, religious observances, or family gatherings?
  14. What are some popular snacks or comfort foods in your country?
  15. How have international influences shaped your country’s cuisine, and what foreign foods are popular there?
  16. How is food typically served and presented in your country’s traditional dining setting?
  17. What is the role of food in social gatherings, and how are meals typically shared among family and friends?
  18. Are there any food-related customs for special life events, such as weddings, birthdays, or funerals?
  19. What are the attitudes towards cooking at home versus dining out in your country? Is there a preference for one over the other?
  20. How have modern trends, like health consciousness or sustainability, influenced traditional food practices and preferences in your country?

About Their Popular Festivals and Celebrations

  1. What are some of the most celebrated national holidays or festivals in your country?
  2. How do different regions or communities within your country celebrate these festivals uniquely?
  3. Are there any traditional dances, songs, or performances that are part of your country’s festive celebrations?
  4. Can you describe any traditional attire or costumes that are worn during specific festivals?
  5. What kind of traditional foods are prepared and enjoyed during major celebrations?
  6. How do families typically come together to celebrate festivals? What are some common family traditions?
  7. Are there specific rituals or ceremonies performed during certain holidays or festivals?
  8. How do religious beliefs influence the celebrations and festivals in your country?
  9. Can you share any unique traditions or customs associated with a specific festival that may not be well-known outside your country?
  10. How do people in your country decorate their homes, streets, or public spaces during major celebrations?
  11. What is the historical or cultural significance of some of the main festivals celebrated in your country?
  12. Are there any festivals that are particularly significant for children or young people, and how are they celebrated?
  13. How do modern celebrations of traditional festivals differ from how they were celebrated in the past?
  14. Are there any local or regional festivals that are not widely celebrated elsewhere in your country? What makes them unique?
  15. How do different cultural or ethnic groups within your country celebrate their specific festivals?
  16. Are there any collaborative or community-based activities that are part of the festival celebrations in your country?
  17. How have globalization and the influence of other cultures affected the way traditional festivals are celebrated in your country?
  18. What role do festivals play in promoting or preserving the cultural heritage of your country?
  19. Are there any commercial or contemporary festivals, such as film or music festivals, that have become popular in your country?
  20. How do people in your country approach gift-giving, hospitality, or other social aspects during festive occasions?

About Their Sports and Leisure Activities

  1. What are the most popular sports in your country, both professionally and recreationally?
  2. Are there any traditional or indigenous sports that are unique to your country or region?
  3. How are sports integrated into the education system, such as school sports or physical education?
  4. What are some major sporting events or tournaments that are hosted in your country?
  5. Can you tell me about any famous athletes or sports figures from your country and what they are known for?
  6. How does the culture around sports differ between urban and rural areas in your country?
  7. Are there any specific customs or etiquette associated with attending a sporting event in your country?
  8. What role do sports play in fostering community or national identity?
  9. How accessible are sports facilities and recreational areas for the general public in your country?
  10. Are there any popular outdoor leisure activities, such as hiking, fishing, or camping, that people engage in?
  11. What are some favorite indoor leisure activities, like gaming, reading, or arts and crafts, in your country?
  12. How have modern trends or technologies influenced sports and leisure activities in your country?
  13. Can you share any initiatives or programs that promote physical fitness and healthy living through sports in your country?
  14. How do different age groups or demographics engage with sports and leisure activities?
  15. Are there any notable rivalries or competitions between teams or regions within your country?
  16. What are some challenges or issues faced by the sports industry in your country, such as governance, funding, or inclusivity?
  17. How do people in your country engage with sports as spectators, such as watching games on TV or following teams on social media?
  18. How are women’s sports perceived and supported in your country?
  19. Can you describe any leisure activities or hobbies that have a strong cultural or historical significance in your country?
  20. How has the COVID-19 pandemic (or other global events) affected sports and leisure activities in your country, if at all?

About Their Typical Lifestyle and Daily Life

  1. What does a typical day look like for you, from morning to night?
  2. How do work hours and schedules vary in your country? Is there a typical “9 to 5” workday?
  3. What is the most common mode of transportation people use for commuting or daily activities?
  4. How are meals structured throughout the day? Do families often eat together?
  5. Can you describe the balance between work life and personal life in your culture?
  6. How do people in your country typically spend their weekends or days off?
  7. What are the common leisure activities or hobbies that people engage in during their free time?
  8. How do different age groups, such as children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly, differ in their daily routines?
  9. How significant is the role of technology, like smartphones or computers, in your daily life?
  10. What are the popular places or spots where people gather for social interactions?
  11. How do seasons or weather patterns influence daily activities and lifestyles in your country?
  12. Are there any daily or weekly rituals or practices that are commonly observed, such as religious ceremonies or community gatherings?
  13. How do households typically manage chores and responsibilities? Is there a division of labor?
  14. What’s the general approach towards fitness and health in your country? Are regular exercises or gym visits common?
  15. How do urban lifestyles differ from rural lifestyles in your country?
  16. What are the typical shopping habits? Do people frequent large supermarkets, local markets, or online platforms?
  17. How do people in your country typically manage their finances, savings, and investments?
  18. What role do entertainment mediums, such as television, cinema, or music, play in daily life?
  19. How do people in your country stay updated with news or current events?
  20. Can you describe any lifestyle changes or shifts that have occurred in recent years, possibly due to globalization, technology, or other factors?

About Their Social Norms and Etiquette

  1. How do people typically greet each other in your country, and does it vary between friends, family, and strangers?
  2. What is considered polite manners at the dining table, and are there any specific rules or customs related to eating?
  3. How is personal space regarded in your country, and what’s considered a respectful distance during conversations?
  4. What are the common norms for giving gifts or expressing gratitude in your culture?
  5. Are there specific social expectations related to dress code or appearance in various settings like workplaces, religious places, or social gatherings?
  6. How do people in your country address others in a formal setting? Are titles or honorifics commonly used?
  7. What is considered a polite way to decline an invitation or offer in your culture?
  8. How do social norms vary between urban and rural areas or among different regions within your country?
  9. What are the typical customs or behaviors regarding interactions between men and women in public spaces?
  10. Are there any particular norms or etiquette related to using technology, such as mobile phones, in social situations?
  11. How are children taught social manners or etiquette in your country? Are there common practices in schools or at home?
  12. How is punctuality perceived in your culture? Is being late considered rude or more casually accepted?
  13. What are the social norms related to tipping in restaurants or other service industries?
  14. How do people in your country approach topics that might be considered sensitive or taboo in conversation?
  15. What’s the usual etiquette when visiting someone’s home? Are there any specific gestures or offerings that are expected?
  16. How are social norms around environmental consciousness, such as recycling or conservation, manifested in daily life?
  17. What are the expectations related to showing respect to elders or authority figures in your culture?
  18. Are there any particular norms or unspoken rules regarding public transportation or public behavior?
  19. How do social etiquette and norms reflect or accommodate the diverse ethnic, religious, or cultural groups within your country?
  20. Have you observed any significant changes in social norms or etiquette in recent years, possibly due to generational shifts, technological advancements, or other influences?

About Their Historical Events and Landmarks

  1. What are the key historical events that have shaped your country’s identity and why?
  2. Are there specific landmarks or monuments that commemorate important figures or moments in your country’s history?
  3. How is history taught in schools, and are there particular events that are emphasized more than others?
  4. What are the oldest known landmarks or archaeological sites in your country, and what do they signify?
  5. How have historical events influenced modern-day relations with neighboring countries?
  6. Are there any controversial or debated periods in your country’s history, and how are they approached in public discourse?
  7. What role do museums and cultural institutions play in preserving and presenting your country’s history?
  8. Can you mention a historical figure from your country who has had a significant impact, both nationally and internationally?
  9. How are important national anniversaries or historical events commemorated and celebrated?
  10. Which historical books or authors would you recommend to someone wanting to understand your country’s past?
  11. Are there any World Heritage Sites in your country, and if so, what makes them special?
  12. How has colonization or foreign occupation influenced your country’s historical landmarks and narratives?
  13. Can you name a landmark or site that is considered a pilgrimage or a must-visit for your country’s citizens?
  14. How do historical events play a role in your country’s festivals or public holidays?
  15. What are some local legends or folklore connected to historical landmarks or events?
  16. How have recent developments or urbanization affected historical sites and landmarks in your country?
  17. Are there any restoration or conservation efforts ongoing to preserve historical landmarks?
  18. What’s a lesser-known historical event or fact about your country that you think more people should be aware of?
  19. How have historical events influenced arts, literature, or cinema in your country?
  20. How do younger generations in your country view historical events and landmarks? Are there efforts to keep them engaged with the past?

Frequently Asked Questions

What if there is a language barrier?

• Use simple language and speak clearly to minimize misunderstandings.
• Be patient and show understanding if they search for words or make mistakes—it’s a sign of courage to speak in another language.
• Consider non-verbal cues and gestures (when appropriate) to aid in communication, but be mindful of cultural differences in body language.

How do I handle a situation where my question unintentionally offends them?

• Quickly acknowledge the mistake by apologizing sincerely. You can say something like, “I’m sorry. That was not my intention to offend. I appreciate you letting me know.
• Take it as a learning opportunity. Ask if they’re comfortable sharing why that question is sensitive, thus turning the situation into a meaningful exchange.
• Respect their feelings and boundaries; if they prefer not to elaborate, move the conversation forward respectfully.

Final Thoughts

Engaging with someone from another country through meaningful questions is much more than a simple exchange of words; it’s an adventure into the heart of what makes their world unique.

As we wrap up our exploration of the kinds of questions that can enrich these interactions, remember that the best questions come from a place of genuine interest and empathy. These conversations are a two-way street where both of you can share, learn, and grow. 

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Bea is an editor and writer with a passion for literature and self-improvement. Her ability to combine these two interests enables her to write informative and thought-provoking articles that positively impact society. She enjoys reading stories and listening to music in her spare time.