Catch this!

Posted by Guido van Es on October 05, 2008

Sometimes it's surprising how fast you can adapt to another culture, and feel distantiated from your own.
I have lived for four years in Peru. First adaptations you make, like the language or ways of greeting persons are easily changed back and forth. But as you stay longer, it becomes interesting. An example. In Peru (and I know in other cultures too), it is offensive to throw coins, pens, or lighters to people. Also presents or candy, for example. Whereas in Holland you can sit on a table with friends and people throw money to each other to pay the bill, or lighters or pens that are being thrown all over the place; that is extremely rude in Peru. When you give something to somebody, you ought to do that with respect. So back in Holland, I am still shocked by this behaviour, even though I know I am born and grown here…
The same goes for shaking hands with women… Very weird… 😉 In Southern Europe and South America you kiss women that are being presented to you for the first time… Shaking hands is for guys!
Sometimes it feels harder to re-adapt to your own culture then to a new one… Do you have the same experience?


No Comments to Catch this!

  • About the throwing: it's the same in Thailand. You never throw something at someone. Especially in highschool, this was a bit funny for me, because Dutch highschool students tend to throw everything around. Thai students are much more well-behaved anyways, but that is a different story…

    About shaking hands: I noticed that, in business situations, men sometimes are a bit confused when we have a meeting. Shaking hands, even in the Netherlands, is more of a guy thing. But in business situations, you don't kiss… at least not here.

    About adapting back to your own culture: Yes, it took a while. And I must say that, whenever I make a Thai or Chinese dinner for my friends, I'm back in the mode of Thai or Chinese table manners. Yes, the Chinese have table manners :).

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