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  1. #1
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Default Culture shock experiences

    I'd be interested in hearing about cultural shock experiences:

    a) that you've experienced first-hand;

    b) that you've seen (or read about) someone experiencing in your country/state (mention his/her origin for comparative purposes);

    c) that people from your country or state routinely experience pretty much anywhere they travel to.

  2. #2
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    *cricket sound*

    Ok, I'll try to save the thread posting some Brazilian peculiarities that catch foreign people by surprise.

    1- The greeting part can be tricky. In informal settings, man&woman and woman&woman that know each other tend to greet each other kissing on the cheek. Simple, right? No, because the number of kisses, ranging from 1 to 3, vary according to where you are. In Rio, the norm is 2, in São Paulo, the norm is 1, etc. Someone made a map based on it:


    2- If you get invited to a party, you should show up about one hour after the scheduled time. Be punctual, and there's a decent chance that you'll have to wait for the party thrower to arrive. On the bright side, there's no time no finish, and people often party until the sun shines.

  3. #3
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    An Argentinian guy kissed me in college when I said "hi" after walking into a staff meeting. I was like but apparently that's a normal greeting there. Someone chimed in right away to explain that to me and they told him not to do that in the US. Haha.
    RobertCalifornia: TL thinks im black
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    Hive: arent you
    SpankyMcfly: wait... you arent?

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  4. #4
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honor View Post
    An Argentinian guy kissed me in college when I said "hi" after walking into a staff meeting. I was like but apparently that's a normal greeting there. Someone chimed in right away to explain that to me and they told him not to do that in the US. Haha.
    Lol, at least someone made the situation less awkward.

  5. #5
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post
    Lol, at least someone made the situation less awkward.
    Seriously.
    RobertCalifornia: TL thinks im black
    RobertCalifornia: shes my homegurl
    Hive: arent you
    SpankyMcfly: wait... you arent?

    thoughtlost: I am not really religious. I just like getting free stuff from churches.

  6. #6
    Vulnerability Eilonwy's Avatar
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    In Belgium, my relatives do the "air kiss" on the cheek (lips do not actually touch skin). I kept forgetting which side to start on and there were some awkward, dodge-back-and-forth moments because of that. Plus, I think it's two on each side, or maybe three, but definitely not one, and I would mess that up, too.

    When I visited in the 1990s, I was surprised by how small the drinks were in restaurants. Water, Coca Cola, juice, whatever, the glass was not much larger than a shot glass in the U.S. All the drinks were carbonated, too. I had fizzy orange juice and seltzer water. No ice, so warm Coca Cola. When I went back in 2008, all of that seemed to have changed and things were more like they are in the U.S., which actually kind of made me sad.

    My relatives took us to a club and I was surprised to discover that American country music and line dancing were in big demand.

    There were some really interesting five-way intersections with mirrors so that you could see the cars coming. I quickly gained a whole lot of respect for their driving skills.

    The red light districts were a bit of a shock to me in the 1990s. The relatives drove us through to see the ladies marketing themselves in the windows of the houses.

    The older relatives would get mad at us if we wanted to shower more than once or twice a week.
    Last edited by Eilonwy; 12-21-2013 at 12:12 PM.
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  7. #7
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    The older relatives would get mad at us if we wanted to shower more than once or twice a week.
    Did they smell any different?
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  8. #8
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    a)I'll give you two of mine when I moved to Germany from (northern) Italy:

    -People work using "time slots" to do things in office jobs, rather than going by priority.
    -If you grill something with colleagues, you bring your own food and cook it there, rather than each one sharing what he has brought (I find it sad). Some people may even bring back home the beers they brought, if nobody drunk them

    b)I've heard from Germans:

    - Drinking canned beers or wine bottles in the street is not "socially allowed".
    - Adults often meet their parents at least twice a month, if they don't live far apart.
    - Nobody drinks cappuccino after a meal.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  9. #9
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    a) Tipping. One of the most annoying thing about travelling is sitting in a cafe/restaurant/taxi/whatever and having to work out how much to tip (or if I supposed to tip in that situation). When order something from a menu in NZ, I do so knowing that I will pay the exact amount written next to that item; NO MATHS INVOLVED. I can't tell you how often I have carefully ordered things when overseas, thinking I'm getting a good deal, only to go over my budget when the tip and/or tax is figured in. I always get distracted when calculating the exchange rate and plain forget. I just think my brain won't accept tipping as a legitimate factor in buying things.

    b) New Zealand words and use of language often mess with people. 2 examples:
    - "Bring a plate" is a common phrase on invitations to an event (like a social gathering, school function or charity event) which means "bring finger food". Foreigners have often made the mistake of taking this request too literally - which we find rather amusing.
    -Also using the word "root" in any shape or form (other than to describe the bottom part of a plant) is a bad, bad idea. In NZ, "root" is a rather crude word for sex, and failure to understand this often has hilarious results. I've heard about a woman who asked the people sitting next to her at a rugby game, "which team do you root for?". I've also heard about a Year 10 English teacher who was asked by his students what he did on the weekend, and, having recent moved house, he said, "I spent the whole time rooting around in boxes with my wife".

    c) New Zealanders tend to be overly casual about things and it tends to make people in other countries (other than Australia) uncomfortable or confused. We don't get that jandals (what we call flip flops) and shorts aren't considered all occasion dress. We don't get why walking around barefoot isn't common elsewhere. We don't get that showing up at a friends house for a coffee or a drink unannounced is frowned upon. We don't get why people are so informal and distant with strangers, when we're just chatting away to everyone we meet.
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  10. #10
    Rainy Day Member Ingrid in grids's Avatar
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    I haven't experienced culture shock, but I did experience some reverse culture shock when I returned to Australia after a couple of months in West Africa. I had some trouble going into large, gaudy, visually "busy" places—particularly supermarkets—for about a week or so. I found them overwhelming and they made me panicky. My bedroom also made me feel a bit panicky and I had trouble sleeping there immediately after I got back. The ceiling was too high, my bed was too big, and I couldn't sleep with all my stuff around. I think I moved most of the furniture out into another room so I could find some peace for the first few days, and I ended up getting rid of a lot of my stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    a) Tipping. One of the most annoying thing about travelling is sitting in a cafe/restaurant/taxi/whatever and having to work out how much to tip (or if I supposed to tip in that situation). When order something from a menu in NZ, I do so knowing that I will pay the exact amount written next to that item; NO MATHS INVOLVED. I can't tell you how often I have carefully ordered things when overseas, thinking I'm getting a good deal, only to go over my budget when the tip and/or tax is figured in. I always get distracted when calculating the exchange rate and plain forget. I just think my brain won't accept tipping as a legitimate factor in buying things.
    Yes, it's fairly common not to tip in Australia, unless you're dining out somewhere expensive. When I've been overseas, I've sometimes forgot to tip at more casual places and then felt really rude, or that I was insulting their service.

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