Friday, January 19, 2007

Lección 1: Cultural differences with greetings and farewells

Lección 1: Cultural differences with greetings and farewells

Greetings and farewells are a very important part of socializing in any culture. In the United States, it is very common to greet someone with a handshake in a formal situation, or a "hi 5" or a hug in an informal situation. This simple greeting differs amongst various cultures, and getting it wrong can lead to embarrassing situations!

In Spain and throughout most of Latin America, it is very common for greetings and farewells between guys and girls and between girls to be done with a light kiss on the cheek. In Argentina, guys also greet and say good-bye to each other in the same manner. But be careful...this is only in Argentina. A guy kissing another guy on the cheek in other parts of the Spanish speaking world can lead to a very bad situation.

In Columbia, the handshake is more common, but a kiss on the cheek will be accepted between guys and girls. However, the locals will know immediately that you are not from there if the kiss happens.

The point is that something as simple as a greeting or farewell can be specific to a culture, and one should always try to learn the appropriate way to greet someone when traveling abroad in order to respect the local culture. Most people will understand that you are not from there and will accept the handshake, but in order to really get along with people from a different culture, learning their ways is best.

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