Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Handshake for a Kiss

To be quite honest, one of the strangest things about coming here, to me at least, is the way people greet each other. In the United States, when meeting a person for the first time, the usual firm handshake is expected. In Latin American countries, a light kiss on the cheek is the customary way of greeting a person; it is not a slobbery kiss smack dab on your face, it’s more like a kiss to the air and slight contact between cheeks. And from then on, greetings with friends become more affectionate and even "explosive", you could say. Upon seeing a friend, you'd find them yell out your name (MARI!!!) and open there arms really big and plant a big kiss on your cheeks and then hug for another 3 to 5 seconds. Here in the U.S. a friendly hug is about as far as that will go. Awkwardly enough, I have found myself going in for a kiss subconsciously and I have seriously "weirded" out the person. Now I don't know about you, but I love greeting people with a kiss, I find it a wonderful icebreaker and just so much warmer. I get a better sense of humanity; I love to show my friends that I love that, and to show strangers that I am open and willing to let them into my lives as new friends.

Maybe this world would be a better place if we showed just a bit more affection, even if it is toward a stranger... honestly, who would mind that? What is so bad about a simple air kiss? Cultural differences can be definitive when it comes to such a simple thing as a greeting, but they can make such a huge difference. I cannot imagine how Anh, a friend from Vietnam, would react to someone just lunging in to plant one on her without even knowing her.

I think it will take me a while to get used to just a wave of the hand or a light one-arm hug, but one of the great things about Trinity is the wide diversity of people and learning all their different ways of greeting, what is acceptable and what is not. Hopefully I will be able to avoid any other awkward greeting... but I will stick to the effusive, loud, and warm greetings that I love.

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handshake by buddawiggi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

1 comment:

  1. I am a hugger, but I have a friend that was called in by TU Human Resources because a person was offended by her hug!