Don’t Let The Door Hit You…

Some cultural differences can be really subtle. Other ones can make you realize that ‘this is how it actually goes here’. And then there are some that can make you feel truly alienated. Sure enough, you cannot realize differences until you see both sides, so to make sure you do, I’ll show you what I am used to.

When I visit some one in the Netherlands, the process of saying goodbye is pretty much always the same. After an evening or afternoon spent together, all participating parties walk to the door, say their goodbyes at the door, walk outside and then turn around to greet each other one last time (by waving or saying so) while walking away.

What you can't see, is she's waving at a closed door

The American approach is a little different. For one thing, there doesn’t seem to be such a standard in goodbyes. What is the same in every case I’ve seen and been in, is that being together stops whenever you have said goodbyes. Or wherever. I have had situations where I gave someone a hug, stood in the middle of the room, waiting for them to walk me to the door only to see them start doing the dishes. Other times I would be walked out, turn around for a final wave and see the door shut. It was okay, it is just one of those things that make you realize you’re from another place.

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On an unrelated note: I found an opposite blog recently. It’s a girl studying in Leiden (my hometown), coming from Saint Louis. You can check her out atΒ


27 thoughts on “Don’t Let The Door Hit You…

  1. In Minnesota we get teased for our long drawn-out goodbyes. It goes in stages. First the guests say they have to leave, 10 minutes later they make their way to the door, get jackets (hats, mittens, scarves, boots, depending on the season, which takes awhile in its own) then it’s as if a new topic always comes up and a 15 minute conversation is held with one hand on the doorknob. Then the guests appologizes for keeping the host and says their third or fourth goodbye. I’ve seen it in action. My brother who lives in the south says he misses that…kind of.

  2. I was born and raised in Southern California and my family always walked (and still do) people out to their cars. It depends. We don’t visit my mom that often, so when we (and the grandkids) visit, it’s a big deal. However, when I saw my mom several times during the week (while single) I was hugged and off I went out the door. It’s the same for us. Some people we hug and see them out the door…and others we walk out to the car. It just depends on the situation. We always walk to the door…but I wonder, if I didn’t have to deadbolt for the evening…would I always walk them to the door? Hmmmm. I could see getting lazy…especially since we are constantly inviting people over…

    Lake Forest, CA

    • I think what you’re used to is an important influence. Also the night you’ve had, how many thoughts are running through your mind… I never felt bad about it, although I like some traditions that I (sometimes my culture) have.

  3. Cultural differences… I move to South America 20 years ago. Brazil first, Rio where the custom to greet women (known or not) is a kiss (peck) on each cheek. I did the same in Uruguay, where the double kiss is MORE than is acceptable, just one.


  4. Pingback: Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion « Clarissa's Blog

  5. in the UK goodbyes are intense… sometimes it takes people at least 1/2 hour to leave our house. firstly they remark on how lovely its been and how we must do it again soon after talking about how it has been far too long since we last saw them. Then we have the first goodbye. We make our way into the kitchen as they ask if we need help clearing up. second goodbye. then we go into the hallway and we talk about what is planned for this week and always manage to find at least 20 more things to discuss. then they leave the house and stand on the doorstep as we discuss the weather and how we wish them a safe trip home. then my mum refuses to close the door until we can no longer see their car….. it is lovely though i wouldn’t have it any other way! teach your guests how to do a proper goodbye πŸ™‚
    hope you are having a safe trip πŸ™‚

  6. Where I come from (Miami, Florida) we were raised to walk people to the door, and often out to their cars when seeing them off. Some of my friends even had trouble letting me leave! I have been to a few different parts of the US as well to Europe (and the Netherlands! — the Europe trip was a very long time ago though) so I’ve experienced a few different kinds of good-byes, and while some were less demonstrative than others, I’ve never had anyone just pretend I had vanished after saying goodbye to them and then doing the dishes as if I wasn’t still in their house! That would be a harbinger of “okay, I guess they’re not getting a follow-up visit from me.”

    I will say that when it comes to family members I lived with and very good friends whose house I was into and out of good-byes fit themselves to the circumstances. If I was just leaving to go to the store I didn’t expect anyone to stop what they were doing and see me out the door, but if I was leaving for a trip or (in the case of friends) to go home I still got seen to the door or car.

    • Nah, I was warned by my parents who lived in Michigan for a year, so I never felt not welcome anymore. It was just new to really experience the difference. Of course, different people and different occasions call for different situations, but if anyone visits me hear (I live in a dorm building), I’ll watch them walk down the stairs until I cannot see them anymore. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  7. Thanks for the link to my blog! I love reading the differences you’ve noticed while being in the States, especially since I’m over in Leiden. I’ve noticed what you meant by the Dutch goodbyes. . . the biggest difference for me is getting the greeting correct. Because back in St. Louis we either wave, hug, or just smile and start talking to the person we are visiting. Here, it’s the “3 kisses” on the cheek that throws me off (I’m so used to my own personal space).

  8. When we visited Aruba, our family would get on the elevator with what I think were people from Dutch and they would not say hello or small talk ever, but always turned and said goodbye to everyone on the elevator when they left. So funny! I love traveling and witnessing other cultures.

  9. As a German living in the UK I was quite startled at first when British people said Goodbye by pecking me on the cheeks (3 x). This started back in the 1980s, methinks, when Brits thought all continental Europeans said goodbye in that way…Germans shake hands when they part…no kissing unless you’re a potential boy/girlfriend or a creep…and when Germans meet again, they shake hands again…and again when they part…while British people only shake hands once, when they are first introduced to one another. I love the above comments. Thanks for this cheerful take on other cultures.

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