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.
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 at http://foreignexchangestudent.wordpress.com.