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Cultural Exchange April 2012 - Funny Stories and Faux Pas

Thursday, April 12, 2012 6:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Many of the members have moved around the world settling for years at a time in countries with unfamiliar cultures, and even a move within the US can feel like being in another country. We all have interesting anecdotes and stories to share about our life experiences.

For the April 12th event we had a small intimate group. We started with a relaxed, leisurely lunch then we formed an informal circle to just chat and connect. We spent the next couple of hours laughing non stop as we shared some very funny stories about how we each adjusted to living in an unfamiliar environment. What I discovered was that we have some budding comedians in our group – very funny storytellers!


Ines A, Sandra C, Brigitte F, Lalitha R, Elaine M, Maria V, Brigitte K, Mary Louise H,

This is the one event where I did not take notes as I was too busy laughing! However, since you know who attended, feel free to ask the ladies to tell you their story next time you meet! I am sure you have one or two to share yourself. But just as a teaser, let me give you some highlights:

Ines spoke about the concept of time and punctuality in Venezuela as compared to the USA in the context of children’s birthday parties and play dates.  Venezuelans are more relaxed about arriving on time so at her child’s birthday party, the movie was running 15 minutes late.  The US parents arrived punctually, so Ines invited them to please come in and have some refreshments and relax but the parents refused to sit. They just stood at the back with their arms crossed waiting for the movie to end, which was quite perplexing for Ines and her husband! In Venezuela children’s birthday parties were always an opportunity for parents to visit as well.

Sandra talked about adjusting to a new life and the cultural plusses and minuses of living in the Netherlands as an American/Ecuadorian and the challenges of getting to know the Dutch as friends and neighbors, eating habits, setting limits and more.

Marie Louise, as a Canadian, was surprised at the “all work and no play” attitude of Americans and was unhappy about how it negatively impacted her family’s quality of life and work/life balance when her husband accepted a position in the US and was pulled into the same mindset, ie. work comes first.

Brigitte F from France spoke of her adventures as an au pair for a family in Harvard MA and how at a party she ended up unexpectedly meeting and dancing with a member of the Kennedy family who then made it easy for her to get a green card without the usual runaround and paperwork — A Cinderella story of sorts.

Brigitte K drove in the US like she would on the German autobahn – very fast – She told us how she avoided getting a speeding ticket in the US – the officer let them off once he heard her husband’s heavy Norwegian accent.

Elaine M as a young married student moved from New York to Brighton, MA. She was hilarious as she recounted tales of how her landlord stole her husband’s tie and brazenly wore it in front of them, how they had their car stolen – twice (?) and how their apartment building had a fire and was cordoned off by yellow tape, but Elaine and her husband, after a long tiring day, blissfully unaware, crossed the line and went into their apartment and slept there anyway only realizing the severity of the situation the next morning!!

Maria V had to leave early so we did not get her story.

Lalitha R – my story is about coconut oil.  In a tropical climate like India my mother applied a few drops of coconut oil to my hair everyday when she braided my long hair to keep it healthy, conditioned and shiny. Unfortunately when we moved to Geneva, Switzerland and my mother once again lovingly braided my hair using coconut oil the results were disastrous. Not so funny when you are an awkward pre-teen but definitely hilarious when I think back now! The Swiss cold winter temperatures caused the coconut oil to congeal on my well groomed head and the cute boy sitting next to me in class looked at me with wide eyed horror, pointed at my head and asked “What happened??? “ My head was caked with lovely strips of congealed white coconut oil!!!!!

We only have two more events left before we take a break for the summer. I hope you will all make an effort to join us.

- Submitted by Lalitha

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