One of my favorite Expat books is called “Almost French”. It’s the story of an Australian girl who meets and marries a French man and moves to Paris. She writes about the culture differences and oh, there are a-plenty! My favorite is when she goes to a cocktail party and all the guests are standing around amongst these closed bottles of champagne, yet no one is opening them or pouring. Finally she can not take it anymore and opens one of the bottles and starts filling glasses. Quelle Horreur! Ah, things are just not done like that in Paris.
I keep having these same sorts of moments- nothing major or a deal breaker sort of occurrence but minor things. Like a stupid for instance- my boyfriend and I talked about getting his Mom flowers. So we were in a supermarket the other day and I pointed out these beautiful tulips. They were small bouquets but in my mind, we could buy two of them, I could take them apart, make a nice bouquet, tie them with ribbon, etc. (after all as part of my ship life, I taught flower arranging!) But he said No, that those types of bouquets are only if you buy them for yourself and NOT to give as a present. Come again? In America, flowers are flowers. But the Dutch have this way of putting bouquets together and apparently that is the only form of flowers that are acceptable to bring to someone. Really?
I know our rules are way more relaxed in America, but a
gift is a gift, no? I mean if someone came to my house with a box of Saltines
and a can of Cheez Whiz and offered it up as a present, I’d be pleased as
pie. I can only assume though that if I did the same here, that just would not
**Update and Revision**
Language barriers and Cultural misunderstandings abound. Later, I was speaking about this topic with my boyfriend and I realized that to my fault that I had never really pleaded my case or made my intentions known about what I was planning to do with the 2 bouquets and creating my own arrangement. Turns out this would have made a great gift and have been completely acceptable. But that is such as it is with Expat Life- you just never fully know where you stand or if you are perceiving something correctly or are just blinded by your own experiences. Some things get lost in translations and others get buried in Cultural misunderstandings. I guess I also have to better learn to communicate. Well, no one said this journey of mine would be easy.