One of the things I love the most about traveling is being shocked and finding out that my common sense is not always so common. I love that thrill of wonder and confussion, that disorientation that comes with the questioning of your reality. I wanna share that feeling, so here are some things that have made me go “Whaaaat?!?”‘:
1. Swedish people avoid sitting next to other people in buses:
According to my Danish cousin who’s lived in Sweden most of her life, people in Sweden avoid sitting next to other people in a bus. They will always take a seat in an empty row, and if there are no empty rows they’ll stand up rather than sit next to a stranger (unless the bus is really crowded of course). I still have a hard time wrapping my head around this but hey whatever floats your cultural boat!
2. Peruvians have a slang word for everything:
I was very confident when I went to Peru. First of all, Spanish is my first language, and second of all, I’ve lived in Miami long enough to understand the slang of all Latin American countries….or so I thought. The reality was that often, Peruvian slang is so different from anything I’d ever heard, I had a hard time understanding some things. And it’s not just that their slang is different. They have slang for things I would’ve never thought of having slang for, like walking and napping! Hearing someone say “Man, I walked home and then took a nap” was like Finnish to me.
3. Americans only have one last name:
This might seem natural to a lot of you but when I found this out it shook the foundations of my being. To me, it makes no sense that your last names just…disappear, and that you wouldn’t use your mother’s last name. We officially have two last names, and then you remember as many last names as you can or want. I finally understand why Anglophones think Hispanics have long names!
4. In Brazil, the mother’s last name comes first:
Continuing on the theme of last names, I found this extremely interesting. I had never heard of a culture that puts the mother’s last name first, and I quite frankly love it!
5. Asking for a glass of tap water in Switzerland is faux-pas:
In France, it’s standard to ask for a bottle of tap water everywhere. So I didn’t think anything of asking for a glass of water at a cafe in Zurich, especially because I’d bought something. The look the waitress gave made me feel as if I had spit on the table and asked a monkey to dance on it. When I looked at my Swiss friend he looked at me awkwardly and told me that you don’t really do that in Switzerland, since asking for a glass of tap water is kind of rude. Whoops!
So there ya go! What are some things that have turned your cultural perspective into the twirling scene from “Vertigo”?