Moving to another part of the world can be exciting! It can also hold some frustration. When you experience a new culture – a good advice is to just take it all in. Try to leave interpretation and judgment behind for a while, until you learn more about the rules, norms and values. It will save you some emotional rides. I know it sounds easier said than done, but from the top of my head I can think of situations where I have felt indignation and later learnt that there was no such intent behind. It was just a matter of cultural difference.
This is not only valid for expatriation but for all encounters with a, to us, new culture.
2 thoughts on “Intention vs. perception – when moving abroad”
It’s so easy to misinterpret what is said or what is meant when living in a foreign country! I remember well when I first lived in Kenya, and two Kikuyu girls were hiding on my porch from a torrential rain. They did not want to come inside. I offered them a cup of chai, tea, and one said, “I don’t mind.” I felt rather taken aback, thinking, well, if you don’t mind, why should I? Of course later I learned that it meant, yes, please. 😉
Yes, it’s so easy to feel hurt. Nuances & language as well as how we act in different cultures take us there sometimes! One thing I often hear in Sweden is that people try to speak Swedish when shopping and the sales person answers in English, which make people think they can’t speak correctly & are not appreciated for their effort. A Swedish acquaintance working at the check out in a grocery store told me once she was hurt because she would speak English as a customer service but felt she did wrong. She could not understand why. She thought customers would appreciate it.