Cultural mistakes are good for you
I have made plenty of cultural mistakes in my life and I’m sure I am not alone.
I really think it is important to be a social risk-taker in a sense.
I don’t mean aim to make faux pas, but get out there and experience things, talk to people, ask questions and enjoy your new environment.
Different cultures each have their own way of doing things and something that is considered acceptable in one country may not be in another.
My first experience of this was arriving to a formal dinner party on time in France. This made the host uncomfortable and could have risked my chance of receiving a second invitation.
Normally when you do something that is not culturally accepted or different, you will see it on the persons face or in some sort of reaction.
If you are paying attention and notice this, then you can clear things up right away.
A simple explanation of why you acted the way you did will normally clear things up right away and not only will you learn something about the new culture you are living in, but this is also a chance for you to share a little fact about your culture.
Who knows, the other person may very well appreciate this.
I have always loved moving and discovering new areas and can say with complete certainty that the reason for my success when I move is the simple fact that I continue to live. I don’t hide until I know the social graces of my new location.
I’m not afraid of making a mistake and don’t limit myself in any way.
You’re never going to get anywhere if you let fear, shyness or the consideration of what other people might think hold you back from giving it a try.
Sure, you might make some cultural mistakes by saying something inappropriate or laughing at the wrong part of the joke but who cares?!
The reason you are in this situation is because you decided to go somewhere new and learn.
Like everything in life, if you want to learn something new you have to be open to making a few mistakes.
That’s part of the process of learning.
Keep in mind that people can see you’re a foreigner making an effort and will likely be more forgiving than if you don’t try at all.
Plus, you’ll learn an important lesson for next time.
Every time I have moved, I have always gone away with precious friendships as a result of putting myself out there.
Don’t wait to be introduced to people – get out there and take some risks.
The best example I have for this statement is when we purchased our watermill in France.
Nestled in the Loire Valley we found our dream home for that phase of our lives.
Being a watermill with a very large property, our closest neighbours were about 500 meters from us and we were in a small village.
We went around town putting letters in mailboxes.
A simple announcement introducing ourselves as the new owners of the mill and mentioned we were eager to meet each of them.
We included an invitation for a brunch that Sunday.
Everyone that was invited came.
My husband is still convinced to this day that they came just to see who the crazy people were that invite strangers to their home, but regardless of why they came. They came and I was happy!
They stayed the entire day and more than a few bottles of champagne were opened.
Friendships were made not only with us but between people that had been neighbours for over a decade and had never met in person yet.
Fast forward to 4 years later, some of them have come to visit us in Germany, some have even made it a yearly tradition and though we no longer live in the Loire Valley we still have plenty of places to call home there.