Have you had a chance to..
Not sure how many of us get the chance to do so, or how many would even fathom such a setting or atmosphere. But if you have ever had the opportunity to mix with people from different countries, especially in a forum where all are educated and professionals and may or may not belong to the same company/firm or have a common professional goal, you will know, it usually is very enriching and leads to some very interesting conversations. But of course the minimum requirement is to have a common language to communicate. Today, thanks to the advancement in modes of travel, communication and technology, many people working for multinational companies get the opportunity to attend conferences or go for trainings/workshops across the globe.
Coffee & Conversations...
My favourite conversations have been in such very settings where people of different nationalities got a chance to interact. It is the most fascinating of experiences sprinkled with laughter, astonishment and surprising pieces of information!
We have talked about our life in general, work life balance, priorities, ambitions, festivals, attire & fashion, family life and values, customs and traditions and also traffic in our home countries.
Barring the fact, that we have different accents, one comes across various modes of expression within the same English language. Someone sent an email once saying ‘I’ll see you when I get there’ and the receiver was wondering if he was expected to be at the airport to pick up the person while all the person was saying was a casual ‘cya’! What is acceptable in one country and considered normal usage may not be so in another country. Different ways of pronouncing the same word will be very evident too. For example, the word ‘Obligatory’.
British English pronounces it as / əˈblɪg.ə.tər.i /
US English pronounces the same word as / uh-blig-uh-tawr-ee /
Spellings too will differ and one will observe mine tend to lean towards the British usage vis-a-vis the American ones. Favourite Vs Favorite and energise Vs energize!
Do you think it is interesting to meet people from different countries?
It is quite interesting to learn about food habits as well. Vegetarianism was not as common as it is now. Some years ago, being a non vegetarian was considered by default for everyone. Meal timings differ too, for some dinner is at 6.30 pm and for others it is at 9 pm. For some a sandwich or a salad is a meal in itself and for some it is far from a regular meal.
Various countries drive on the different side of the road and hence the pedestrian walking sides change as well. Road rules vary in certain countries.
Electrical plug points differ! What can be used in UK cannot be used in US or India or even Switzerland! What is considered ON in US is OFF in some other countries. Thankfully nowadays you get multi plug adapters for those who travel internationally.
Modes of displaying respect and chivalry can be varying from country to country.
Gifting ideas! What is considered a harmless gift in one culture can be quite opposite in another. For example, a clock is not considered an appropriate gift for Chinese people, since it is related to a death of a known person or attending the funeral of someone you knew.
We differ, yet we are the same..
There is so much out there in this world to experience and see, that a lifetime of travel may not be enough. But it sure does help you broaden your horizon and viewpoints.
Some tips to keep in mind when interacting with folks from various countries are –
- Speak slowly
- Speak clearly
- Use simple words to explain yourself
- Be gentle and have a calm tone
- Avoid long sentences
- Be patient
- Be respectful and don’t laugh!
All in all, as you get a chance to wander around the globe and meet people from various walks of life, you will realise, at the end of day, each of us strive for more or less the same things irrespective of which part of the world we belong to: to lead a good life, to help raise our children well, to work towards the pursuit of our dreams.
May this world be a global village of peace, happiness, good health and prosperity for us all.