Jump to content

Menu

Calling cats and kids (children) in your culture.....


Joan in GE
 Share

Recommended Posts

and other cultural differences that you notice in travels or living expatriatically (ok, that word is not in my dictionary. I invented it - I think - intending to mean 'as an expatriate':001_smile:)..

 

It took me a long time to realize that calling my children loudly just isn't done here.... Now even my children will say sometimes - you're talking too loudly mom... And I notice foreigners because they call their children out loud.

 

Somehow it seems like people know where their children are and their children know when they are supposed to come back without calling. There are also 'eye' signals...so that all is done without attracting any attention.

 

Then cats - calling 'viens chat, chat, chat' (trying to call - here kitty, kitty) just doesn't work...I asked someone how they call a cat that is not theirs...First she looked at me funny as if it wasn't even done...then she could say - you say 'Minou'...

 

So I'm wondering about other cultural experiences that have been a surprise to people - whether it is how people call their children or don't, call animals, or other things that took a long time to realize and thought it might lead to some interesting understandings....

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting observations!

 

I can't claim originality for this one - I read it in the book "French Kids Eat Everything", but apparently the French don't snack in between meals. It was considered wrong to offer children snacks because it would spoil their appetite for a good, solid meal later.

 

In the US and Sweden, snack times are a given. Where I grew up, there was more snacking even, and it was considered perfectly all right to offer children snacks out of courtesy. Our last visit, while were on the subway, a very nice lady (but a stranger nonetheless) offered my children candy after we had chatted a few minutes. So I have had to balance the messages about "no taking gifts from strangers" with "here is how you decline politely (instead of looking alarmed)".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't claim originality for this one - I read it in the book "French Kids Eat Everything", but apparently the French don't snack in between meals. It was considered wrong to offer children snacks because it would spoil their appetite for a good, solid meal later.

 

In the US and Sweden, snack times are a given. Where I grew up, there was more snacking even, and it was considered perfectly all right to offer children snacks out of courtesy. Our last visit, while were on the subway, a very nice lady (but a stranger nonetheless) offered my children candy after we had chatted a few minutes. So I have had to balance the messages about "no taking gifts from strangers" with "here is how you decline politely (instead of looking alarmed)".

 

This is an important point about snacking! Here they do have an official 'snack time' called the 'gouter' which is at 4 pm. (Is that just Swiss?) And they will easily have a slice of bread with a slab of chocolate (yes, from a chocolate bar) - something I would consider as candy. Can't say that I've minded this though. There's an old movie called "Bread and Chocolate" though there isn't much about bread and chocolate in it...

 

I hadn't known it was wrong to offer snacks at the wrong time. :-) I must have broken that rule a lot before I finally understood the importance of the 'gouter'....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

About snacking: I remember going to Calvin's TKD class in China. It went on for the whole afternoon, something like 1pm to 5pm. Most children had at least one adult sitting watching. Over the whole of that time, I saw no adult snack, although many brought green tea to sip. The children left the class at regular intervals to drink water, but they had no snacks.

 

Another food difference: fruit is given as a gift, but rarely bought for personal consumption. Fruit stalls are full of presentation boxes of fruit; our local fruit seller found our habits very strange.

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

when you are invited for the coffee in the Netherlands, they expect you at 10.00 (in the morning) or at 20.00 (in the evening), in the afternoon (15.00) you will be invited for 'tea'.

 

Just a curiosity, do they call it "English tea" or "Afternoon tea" or just "tea" there?

 

It took me a long time to realize that calling my children loudly just isn't done here........There are also 'eye' signals...so that all is done without attracting any attention.

 

Even here different cities seems to have different tolerance for calling kids at normal volume. For example in Starbucks or any cafe, some cities you can call your child over to the counter and nobody minds, some cities people would expect you to go get your kid rather than call them.

 

When I was in Sydney, people behave differently in downtown and at the suburbs.

 

When I was in Beijing and Hong Kong, it was the typical big city culture and you have to bargain if you buy from a stall. Prices are typically inflated to account for bargaining.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an important point about snacking! Here they do have an official 'snack time' called the 'gouter' which is at 4 pm. (Is that just Swiss?) And they will easily have a slice of bread with a slab of chocolate (yes, from a chocolate bar) - something I would consider as candy. ...

 

In Germany, we do not consider this a snack, but a regular afternoon meal, "Vesper" - around 3 or 4pm, usually something sweet (bread with jam, or cake). It is a very typical occasion for casual socialization, people will invite others for coffee and cake in the afternoon into their homes.

 

We also do a 2nd breakfast; kids eat at home before school, and then have a meal at school around 9 or 9:30 where they eat a sandwich or fruit or yoghurt they brought from home. One break between periods is longer for this specific purpose.

So, basically, Germans have 5 meals: 1st breakfast, 2nd breakfast, lunch, vesper, dinner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, basically, Germans have 5 meals: 1st breakfast, 2nd breakfast, lunch, vesper, dinner.

 

I never heard afternoon coffee called Vesper, always Kaffee - could that be regional?

 

Also never had two breakfasts... eee, I gained enough weight with daily Kaffee (which always included Kuchen - YUM). What is typically served at one breakfast vs. the other?

 

And dinner in the middle of the day, and supper (light evening meal, usually meat/cheese/bread) in the evening (largest meal in English is always dinner, whenever it is served.) At least where and when I lived in Germany, they still had the large meal in the middle of the day, but that was almost 30 years ago. Maybe that's starting to change with more women working or longer commutes?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Belgians made fun of Dutch because we offer at coffeedrinking each, one cookie and close then the cookiebox (then opening it with the next round, so the cookies stay fresh).

 

 

The Swedes are in between - they make a plate, but they make sure everyone gets at least one of each type of cookie (typically 2-3 types of cookies). My dc were instructed to 'take their fair share', and wait to see if everyone had taken (or declined) their cookie before going for seconds.

 

The nightly coffee was typically taken while watching the nightly news, and self-made sandwiches were also an option (crispbread, butter, cheese). I certainly found many reasons to gain weight while in Sweden. :tongue_smilie:

 

Now, I may have taken this thread on a tangent by bringing up food so I have another indirect observation to bring it back.

 

While strolling downtown with my dc, a young man (with a French accent) asked me if the bank was open. I replied that it should be since it wasn't a public or bank holiday. His response was: Yes, but it's lunch time, are they open right now? and I replied again in the affirmative. It was only a little later that I realized that perhaps where he came from, banks close for lunch break? It never occurred to me since that would typically be the busiest hour in a workday here.

 

I did experience in Sweden, especially in winter, the banks closed earlier (3pm) so between the limited hours, daylight and the fact we walked everywhere I had to be focused on planning our day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was in Sydney, people behave differently in downtown and at the suburbs.

 

Sydney as in Australia? Hee hee! It looks so funny to see "downtown" used in reference to a place of ours.

 

I learned that it is very uncivilised to eat chocolate before lunch in Poland and that morning tea will spoil your appetite. Bad luck if you had an early breakfast, are hungry at ten in the morning and your aunt decides not to serve lunch until two. My relatives seemed very surprised that I fed my one year old before eating myself. I'm wondering how they keep their babies quiet if they're not old enough to handle their own soup...

 

Polish children are expected to play on equipment, not on the ground, and to know which equipment is appropriate for their age. My dd and our small French cousin must have looked like yahoos though nobody bat an eyelid.

 

Also, if you have to leave your baby in the pram at the front of the shop because it won't fit down the aisles, everyone in the shop will laugh at you if the baby doesn't stay quiet.

 

Rosie

Edited by Rosie_0801
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, if you have to leave your baby in the pram at the front of the shop because it won't fit down the aisles, everyone in the shop will laugh at you if the baby doesn't stay quiet.

 

Rosie

 

In China, people often laugh when they are uncomfortable in a situation. This can be disconcerting. I remember a friend whose small child always wept when put onto the school bus. The bus mother used to laugh when my friend expressed concern and continue laughing whilst dealing with the child. The bus mother was worried about the child, her own position, and dealing with the child's parents, so she laughed. To an outside eye, it looked as if she were laughing at the child's distress.

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, not nearly as interesting as your all's but... there is no small talk while standing in lines at stores here. Not chatting with people ringing you up, either. One time I was in Iowa, not but a half hour from my home, and a woman in line at the grocery store started chatting with me. Took em a full minute to remember my manners and chat back.

 

In San Francisco we take our leftovers in to-go containers and them leave them on top of the lids to garbage cans for the homeless to eat.

 

Ooo, one actual answer to the question. In San Francisco the parenting advice is that you not call out to your kids by their name. The reason is that a child predator might over hear you and use the name as a way to abduct your child/ren. So I've always called out to my dd "mi hijita", which is Mexican and literally means "my daughter", but ti's also a term of endearment. Surprisingly NO ONE called their kids that at the playgrounds, so it was our code word. The same has been true here in Minnesota, though the local Latino population is largely Nicaraguan.

Edited by Elizabeth in MN
added answer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In San Francisco the parenting advice is that you not call out to your kids by their name. The reason is that a child predator might over hear you and use the name as a way to abduct your child/ren.

 

I thought this type of hysteria had been debunked long ago. I would rather just tell my kids not to go with someone they don't know. I never really think about this in a way that affects my life. I've discussed it with them, but virtually all abductions come from family arguments (like custody disputes). There are a lot of angry parents/stepparents/partners of parents who kill their partners or children, not so much strangers. Plus I've got two kids whose name strangers never get right.

 

When I lived in Boston, every night this lady down the block would go outside at the appointed time and scream for "Chaaaaaaaaaaarlie!" I can still hear it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What fascinating differences!

 

If I started a Mind Map, we'd have started several branches of customs/habits now...

 

Food/eating

 

Child raising

 

Laughter

 

Store/shopping behaviour

 

Caring for the needy

 

Laura - I didn't realize 'fruit' was so atypical in China...

 

but the word coffee or tea is implicating the time, and of course we think everybody knows that ;).

In Belgium you drink tea if you have to, as medicin. (or when you are a foreigner :lol:)

 

So funny how people can get such defined habits.....

 

Even here different cities seems to have different tolerance for calling kids at normal volume.

 

When I was in Sydney, people behave differently in downtown and at the suburbs.

 

When I was in Beijing and Hong Kong, it was the typical big city culture and you have to bargain if you buy from a stall. Prices are typically inflated to account for bargaining.

 

You've made me wonder if it isn't partly a question of practicality...in the countryside...people get further away...I can hear my sister calling her children all the time (she has 12:)). And I grew up where there was a big yard and house....no way my mom would walk all over looking for us...

 

But that doesn't explain different cities having different habits...very interesting....I never guessed there were differences in the US! This is going to make me even more observant when I go home next...

 

So, basically, Germans have 5 meals: 1st breakfast, 2nd breakfast, lunch, vesper, dinner.

 

I had heard that typically at work people would have a second breakfast at 10. (I have kind of started doing this myself as that's when I actually get hungry - and just have a hot drink earlier).

 

But I didn't know there were '5' meals...

 

And dinner in the middle of the day, and supper (light evening meal, usually meat/cheese/bread) in the evening (largest meal in English is always dinner, whenever it is served.) At least where and when I lived in Germany, they still had the large meal in the middle of the day, but that was almost 30 years ago. Maybe that's starting to change with more women working or longer commutes?

 

Here people still typically have the large meal at 'lunch' time...and what is called "café complet" for what we call supper...(though they might call it 'souper' in some families, though in France it is the 'diner' and here 'diner' is at lunch!)

 

Café complet is fresh bread, jam and butter, +/or a couple of cheeses, maybe some lunch meat - in fact - what we would call sandwiches.:001_smile:

 

The Swedes are in between - they make a plate, but they make sure everyone gets at least one of each type of cookie (typically 2-3 types of cookies). My dc were instructed to 'take their fair share', and wait to see if everyone had taken (or declined) their cookie before going for seconds.

 

 

While strolling downtown with my dc, a young man (with a French accent) asked me if the bank was open. I replied that it should be since it wasn't a public or bank holiday. His response was: Yes, but it's lunch time, are they open right now? and I replied again in the affirmative. It was only a little later that I realized that perhaps where he came from, banks close for lunch break? It never occurred to me since that would typically be the busiest hour in a workday here.

 

Yes the French still guard their lunch time off quite fiercely though it is slowly changing...first with the big foodstores...at least the part of French surrounding Geneva...

 

Also, if you have to leave your baby in the pram at the front of the shop because it won't fit down the aisles, everyone in the shop will laugh at you if the baby doesn't stay quiet.

 

This reminded me of that Danish family that left their child in the pram in front of the restaurant years ago in NY and got arrested...

 

In China, people often laugh when they are uncomfortable in a situation. This can be disconcerting.

 

Another thing I hadn't realized. And we do have Chinese guests from time to time...

 

there is no small talk while standing in lines at stores here. Not chatting with people ringing you up, either. One time I was in Iowa, not but a half hour from my home, and a woman in line at the grocery store started chatting with me. Took em a full minute to remember my manners and chat back.

 

In San Francisco we take our leftovers in to-go containers and them leave them on top of the lids to garbage cans for the homeless to eat.

 

In San Francisco the parenting advice is that you not call out to your kids by their name. The reason is that a child predator might over hear you and use the name as a way to abduct your child/ren.

 

And here I thought it was the 'American' thing to chat with the cashier...

 

Well here, they are still trying to abduct children...A very good friend just had a stranger asking the name of his child in the park, then taking her hand and starting to walk away... the police were there in an instant upon being called as this is not uncommon....

 

I really like that idea for the homeless...

 

When I lived in Boston, every night this lady down the block would go outside at the appointed time and scream for "Chaaaaaaaaaaarlie!" I can still hear it.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Laura - I didn't realize 'fruit' was so atypical in China...

 

I think there's a lot of fancy fruit giving in Japan, too. I saw a segment on a dept store and the fruit had all been checked by some machine so you could be guaranteed the melon or strawberry was sweet. The melons cost like $100 each.

 

Btw the lady was Charlie's mom, if that wasn't clear!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My hotel was just outside the CBD and my office was at North Ryde, NSW. I guess I am so used to calling the CBD the "downtown".

 

Ooh. Look at that code switching you've got going! :D

 

(I don't think I worked out that "downtown" meant CBD until I'd been here on the forum for three years, lol.)

 

Oh, another thing about Poland. They buy boxes of chocolate to eat themselves, where we only buy them as presents.

 

Rosie

Edited by Rosie_0801
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never heard afternoon coffee called Vesper, always Kaffee - could that be regional?[]quote]

yes, both terms are used.

 

Also never had two breakfasts... eee, I gained enough weight with daily Kaffee (which always included Kuchen - YUM). What is typically served at one breakfast vs. the other?

 

First breakfast is at home before school/work. Toast/rolls with jam/honey. nutella. Nowadays also cereal (did not have that when I grew up)

2nd breakfast is at school/work: whatever you packed. Typically bread with cheese/wurst, apple or carrots, yoghurt.

 

And dinner in the middle of the day, and supper (light evening meal, usually meat/cheese/bread) in the evening (largest meal in English is always dinner, whenever it is served.) At least where and when I lived in Germany, they still had the large meal in the middle of the day, but that was almost 30 years ago. Maybe that's starting to change with more women working or longer commutes?

 

No, warm midday meal is still the norm. Younger kids get out of school before noon and go home to eat; if they heve to go to after care, they have the opportunity to eat a warm meal at school, as do older students with longer school days. Many adults have the opportunity to eat warm meal at work in the cafeteria- at all larger companies, institutes, university, hospital...

All my friends and family in Germany still eat cold meals for evening meal: bread and chees, maybe salad. Unles they ahve leftovers to warm up, or pizza. Cooking at night is something special you might do for company.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's been really interesting to read about all the different food and social traditions. When I lived in Norway, there were typically 4 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner (served fairly early, like 4pm), and evening food (kveldsmat). Breakfast, lunch and kveldsmat were often bread or crisp bread with cheese, liverwurst or fish, or jam; dinner was a hot meal. Dinner on Saturdays was almost always warm rice pudding, and usually served fairly early in the afternoon. Often families had pizza in the evening.

 

 

We've had Japanese exchange students stay with us a few times, and the biggest, more amazing thing I noticed about their eating habits were that they ate small amounts of food (compared with North American standards), but they ate every last single piece of rice. There was never anything left on the plate or bowl. I'm pretty sure my dc would be considered completely rude with the amount of food they leave on their plate, even when they think they've finished it all. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember finding this whole section of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's For the Family's Sake really weird, because she says kids need to go to bed at 6:00 pm, which she says is British nursery routine. (She also thinks no naps after the age of two.) She also fed smaller kids separately at dinner, both in terms of when, where, and what was served, or had separate people feeding them while the main group ate. She also advocates for a long, hot midday meal, which she says is traditional Swiss style.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A last one:

when you are invited for the coffee in the Netherlands, they expect you at 10.00 (in the morning) or at 20.00 (in the evening), in the afternoon (15.00) you will be invited for 'tea'. Of course you can get tea at 10 en coffee at 15.00 but the word coffee or tea is implicating the time, and of course we think everybody knows that ;).

 

Similar in Germany: if somebody invites you for "drinking coffee", it is clear to all that they are talking about the afternoon meal between 3 and 4pm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember finding this whole section of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's For the Family's Sake really weird, because she says kids need to go to bed at 6:00 pm, which she says is British nursery routine. (She also thinks no naps after the age of two.) She also fed smaller kids separately at dinner, both in terms of when, where, and what was served, or had separate people feeding them while the main group ate. She also advocates for a long, hot midday meal, which she says is traditional Swiss style.

 

We did it too when the children were small because Husband got home so late from work. Children are fed 'tea' or 'high tea' at 5 or 6pm, then bathed and put to bed. It was more like 7 or 7.30 for lights out for us. And yes, we stopped naps pretty early.

 

As they are able to stay up later (without a nap) then they merge into family supper.

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Children are fed 'tea' or 'high tea' at 5 or 6pm, then bathed and put to bed. It was more like 7 or 7.30 for lights out for us. And yes, we stopped naps pretty early.

 

I really appreciated the kids getting naptime in the afternoon (they woke up in a good humor) - sometimes I napped with them....

 

How do the young ones get to see their dad then?

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What about time use and weekly schedules.....

 

Here in CH at least....and probably also in France....kids have Wed afternoon off. This makes a wonderful break for the week.

 

You know that you have two full days of work but then at least Wed afternoon to do errands, invite children, doctor's appts, etc....It gives the week a rhythm that helps it stay 'sane' and we follow it for homeschooling as well as there are art and sports classes in that time and since school children have off, it is a time to see them as well...

 

One math prof here who did a year at a US college said that the schedule there was crazy. He said there was a lot happening but his wife never saw him as he'd work late....They came back.

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really appreciated the kids getting naptime in the afternoon (they woke up in a good humor) - sometimes I napped with them....

 

How do the young ones get to see their dad then?

 

Joan

 

And will be home to put children to bed.

 

However, many people in Britain eat immediately on returning from work, and their evening meal is also called 'tea'. In that case the whole family will eat early and together.

 

The divide is, very roughly and crudely, a class one: middle class tend to have children's tea then parents' supper; working class have everyone having tea together as the main evening meal. There are also regional variations, and of course dual income households may not be able to give children tea early.

 

I suspect, as the PP mentioned, it comes from the middle class aping the upper class, who would have exiled their children to nursery tea with Nanny, after which the children would have come to say good night to their parents before the latter had supper. At that point, the nanny would have tidied up and been off duty (barring nightmares).

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was more like 7 or 7.30 for lights out for us.

 

This completely would not work for me because the time of sunset for months out of the year is way, way past 7 pm. It still is broad daylight then, and no one could possibly sleep. Winter is soooo much easier. ;)

 

Those sorts of separate bedtimes and separate meals almost require a large house, a separate space for kids, and staff members or a large family. I certainly can't pull it off, and ditto about foregoing the nap. However, my husband's family members (and seemingly everyone else) rather unceremoniously all do go to bed at the same time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This completely would not work for me because the time of sunset for months out of the year is way, way past 7 pm. It still is broad daylight then, and no one could possibly sleep. Winter is soooo much easier. ;)

 

At midsummer, the sky is never quite dark here - we are a long way north, on a latitude with Moscow. But we have very serious curtains.

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First breakfast is at home before school/work. Toast/rolls with jam/honey. nutella. Nowadays also cereal (did not have that when I grew up)

2nd breakfast is at school/work: whatever you packed. Typically bread with cheese/wurst, apple or carrots, yoghurt.

 

Ah - I just always bought a Laugenbrezel at Pause (YUM!) - didn't realize that was a meal, just thought of it as a midmorning snack. :)

 

No, warm midday meal is still the norm. Younger kids get out of school before noon and go home to eat; if they heve to go to after care, they have the opportunity to eat a warm meal at school, as do older students with longer school days. Many adults have the opportunity to eat warm meal at work in the cafeteria- at all larger companies, institutes, university, hospital...

All my friends and family in Germany still eat cold meals for evening meal: bread and chees, maybe salad. Unles they ahve leftovers to warm up, or pizza. Cooking at night is something special you might do for company.

 

That's comforting somehow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess we have to be careful....no one is saying we have to do it their way. Though we might mentally try on the habit to see if it fits. :) It's always hard to verbalize all the variables going on... If all the other littles are in bed, maybe there will be less squeals outside for example...When the society around is doing it in the same way, things can be easier.

 

Cooking at night is something special you might do for company.

 

This reminded me of misunderstandings with people who always do their main meal at lunch...When I was inviting a couple who follows that routine (but I didn't realize it) for a meal, they presumed it was at midday! Thankfully there was some clue I caught so we could discuss actual time - it would have been embarrassing having them show up when we were eating leftovers.:)

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We did it too when the children were small because Husband got home so late from work. Children are fed 'tea' or 'high tea' at 5 or 6pm, then bathed and put to bed. It was more like 7 or 7.30 for lights out for us. And yes, we stopped naps pretty early.

As they are able to stay up later (without a nap) then they merge into family supper.

 

Same here. When my kids were little, they needed to eat between 5 and 6pm because they were tired and hungry and were put to bed shortly thereafter. (In the US, this would be considered a normal dinner time for grownups - in Germany, it definitely is not; a very early dinner would be 6:30, but more typically between 7 and 8pm.)

 

Those sorts of separate bedtimes and separate meals almost require a large house, a separate space for kids, and staff members or a large family.

 

No. We lived in a 750 sq ft 2 bedroom apartment with two kids. They shared a bedroom. Very typical living arrangement in Germany; most people do not own a house.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those sorts of separate bedtimes and separate meals almost require a large house, a separate space for kids, and staff members or a large family. I certainly can't pull it off, and ditto about foregoing the nap. However, my husband's family members (and seemingly everyone else) rather unceremoniously all do go to bed at the same time.

 

When my boys were small we lived in tiny Hong Kong apartments. They ate tea in the kitchen, then were put to bed. Once they were in bed (they sometimes had a room each, sometimes they shared) the adults made supper (or warmed up the same dish the children had eaten) and ate. Even in a small apartment, there was enough separation between kitchen and bedrooms for the boys to go to sleep while the adults were still active.

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When my boys were small we lived in tiny Hong Kong apartments. They ate tea in the kitchen, then were put to bed. Once they were in bed (they sometimes had a room each, sometimes they shared) the adults made supper (or warmed up the same dish the children had eaten) and ate. Even in a small apartment, there was enough separation between kitchen and bedrooms for the boys to go to sleep while the adults were still active.

 

Laura

I am glad for your sake! Some people are like that, or can sleep anywhere. My kids are not. And it wouldn't work for us, for many reasons, nor is this my or my husband's cultural practices.

 

My kids' neighborhood playmates are almost all bicultural, plus two immigrant families of one cultural background, reflecting a total of about nine different cultures, so no hope of homogeneity of childrearing on my street, much less in my house.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

My kids' neighborhood playmates are almost all bicultural, plus two immigrant families of one cultural background, reflecting a total of about nine different cultures, so no hope of homogeneity of childrearing on my street, much less in my house.

 

All their Chinese friends in the neighbourhood went to cram schools in the evenings and at weekends, so the only time they were free to play was after 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Yes, really, only at those times. So we adjusted our schedules.

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All their Chinese friends in the neighbourhood went to cram schools in the evenings and at weekends, so the only time they were free to play was after 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Yes, really, only at those times. So we adjusted our schedules.

 

 

That's hilarious!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought my MIL was trying to kill me or make me very fat. :tongue_smilie:

 

Our interpretation of cultural differences can be very misleading, can't it?

 

so the only time they were free to play was after 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Yes, really, only at those times. So we adjusted our schedules.

 

Here school typically ends at 4pm which is snack time (this is changing as more kids eat at school....and can be affected by city vs rural etc...before almost everyone had a 2 hour lunch break). Then it would be time to do homework. Altogether this did not allow much time for kids to 'play' after school....Instead they would do lunch time visits or Wed afternoons....and weekends were more for family outings, etc...It made it more difficult for homeschooling, to have friends if you didn't go to school...

 

When I was in Beijing and Hong Kong, it was the typical big city culture and you have to bargain if you buy from a stall. Prices are typically inflated to account for bargaining.

 

Recently dh was in Beijing and the price that he ended up getting with bargaining was less than half the ticketed price! I think closer to 1/3! He said that he got better at it as the days went by.....that he'd lost his bargaining skills due to unuse...

 

Here I can only bargain in some used clothes shops :).

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always been annoyed by anglophones who shout "I'm home!" when they open the front door.

It's just not done in my area... First come in, and see if you're disturbing anything. Then quietly announce that you're home.

 

I've seen many other families who just loudly shout they're home, and then realise they've cut some important guest mid sentence.

 

This is valid for any type of entrance, not just going home. When joining a group, they will loudly say "Hi everyone", even though someone is retelling a tale and is getting to the punch line. They don't seem to care about the interruption. I was brought up that you quietly approach a group, sit with them, nod or whisper a few hellos, and wait to be generally acknowledged. Politeness requires acknowledgment from the group at the first appropriate lull in conversation. If I approach an English-speaking group in this way, they will never acknowledge me, and will consider that I'm inapproprietly eavesdropping on them. They think I'm rude, while I think they're rude! :001_huh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a native English speaker, as is my mother, and we both struggle with getting people to notice us when we join a group of fellow English speakers. I think you're on to something -- make some noise and demand attention! This is a fantastic observation.

 

No one I know shouts "I'm home!" -- my house is small enough that it's obvious -- but maybe that shout is to alert someone who is up to something to stop it before being discovered.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No one I know shouts "I'm home!" -- my house is small enough that it's obvious -- but maybe that shout is to alert someone who is up to something to stop it before being discovered.

 

It may very well be regional. Where I live, we have two main groups, the Francophones and Anglophones. Yes, we speak either French or English (or both) but we are not representatives of everyone speaking French or English.

Still, even though we live side by side, and have been for 300 years, the rules are still different.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It may very well be regional. Where I live, we have two main groups, the Francophones and Anglophones. Yes, we speak either French or English (or both) but we are not representatives of everyone speaking French or English.

Still, even though we live side by side, and have been for 300 years, the rules are still different.

 

I am familiar with Quebec. ;) I was making a joke about screaming "I am home," not suggesting that you don't know what you're talking about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My mother used to blow a loud police whistle out the back door to call us to come in--but I was raised by feral scientists in the wilds of Yellowstone Park, so I don't think you could generalize that as a regional thing. None of the neighbors' mothers did it that I recall (but it was a small govt. employee housing area in the park, and the neighbors were from all over the country and everyone kind of did their own thing in their own way).

 

One thing I ran up against was that in the western U.S. it seems generally considered polite for a guest to offer assistance with meal preparation and set-up. ("Is there anything I can help with?" or "May I help set the table?" or whatever.) In the South, where I went to college, people looked at me oddly when I did that. After a while it dawned on me that none of the other guests ever made such an offer, and that I was expected to just sit and chat while the hostess finished her preparations, no matter how harried she looked. Offers of help made the hostesses feel like I thought they were incompetent or taking too long. :blush:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is valid for any type of entrance, not just going home. When joining a group, they will loudly say "Hi everyone", even though someone is retelling a tale and is getting to the punch line. They don't seem to care about the interruption. I was brought up that you quietly approach a group, sit with them, nod or whisper a few hellos, and wait to be generally acknowledged. Politeness requires acknowledgment from the group at the first appropriate lull in conversation. If I approach an English-speaking group in this way, they will never acknowledge me, and will consider that I'm inapproprietly eavesdropping on them. They think I'm rude, while I think they're rude! :001_huh:

 

This is an extremely useful observation!

 

There were times when I would get vibes but just couldn't figured out what I had done wrong.

 

Offers of help made the hostesses feel like I thought they were incompetent or taking too long. :blush:

 

Another helpful observation! I grew up in an area where you offered to help and it could be taken as rude not to...

 

Yard manners in Switzerland:)

 

Here we have the 'hedge' police...You are supposed to have your hedge (street side) properly trimmed by July 15th or you can get a fine.

 

(Suburbs here are completely different. Yards tend to have hedges around them for privacy.)

 

Years ago we had some neighbors looking along the street next to our hedge and saying loudly "these lazy people". I, in fact, couldn't see anything amiss or messy....Later we got complaints from our neighbors that 'our' leaves were on 'their' driveway...We didn't know what to think, esp since there are other neighbors with leaves that blow there too. Then one night we heard this shoveling sound...metal scraping asphalt....We saw the next day that one of the neighbors had shoveled our leaves over the hedge into our yard.:001_huh: OK, now we've learned and sweep them off. :001_smile:

 

But then they wanted us to get our leaves off their roof! and they had a tree that was also putting leaves on their roof. It turned out to be a weed tree that he hadn't realized was on his property.

 

Then there was the moss growing on their driveway due to the shade created by our trees.:001_smile: We had to get that off with bleach....

 

Now we're used to these things but it took us awhile to realize all our responsibilities....

Joan

Edited by Joan in Geneva
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just remembered another one that was hard to get over....

 

Gift receiving in Europe vs the Orient....

 

When we lived in SE Asia, if someone brought a wrapped gift, it was considered very rude to open it while the person was there....I think this was to avoid any embarrassment for the giver...if you didn't like the gift or something...(don't know if that is for all countries there or not)

 

Then here in Geneva, I remember getting gifts when the children were babies (yes a long time ago) and my inclination to wait to open it was so automatic that many times I didn't even think of opening it...the guest would be waiting to see me be happy about what they brought.:blush: It took years to get over that...

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an extremely useful observation!

 

There were times when I would get vibes but just couldn't figured out what I had done wrong.

 

 

 

Another helpful observation! I grew up in an area where you offered to help and it could be taken as rude not to...

 

...

 

 

It was rather eye-opening for me at the time. I have since found it interesting how many times two people can experience the exact same events or actions completely differently solely because they interpret the same words or actions or whatever in different ways.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When we lived in SE Asia, if someone brought a wrapped gift, it was considered very rude to open it while the person was there....I think this was to avoid any embarrassment for the giver...if you didn't like the gift or something...(don't know if that is for all countries there or not)

 

It is also to avoid gift comparison among the givers. In a housewarming party, wedding party or birthday party, not all the guest would be able to give a gift that cost about the same amount of money. So to prevent any guest from feeling bad about not being able to afford a grander gift, presents are usually opened after guests has departed.

 

ETA: your hubby would have to bargain a lot more in Thailand, Indonesia and India. My mum used to joke the bargaining is almost like a competitive sport.

Edited by Arcadia
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was just thinking today about how disorganized our eating habits have become (I live in WA state). My kids and I snack too much, and I wished we had a more structured eating schedule.

 

I loved reading this thread. In Jordan where I was born and have lived many years, lunch is the main meal that is hot, has meat, rices, sides, and is served around 1:30-2:00pm. Usually tea or coffee is had around 4:00 and a lighter dinner around 7pm (similar to the sandwiches mentioned in the european homes).

 

That means you need to get your heavy cooking in the morning vs. here in the US I normally get dinner started in the afternoon.

 

One big thing for me is in the respect shown to elders. Over there you ALWAYS address anyone older than you (well, not by 5 years .. more like 20) with a title before their name. I was shocked to hear little kids here calling adults by their first names. I could never do that! I know in the South (of the US) there is a lot more usage of Mr. and Mrs. or Miss when addressing adults.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

One big thing for me is in the respect shown to elders. Over there you ALWAYS address anyone older than you (well, not by 5 years .. more like 20) with a title before their name. I was shocked to hear little kids here calling adults by their first names. I could never do that! I know in the South (of the US) there is a lot more usage of Mr. and Mrs. or Miss when addressing adults.

 

You would never address an uncle as 'Nick' or even 'Uncle Nick'. It would always be 'Uncle'. There are specific words for each kind of relationship, which reduces confusion. You would actually be saying 'Mother's Brother' rather than our more vague 'Uncle'.

 

Other adults are addressed as 'Ayi' or 'Shushu', which are words for 'Aunt' and 'Uncle'. This is very strictly enforced: very small children are encouraged to say the words as soon as they meet an adult.

 

Chinese naming conventions are also quite different. If someone is called Wang Jianzhong, then Wang is the family name. At school, or in formal situations, he will be Wang Jianzhong, or Mr Wang or engineer/manager/nurse Wang. The unadorned personal name is not often used. I was told that couples might use it, that it is quite intimate to use it on its own. I might be wrong on that.

 

Within the family he will go by 'Didi' or 'Gege' depending on whether he is an older or younger brother. If he's an only child, he might go by 'Xiaozhong' (little Zhong'). Outside the family, amongst colleagues when he grows up, he is likely to go by 'XiaoWang' (small/young Wang) or LaoWang (old/revered Wang) depending on his status in the group. Amongst friends, the same kind of nicknaming goes on, but nicknames can be quite different from legal names. A friend of mine got married, and only at that point did some of her friends learn her real name: it wasn't a secret, but she had been nicknamed 'Happy' for so many years that many people didn't know her real name.

 

Laura

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have since found it interesting how many times two people can experience the exact same events or actions completely differently solely because they interpret the same words or actions or whatever in different ways.

 

This is SO true - even in the same culture; it even happens in the same house - ours for example:001_smile:

 

It is also to avoid gift comparison among the givers. In a housewarming party, wedding party or birthday party, not all the guest would be able to give a gift that cost about the same amount of money. So to prevent any guest from feeling bad about not being able to afford a grander gift, presents are usually opened after guests has departed.

 

 

That is quite thoughtful actually...

 

ETA: your hubby would have to bargain a lot more in Thailand, Indonesia and India. My mum used to joke the bargaining is almost like a competitive sport.

 

Funny. I have to say that my 'efficient' self did not enjoy bargaining....It can take so much time. Yet I think there are some cultures where the shopkeepers really enjoy it - it's their social interaction or something...

 

I was just thinking today about how disorganized our eating habits have become (I live in WA state). My kids and I snack too much, and I wished we had a more structured eating schedule.

 

That means you need to get your heavy cooking in the morning vs. here in the US I normally get dinner started in the afternoon.

 

This past summer my children wanted to be 'more' Swiss and eat their main meal at lunch and even did the cooking many times for it....But then with the school schedule and ds3 coming back in the evening, it became less practical. Still, for health reasons, I much prefer the main meal at lunch...

 

I've been thinking of trying to do it using the crockpot overnight so I wouldn't be cooking during 'school' time...

 

In China, names of relationship are always used

 

I hadn't realized it was so precise there....I couldn't understand Chinese well-enough to know what kids were saying to their parents..

 

Here I'm still confused with the 'vous' and 'tu', knowing who can propose the change for example. I've tended to wait for the other person to propose it since I'm a foreigner. Then a friend who's my age, let a 'tu' slip into our conversation once...was I supposed to pick up on that as a hint to propose it? I'd let 'tu' slip in before truly by accident but she hadn't proposed it...

 

Then we have elderly friends who asked me why I didn't call them by their first names - so I started - but they still wanted to be 'vouvoyer' ed...

 

Children on the street here who have been raised with manners will always say 'bonjour' when passing adults...But I've noticed that if I pass a person older than me, I need to add 'Monsieur or Madame or M'sieur-dame' (if there is a man and woman) to the 'bonjour'...

 

To make this a thread a bit related to 'education' in the English sense (since in the French sense it can mean moral upbringing) we could discuss levels of language in French (registres de langue) familier, courant et soutenu...:) though if my memory is correct we did discuss it a long time ago at least partly in another thread...

 

Calendar misconceptions...

 

Our recent mishap was when a young German woman told us she could come to dinner on Wednesday next week. She told us this on Sunday.

 

We thought she meant Wednesday next week, ie after the following Sunday.

 

But three days later (on that first Wed) she asked us what time she should arrive that evening!

 

We're so used to the American calendar where Sunday is the first day of the week that we were completely unconscious of her Sunday being the last day of that past week and Monday being the first day of the week, meaning that she meant the coming Wed. It actually took us awhile to figure out what we had misunderstood the American calendar is so ingrained in our brain.

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Belgians made fun of Dutch because we offer at coffeedrinking each, one cookie and close then the cookiebox (then opening it with the next round, so the cookies stay fresh).

In Belgium that is not done ;)

you make a plate with a diversity of cookies (and chocolate!) and that will be at the table all the time during the visit. You are allowed to take as many cookies as you want, in the Netherlands you wait until being served.

 

Another 'not done' thing is the place where you serve the coffee.

In the Netherlands you serve coffee in the livingroom, in Belgium at the kitchentable.

 

A last one:

when you are invited for the coffee in the Netherlands, they expect you at 10.00 (in the morning) or at 20.00 (in the evening), in the afternoon (15.00) you will be invited for 'tea'. Of course you can get tea at 10 en coffee at 15.00 but the word coffee or tea is implicating the time, and of course we think everybody knows that ;).

In Belgium you drink tea if you have to, as medicin. (or when you are a foreigner :lol:)

 

 

I had to laugh when reading this. It brings back memories and all is so very true!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...