Last week we discussed the norms different from the ones we are used to, in countries such as Japan, and how it is very difficult to go to a different country and adapt to their culture since they may have norms that are different from the ones here in America. I have never been to another country to experience a completely different culture with different norms, but my best friend is Greek and goes to Greece every summer for over a month. When she comes home she always tells me how difficult it was for her to adjust once she got to Greece, and how hard it is for her to go back to living her normal life in America.
On the first night she got home from Greece this past summer, she picked me up in her car. She was freaking out because she "forgot" how to drive over the summer since she did not drive once while she was in Greece. Most people in Greee walk everywhere or ride their bikes. Its not uncommon to see people walking or biking around here, but they are usually just trying to get some exercise and it is unusual if someone doesn't own a car. So, that first car ride with her was pretty scary, but eventually her driving improved. She told me that in Greece whenever you say hello or goodbye to someone you are expected to kiss them on both cheeks, and its not weird for guys to do this to other guys. In America, if people did that on a daily basis, that would be considered inappropriate and creepy. But in Greece, its just being polite.
Also in Greece, it is expected that everyone, even older people, go out at night to clubs, bars, or restaurants to socialize, and stay out until morning. In America, people do this but not on a daily basis. According to my friend, people would think you were antisocial if you stayed in your house for too many hours during the day. At night it is also unacceptable in Greece to wear casual clothes such as jeans and a tshirt, since everyone there "dresses to impress" and wears their nicest clothes, even out to run errands. It would be awkward if someone showed up to a club wearing a typical American outfit (jeans, a tshirt, tennis shoes, and a baseball cap) and the Greek people would probably wonder why that person is dressed so weird. In America, underage drinking is looked down upon by parents and law enforcements, but in Greece, parents dont hesitate to provide their kids with alcohol and it is common for families to drink together, since drinking is a big part of their culture. My friend also told me that swear words are not as big of a deal in Greece as they are here. In America, if a teacher hears a student sware, the student would probably get into trouble or the teacher would tell him to watch his mouth. In Greece, a teacher wouldn't even flinch if they heard a student use a cus word, and neither would the kid's parents.
Life in Greece seems to be a lot more laid back than life in America, but both cultures have their own specific norms that people learn to follow. I hope that someday I can go to a different country and experience culture shock and discover norms different from the ones that I am used to.