When people say that different parts of the world have different “cultures,” it means more than the types of clothing that people wear and the cuisine. Granted, those do play a role in culture, but regions have their own “characters” too. I’m not going to speak for countries nor am I going to pretend I am some sort of expert, but I do try to pay attention to my surroundings. In this post, I want to share some observations.
In the last few years, I have given ample thought to “introverts” and “extroverts” as defined by Jung, Briggs and Myers. Many people, including Susan Cain, author of Quiet, believe that the US is a country where the extroverts can succeed more easily than introverts. Extroverts can be outgoing, alpha, and risk-taking, while introverts like to direct energy to smaller groups and prefer listening to talking. Extroverts recharge their energy socially while introverts recharge their energy alone. (Here is a link to more on this topic:
In the US it is common for strangers to make small-talk. It is also common for people to smile while passing each other on the street. In France, however, it is common for people to not make eye-contact in passing or on public transportation. This is an example of the “character” of regions I mentioned before. It doesn’t mean that people care any less about you or think so little of you as to not smile in passing. It just means that it’s not really a custom in France the way it is in the US. When people bump into each other in passing in the US, they might say “oh, I’m sorry” or “excuse me.” In France, people do the same, but are not offended if someone doesn’t say “pardon” or “excusez-moi.” I think the mutual mentality is that it was not intentional, so people don’t take it personally.
Those were a few observations and thoughts I wanted to share. And I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below.
Next post: food and tourists!