Tag Archives: Culture shock

Life is to traveling as traveling is to life

15 Jun

Someone told me this and it stuck in my head: “when you travel, it wakes up your instincts…and from that, you learn.”

I thought, “then wouldn’t LIFE itself be just like traveling? Traveling through the minutes with new situations hitting you constantly and waking up our instincts? And every time, no matter what, we just have to keep on going?? Wait……………….keep on going EVEN if the situation sucks?”

Totally hott dude with dog companion on beach

Can’t my travel through life be a trip to the Bahamas with an all-inclusive hotel where I meet this totally hott dude running with his dog companion on the beach?

I can tell you that my life/trip in Chile has done way more than give me a cocktail on the beach. It has enraged me at times. My security and patience instincts will never be the same. Getting robbed and waiting for two hours for dinner when you’re starving will do that to you.

But, at the end of the day, I learned.

We are blind when we first start life. We don’t know what the hell is going on. But as we go, our instincts are awoken and we say, “Oh, guess I shouldn’t do that next time. Oooops.”

You learn streets best when you learn them lost. You learn customs best by throwing yourself into the country. Here is a better one: I learned the dirty word for “penis” in Chile when I screamed it at a party trying to offer everyone “pisco”, but accidentally said, pico. Oooops…again.

My fave pico...I mean pisco.

As we all know and have heard from religions, artists, and our dearest parents, “one learns through experience.”

But, we really learn depending on our reaction.

Reactions are difficult when you are robbed. Or lied to. Or cheated on. My reaction to the thirteen year old boy who robbed me was not a reaction I would have given if someone had given me something free. I won’t go into further detail as I am sure it is obvious of my choice of words.

An experience can be an adventure, an affair, an encounter, an ordeal, or a test.

It may be a music festival that lifts your heart and soul through mere words and streaming sounds. Perhaps it was a woman you met who could only speak when her husband allowed her to. Or, it could have been the only person you loved most in this world, tell you that they don’t love you anymore.

Life presents us with things that are marvelous or humbling. Brilliant or depressing. Lovely or scary. Enlightening or embarrassing. We experience humility, confusion, selflessness, anger, loneliness, and pure happiness.

Lets face it. Life can sometimes suck or be stand-on-your-toes-jump-in-the-air-do-a-dance brilliant!

Whatever the experience, I think it is one of the most beautiful concepts in this world. Why?

Because it forces us to go beyond what we think our worth is.

Having said that, next time a big shocker of an experience comes your way on your life trip, remember it happened because life did it. Good or bad, be smart about your reaction and take it as a lesson.

Hopefully by the time I’m 80 I will have learned enough to not accidentally yell “penis” at parties in foreign languages.


Kissing Latin American Style

22 Jan

For the past month, I have tried to “besito” people when I first meet them.  This is a culture effect from Chile and has caused terribly awkward instances.

The process of besito-ing (as my friends and I would call it) consists of kissing the left side of the person’s cheek when you meet them–or just to say hello.  Having said this, you can only imagine people’s reaction when they hold out their hand for a good ol’ American shake, and I am heading directly for their left cheek–lips in perfect besito stance.

Although the awkwardness happens here, it even happened in Chile, too.  Here are a few examples that my friends and I talked about:

  • The “amateur” besito: when an American first encounters this aspect of the Latin American culture.  The reaction is never natural and the possibility of kissing the wrong side (heading for the lips) is highly likely.
  • The “too much” besito: when an American puckers too much and there’s the…yes…unintended pucker noise straight in the person’s ear.
  • The “accidental lip” besito: when the angle of the besito was not far enough to the left, and you have just kissed a stranger.  (I found out later that Chilean guys to this intentionally…sly.)

Let’s face it: Americans are amateurs at besito-ing.  We shake hands.  Does anyone else wish this were different in the United States?

I love the besito.  As incomodo as it can be at first, there is a sense of genuineness behind it.

This goes for their culture in general.  When you enter a room, it is custom  that you greet and kiss everyone in the room (As for a larger amount of people, I would say greet the majority).  For lunch, everyone sits down at once and enjoys each other’s company for three hours with wine, bowls of food, and dessert.  At the end of an all day BBQ (very popular in Chile), you leave by giving everyone a besito.

As for my favorite, before every glass of wine, hands raise and glasses ting to “salud.”  Everyone wishes each other good health.

I think that it is a good idea to try to carry out this affection into our culture.  Perhaps the besito is too much, but greeting everyone in the room individually or remembering to raise a toast isn’t–no matter the occasion.

Let us not be scared of affection.  Naturally, our hearts enjoy this genuineness.