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Ya know what I miss?

*****hin hint hint***** – look at title of this post.

Yes…that’s right…I miss the occasional:

Just every once in a while – I’d like to hug one of my friends here. But they don’t do it! It’s always a kiss on the cheek and a little touch on the shoulder or just a handshake between guys.

I have mixed feelings about this, because you also do the whole cheek-kiss thing when you first meet someone, and I really like that. It’s very personal and an immediate ice breaker – an immediate connection. However there’s the whole “how many times do you do it” question which is, by no means, a little question with an easy answer…

Spain & Italy: 2

Netherlands: 3

France: 1, 2, 3, OR 4 depending on location

Belgium: 3

Germany: air-kissing is restricted to family or very close friends. Handshakes are dominant.

I also have some friends from Turkey and they also do 2.

So whenever you meet someone, you not only have to remember their name, what they look like, and try to remember what they study, but you also get to remember where they’re from, what part of that country they’re from, and how many air-kisses are customary. This proves to be EXTREMELY difficult, let me tell you.

So the moment you forget and default to just 1 air-kiss (as many people here in Belgium do, because I mean…lets face it, 3 is overkill) you get stuck with the other person expecting another one and you’re standing there looking at their face turned to the side. Then you get to do the whole “oh hahaha sorry! Let’s finish that!” kind of thing and try to fix the faux pas.

Many people just say that you should look at what other people are doing and guess from that. Well there are a couple of issues with that:

1) There are about 1,000 international students at this university representing no telling how many countries with no telling how many customs on air-kisses. My program is taught in English, so we’ve got students from literally all over the world…makes it VERY confusing.

2) Most Belgians default to 1 kiss (traditional is 3, remember) with friends or people of their own age (USUALLY). So if you’re the new one in a group, you’ll notice everyone else just doing 1 air-kiss, but apparently you’re expected to do 3…sometimes… So yeah, I’ve had multiple awkward encounters on this point alone.

So…my advice? I guess…just do some research! Make sure you know where you’re going and what the custom is in that area. When in doubt, just ask your friends what they think you should do; they’ll know…probably! But you should also just prepare yourself for some awkwardness: prepare your awkward laugh, get ready to swoop in with a witty phrase and finish off as many air-kisses as they apparently see fit…

But back to the point – no one hugs here. When some friends and I went to Paris last weekend, we met up with some other Americans there and, of course, we all hugged each other! One of the girls actually yelled a little like “Ah! Americans who hug!”.

So I have to admit, I don’t really know where I stand on the matter. I miss the big bear hugs that my friends and I gave. I mean, even me and my guy friends shook hands then usually immediately hugged. It was just a nice form of greeting for friends. But on the other hand, I also like the air-kisses…it’s cute and I like how you do it even with someone you’ve just met, because usually you don’t hug someone in America that you’ve just met – possibly when you leave…but not when you first met them, unless you’ve heard so much about them you give them a hug while saying “HEY! Give me a hug! ohhh – I’ve heard so much about you I feel like we’re old friends!” You-know-what-I’m-talkin’-about, Americans!

So this is how I think this can all be solved and make me happy:

1) Everyone needs to just default to 2 kisses – one on each cheek (right then left). Then once you know someone well, you just do 1.

2) A small hug should follow the air-kisses with head on [their] left side (where you ended with the 2nd kiss), longer if you’re closer friends and feel that a longer hug is in order.

3) When leaving, give one air-kiss on right cheek and small hug or long hug, whichever works best for the situation (ie – how close you are; how long it will be until the next time you see them, etc.)

So thereyago! PROBLEM SOLVED.

Now who’s gonna start a world-wide cultural revolution on appropriate greetings with me?! ;D


*air-kiss* *long hug*

– Ross

1 Comment

  • Comment by Mom — October 14, 2010 @ 07:54

    I couldn’t agree more. With our neighbors, I have resorted to taking the lead with one kiss followed quickly by a hug before they get away or turn the other cheek! They’re catching on :)

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