Monday, April 21, 2008


Greetings have never been my place of expertise, but I'm practicing every day and getting better. The custom here in Switzerland is to give 3 kisses on the cheek to the opposite sex when you greet and say your goodbyes. First off, my apologies to those girls I created awkward moments on. Upon arrival to Switzerland, every person I met was greeted with a hand shake. Hey, it was what I was used to and mostly automatic. The straightforward handshake was working well most of the time until I received some strange responses.

One particular time I put out my hand out for a shake and she just looked at it. She leaned in, so I presumed it was going to be a hug, at the same time she was trying to do three kisses to me. We were tangled in inelegance and I confused the hell out her. It must have looked like a strange African dance and we were stuck in it together.

At first this was very uncomfortable and I didn't know what to do. Another fun moment was when I gave only one kiss on the cheek and pulled away. She was expecting two more, and her head was leaning in waiting. She recognized my decision for one and she smoothly pulled her head back. What seemed like minutes later...I decided to give her the remaining two. Hey, I owed it to her for hanging out there earlier. She had an expression on her face- 'I thought this greeting was finished'. Well, not in my mind, so I lunged in, similar to a fish out of water. She kept me waiting (another minute), then helped me finish this ritual. Talk about a long awkward greeting.

This makes it quite a task if you have to say hi or bye to 10+ people. With different cultures mix together, these mistakes are common. Seeing another American always causes problems, do we hug, shake or 3 kiss? There is really no correct answer, just pick one and dive in. Learning the hard way is sometimes the best way, keeps me updating this blog.

France has much more complex kissing rules, based on region (1-5).
See link for region: French Kiss

1 comment:

Heather said...

Sorry I've fallen a few posts behind lately. This post really made me laugh. I hope you're having fun! I'm SO jealous!