One of the more positive side effects of events such as the Japan earthquake (or the Tunisia/Egypt/Lybia uprisings – yes, that’s still going on too…) is that suddenly the whole world discusses the same topics. Which makes it very easy to compare what people in different countries think, how the media cover certain events, or how governments react. It really teaches you something about cultural differences and similarities!
For example, I think most people here in Europe are amazed by how calm and composed (most of) the people in Japan are dealing with what is going on in their country right now. I doubt it would be the same over here! Although I leave it up to you to decide whether that’s a good or a bad thing… Either way, I enjoy the fact that – despite increasing globalisation – it’s still possible to discover distinguished cultural features in different countries. Otherwise the world would be a pretty boring place, wouldn’t it?
So travelling from one country to another on an almost monthly basis is still quite exciting for me, even though it’s only from the UK to Germany and back. But still, almost every time I discover something new, some sort of striking difference or surprising similarity. For example, if I want to meet up with someone in Germany, I can easily call them a week or two in advance, we’ll set a date, and that’s that – we don’t necessarily need to speak again in the meantime, but both of us will certainly be there, and on time. In England however, people have given me the strangest looks when I tried to get them to arrange something more than three days in advance – and agreeing on an exact time and place 24 hours before you’re supposed to meet? Talk about being a control freak! But whichever side you’re on, I guess it doesn’t really matter – some of us like precision and reliability, while other prefer to be flexible and spontaneous. No problem, I would think, as long as you’re able to come to a compromise. Maybe agree on a date four days in advance and then talk about the details later? Hm?
And speaking of Krauts and Poms, I remember reading a quote in a book years and years ago, which pops into my head whenever I compare these two countries. Obviously I can’t quote it properly now because I forgot which book it was – but hey, other people got much further than me without being able to cite properly… Anyway, it went something like this:
The Germans and the English are similar enough to speak to each other, but different enough to have something to talk about.