Tag Archives: traveling in europe

Different isn’t wrong, it’s just… different.

Culture shock is a funny thing.

People often think they don’t have it. I don’t have culture shock, I like it here they say. As if “liking” has anyting to do with “shocking”. (Yes, “shocking” is a word I just came up with to shorten for culture shock. And then by explaining it I made it a thousand tiems longer anyway. Humph.)

When I was living in Greece my culture shock came by way of please and thank you.

I was 18 and working as a waitress at a restaurant on Santorini Island. Most of our customers where vacationers from Eurpoe and America and Canada and AUstralia. They wanted english-speaking staff for that reason.

But every once and a while we’d get a day with lots of Greek holiday-goers.

One day in particular I was serving Greek couple after Greek couple after Greek couple.

“Coke!” they would shout at me. “Spaghetti Bolonaise!” they would shout next. “Refill!” And on and on it went.

Never a please. Never a thank you.

maybe I woke up on the wrong side of hte bed that day, but for whatever reason by mid-shift I was ready to break down into tears.

They don’t appreciate me. They’re so rude. They’re condescending and belittling.

They haaaaaaate me.

(Why do they hate me so much?)

And then I realized… it’s cultural.

As an American it’s considered rude to throw out your orders to the server. You request. You use pleasantries. You make eye contact.

But as a Greek these people weren’t being rude in teh slightest.

They were just being Greek. THeir role was to tell me what they wanted. My role was to follow directions adn deliver. End of story.

They didn’t hate me. They weren’t being rude. (Well, most of hte time anyway.)

They were just being Greek. They were different. And different isn’t wrong, it’s just… different.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said htat over the last 15 years, most of whichI’ve lived abroad.

Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.



Q for you: Have you ever experienced culture shock? How did you handle it?



p.s. went over time today!


Click Clink Five is a blog by Adriel Booker. | Five minutes a day, unedited. | 2012 All rights reserved. | Adriel also writes on parenting and motherhood at The Mommyhood Memos.

The gentleman in Vienna

I had always wanted to go to a “real” ballet.

As a kid my mom had taken me to see our local production of the Nutcracker several times over the Christmas holidays. I always loved it.

But going to a real ballet? With professionals in a grand old building?


That, I dreamt of.

When I was in Vienna at eighteen I got my first chance.

I had been travelling for a while and didn’t have much money, but I did have enough to buy a ticket for the standing section in the balcony of the Vienna Opera House to see the Royal Ballet.

Can you imagine? The Vienna Opera House?

It was spectacular.

I dressed in the best outfit I could muster our of my backpack – a black mini-skirt, black tights, chunky ankle boots, and a vintage leather jacket I had bought at a flea market in London. Perhaps for an 18-year-old snowboarder in the mid-90s I looked quite cool, but I’m sure to everyone else I looked ridiculously out-of-place.

I didn’t care; I was so excited.

Entering the Opera House was like magic. It was every bit as spectacular as I imagined it would be.

I took my spot up on the highest (nose-bleed) balcony and not long after, an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked me if I’d like a better seat.

He explained that he and his wife had season tickets and never miss a performance,but she was home ill and her seat was free.

Of course I jumped at the chance and enjoyed the ballet in one of the best seats in the house.

During intermisison he took me around the opera House telling me stories and personal accounts of all that the beautiful old walls had held.

After the show we went across the street with all the other locals to a café where they sipped Vienese coffees and talked about how lovely the performance was.

It was one of my favorite memories from over a year spent in Europe.

I can’t remember the gentleman’s name, or even picture his face anymore, but I’ll never forget how he made me feel – special and valued and… even a little bit cultured.



Q for you: When is the last time you allowed a stranger to make your day?



P.S. I ran out of time but wanted to mention that this “stranger” ended up being a friend of my 4th grade teacher, who at some point had done a teaching exchange in Austria. It’s a small, small world. (And this was before the days of the internet!!)


Click Clink Five is a blog by Adriel Booker. | Five minutes a day, unedited. | 2012 All rights reserved. | Adriel also writes on parenting and motherhood at The Mommyhood Memos.