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Bridging the Cultural Gap One Trip at a Time

I’ve traveled a fair amount and have especially sought out opportunities to live in other countries to immerse myself and understand the culture The experiences were unforgettable and drive me to live in other places. The more diverse the better. When I learned that I would spend six months in London, I was looking forward to it but not overly excited. I was hoping for a stint in Asia or South America. After all, how different could England really be from America? Are we really that different accent aside?

In short, we are. In my first few weeks, I made friends with locals and another American who clued me in on some very important cultural nuances. I always thought the British are so polite and can deliver bad news with grace and their charming accent. Right? Well, not all the time. Translation needed. My friend clued me in on the secret that the British don’t necessarily say what they mean. This changed perspective and my experience in a very positive way.

I started to pay more attention to what people were saying. I also started to translate what they really meant. It’s quite humorous, quirky and endearing. For example, a Brit may say “I’ll bear that in mind” and I interpret that as the Brit sees it my way and will incorporate the idea into their thinking. What they really mean is that they’ve forgotten it already. My British friends find my enlightenment funny as they know the real meaning. Here’s a handy chart with more quirky nuances.

When I travel, I’m always looking forward to integrate. It’s important to keep an open mind and make an effort to understand the local culture no matter how apparently similar it is to your own. To be effective in business or any scenario you need understand what people really mean. What have you learned through your travels?

Follow me @myersgina

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