Intercultural Misunderstandings with Argentinians - any stories?

nataliasarro

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Hi Expats!

I´d be interested in hearing funny/ embarassing/ shocking stories of intercultural misunderstandings as expats in Argentina.
When you arrive to a new country, things seem easy at the beginning. But at some point, things can go slightly wrong. You have a hard time communicating with locals. Or you say a joke in in a meeting and unexpectedly, locals won´t laught at your joke. Or you have trouble with your boss at workplace and cant figure out why.

Any interesting stories you´d like to share? How did you figure out what the misunderstanding was? ...and how did you manage to solve it?

Your stories will help other expats be prepared for similar situations...

Look forward to your comments!

Natalia =)
 

fifilafiloche

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There is this usual embarassement regarding males kissing males on the cheek when they know one another well. I have no problem with the hug but the kiss is way to...intimate to be agreeable. Usually, i ll just avoid it and while hugging stronger.

I met an argentine teacher from Junin with whom i travelled to Venezuela. Since we sympathised on the net, i wanted to show him my friendship the argentine way, hugging him. He seemed surprised. So the hugging is not necessarily a general rule.

At first the single kiss for females left me like an idiot, expecting the other cheek. I now don t expect to repeat it anymore :)

I stopped waiting for the waiters to be ready to serve me. If it takes more than 5 minutes, i ll just walk out to the next shop. At the gym, don t wait for the attendant to notice that you have been waiting for 5 minutes to get a locker key, she won t. The only solution is to buzz her, even if you think it s impolite.

Last month i went to a pasteleria with 2 estadosunidienses on 9 Julio. We sat on the terrace and i found out people were watching us weird. I realized the guys were drinking their own drinks while waiting for the waiters. I had to explain the that the concept of "Bring Your Own" is not widespread in Argenina, nor in Europe in general.

Last week the neighbour of the house in front was holding her little boy s pleasure toy to help him pee on the pavement, while her sister was watching his thing with curiosity. This scene would shock most europeans, even more us citizens, in the middle of a big town (not such a problem on a beach). I walked through as if i didnt see anything, i found it embarassing. Same with breast feeding a baby in front of people you dont know : it doesnt seem to bother the mother, but i felt embarassed and tried to watch somewhere else.

In Catamarca, while going to a local dancing club, my new friends insisted that i would dance with teenagers, which i found totally inappropriate. They wouldnt understand when i tried to explain them why i felt embarassed by the age difference.

I find it unpleasant to be asked to leave my motorcycle while filling up my tank. This is an evidence of distrust i do not appreciate.

The first time you cross a cashier, you ll be asked if you are "consumidor final" and if you want to pay "en un pago". Answer si to both questions, since your foreign credit card will not accept several debits anyways. Show your ID and tell the cashier to skip letters, as the argentines ID have only numbers.
 

Napoleon

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As my last Argentine girlfriend was dumping me, I realized something and said to her:

Nappy: "So if I had done exactly opposite of everything you told me to do, then I would have done exactly what you wanted me to do."

Ex-novia: "Yes"


I would consider that an "intercultural misunderstanding".
 

malbec

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I don't think that qualifies as a 'cultural misunderstanding', I would call it rather a 'gender misunderstanding'
 

ElQueso

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fifilafiloche said:
Last month i went to a pasteleria with 2 estadosunidienses on 9 Julio. We sat on the terrace and i found out people were watching us weird. I realized the guys were drinking their own drinks while waiting for the waiters. I had to explain the that the concept of "Bring Your Own" is not widespread in Argenina, nor in Europe in general.
I'm surprised - it's not in any place I've ever been in the States either!
 

sergio

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You actually do that in the US - drink coke out of a bottle in a restaurant? Or do you consider McDonald's a restaurant?
 

Napoleon

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arty said:
I got yelled at by my porteno friends for drinking coke out of the bottle at a restaurant.
You should yell at them for not having ICE.

Tell 'em how we do it in the first world!


sergio said:
You actually do that in the US - drink coke out of a bottle in a restaurant? Or do you consider McDonald's a restaurant?
1) McDonald's doesn't sell drinks in bottles in the US.
2) McD's is a restaurant... it's the restaurant with the most locations in the world.
3) People drink what they want out of what they want. They're paying. They can do as they please.
4) There sure as hell isn't a common practice of putting straws that are too short to stick out of the bottle into a bottle so that you have to fish it out with your finger every time you want to "drink a coke with manners". :rolleyes:
 

arty

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sergio said:
You actually do that in the US - drink coke out of a bottle in a restaurant? Or do you consider McDonald's a restaurant?
yeah, if it comes in a bottle, i drink it out of the bottle. i don't see the need to waste a glass on it.


nice thing about american mcdonalds is free refills and as much ketchup as I want. I guess they don't do that here b/c people would never leave.
 

fifilafiloche

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Napoleon said:
They're paying. They can do as they please.
I digress with that cultual assumption. I won t develop arguments here because this is not the topic, but be prepared to many "intercultural misunderstandings" and frustrations if you go travelling with that idea in mind in most places in the world. "Customer is king" is a motto that applies in very few countries, "respect local code of behaviour" is far more widespread. I remember being refused entry to clubs i was willing to visit as a customer in the US too for not respecting their code of conduct/dressing (shorts).
 
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