I know I have talked about how one must learn a culture or subculture before actually fitting in and making friends before, but this week I was kindly reminded of how it is so much easier to decode social expectations when meeting people from one’s own culture. I thought it would be great to touch on the topic again.
I was at a playgroup early this week where a mom who I have never met before came with her son to check our moms club out. Her looks made me think she was Latin American, which I immediately confirm when she told me her name in that accent that only us who speak Spanish as a native tongue have.
I waited for an opportunity to speak to her in Spanish and when we started conversing we promptly felt the connection that you feel back in our countries when you run into a mom at a park and you immediately introduce yourself and start talking. After no longer than 5 minutes we had exchanged phone numbers and by the end of our playgroup we had already agreed on doing something together that same week.
This may seem a little odd or even too aggressive to our host culture in which you have to see each other at least a couple of times before getting more personal, but the thing is that her and I, having grown up in Latin American countries, knew that we could skip the formalities and go straight to getting to know each other at a more personal level. What better than to do this in our native language and culture too!
I am not saying that we are going to be best friends the first time we hang out together, I’m just saying that it is easier to decode social expectations when dealing with people from your own culture. That to me is a nice break from the usual situation where I have to learn when it’s OK to be a social butterfly and when it’s better to wait before inviting someone for coffee at your house.