The other day, my girlfriends and I were discussing what eating habits we had acquired from being with our significant others (these three girls are Irish, English and Canadian, with English, Canadian and French men). "He's made me eat more cheese, and he eats more chocolate because of me", type of thing. It was pretty funny to realise how much we all have in common on that front!
It in turn made me think about the differences E and I have when it comes to the little things, because of our different nationalities and backgrounds. Although I consider myself very "Europeanised" due to spending most of my life here, I still have strong roots to where I come from, and sometimes those differences are serious hurdles that you have to work through, and other times they are just funny little things that remind you of the different cultures that we were born into. (Me Japan, E France.)
Here are some of the smaller things I've learnt that set E and I apart*-
Like actual times when you would eat meals. In Japan, people tend to eat on the early side for their meals - lunchtime at midday or half past, dinner at 7, or 7:30 at the latest. At least, this is the case with most Japanese people that I know. E says he was shocked when he first came to England, and found out that people eat dinner earlier than 9pm. For the French, it's lunch at 2 and dinner at 9-10pm. The two of us are early rather than late eaters most of the time, but when we go to France, dinner at 10pm is the absolute norm. I still find it hard to get used to!
2. Greeting people
Everyone knows about the whole kissing hoopla that happens when you meet French people. Is it going to be 1 kiss? Definitely not. 2? Most likely. Sometimes it's 3 though, and that really throws me off the loop. It's really just awkward. Now the Japanese - we go to the other extreme end of the spectrum. We bow when we meet people, and there is absolutely no touching involved. Even hugging between friends is not as common, and that I have always found foreign. I hug the life out of my friends, I hug E if we meet up somewhere - hugging is just a good medium, right?
This is a no-brainer. There is absolutely zero cheese involved in traditional Japanese cooking, and even our western dishes only require a small quantity on occasion. To the French, cheese and wine are like a whole other religion. When I was in France over Christmas, we ate every day with our lovely friends, one of whom was American. She ate everything, and liked everything, but by the 5th day of eating cheese at every single meal she did utter the words, "Wow, more cheese?", and I sympathised big time. I love it, but I came home craving noodles. Asian food will always be my favourite, and French will always be E's. It's a good thing we love each other's favourites, and that we come from real foodie cultures.
Otherwise known at Public Displays of Affection. In Japan, you will probably never see people kissing in public, not even on the cheek. I mean, hugging is already rare - there's no smooching to be seen there! Couples holding hands is pretty much as far as it goes. Even though I was brought up here in England, I still have a bit of that reserve in me, and while E is happy enough to be affectionate in any situation, I am slightly apprehensive of being "lovey dovey", especially in front of close friends rather than strangers, funnily enough. Then again, I don't think I would be happy if he never wanted to show a little affection regardless of where we were, so I'm a bit high maintenance really!
Of course, you don't have to come from different countries to have differences in opinions, habits or traditions - I'd love to hear more stories like these.
*obviously these are generalisations based on my own experiences and our personal differences, I mean no offence to anyone!