To be fair, it is easy if you do happen to live in a little expat bubble. I call our home ‘The American Sector’, because it is just that – a little bubble of American culture and the English language amid an entire nation auf Deutsch!
I don’t know what I was thinking when I first decided that my family would do this. Perhaps I was simply thinking that we would save money and clean out the cupboards. Well, it turned out to be so much more than that!
First, I became a bit ill after the new year. This meant that for about a week I did not want to eat much or cook for that matter. Then, our projector fan died leaving us with no family television time. This latter point is not all bad. I think I’ve mentioned before that our home is like the ‘American Sector’ from Checkpoint Charlie.
I’m coming out…
Since I am an English teacher here in Germany, much of what I do is discuss intercultural communication. It is a wonderfully interesting topic that I one day would fully enjoy officially learning more about (and obtaining a certification in so as to appease the German culturist in me). This blog post, I feel, is about something we Americans and English speakers take for granted and that I often have to actually be reminded of anymore if I interact with Americans (especially one’s that are not used to German communication styles, as I find myself becoming more ‘German’ all the time in that regard), especially if I am on American soil!
The author makes some very good points with this post, otherwise I would not have reblogged it.
When first-time expatriates arrive in the United States they are often underprepared for the North American way of communicating. This is especially true for Central Europeans who tend to assume that
i) they learned enough about American communication patterns via literature and media consumption, and/or
ii) communication styles are very similar and thus, differences can be neglected. The trouble typically begins when expats do not detect or even ignore the transatlantic gap. Unfortunately, many Americans also lack the communicative fine-tuning to realize that their new colleagues from Germany or Austria share information differently. That’s when intercultural team building efforts can hit a roadblock. However, companies and their employees can prepare for these obstacles.
I compiled what I consider the 9 key aspects of the US-American communication style worth internalizing. You can get them as a FREE white paper over at my company website. Just leave your name and…
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What is it really like returning to our familiar America after living and experiencing life, and needing to find our own familiarity within a different ‘exotic’ place?