Cultural Perspectives – Part 1


With a six hour time difference between us, my mom and I have become daily pen-pals.

By my mid-day we are in full swing chatting about our various and vast experiences. We never had much opportunity like this in the past because I was either at work all day or on a ship. This has proven to be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with my mother. Sometimes a different time-zone can bring people closer together.

It just so happens that right now things are a bit quiet for my mom. This is the time of year for the majority of expats to retreat to their native country. I am also officially on summer vacation and will be rendezvousing soon with my husband on the ship during peak season for him.

Anyway, my mom and I decided to co-write a few blog posts on some of our experiences.
Here is the first part of a series written by my mom,

Cultural Perspectives – Part I

This post comes to you as a joint effort with my daughter Leah.

Unlike other members of our small Canadian family, Leah and I are morning people. The first ray of light comes to my new day with our early morning chats online; which often is an exchange of our separate experiences living as expats in two totally different countries thousands of miles from each other.

Leah inherited my gypsy ways. We both love to experience the world around us and both have travelled extensively and lived as expats in various places. Currently, I live on the Caribbean Island of Nevis in the West Indies, while Leah lives in Genoa, Italy.

My daughter has the unique ability to pick up different languages whereas I steer toward English speaking places. However, I found early in my travels that dialects are almost as difficult and through this experience in the Caribbean I have been forced to learn something for which, unlike my daughter, I have absolutely no talent. Perhaps a mental block but I do get by.

A more valuable experience for me has been learning much about myself – my biases and pre-conceived ideas about others – a trait I was not aware of nor am I proud to admit it. Just another of life’s lessons!

Our conversations for the past several days have revolved around women of the world. Our intention is to share some of our experiences with you and hopefully this joint post will be objective and informative.

Our morning chats include an exchange of opinions which takes into account economical, religious and political factors. It is not our intention to inflict this on our ‘wiser than us’ readers but one must consider them no less because they do factor in but you can form your own opinions.

I will lead off with my first awareness of cultural differences.

In the early 90’s, I took an extensive trip with my late husband to Greece. I am not your typical tourist. Rather than trip around in unbearable heat seeing the sights, I would rather wait for the video. I am however a people watcher and would be content to hang out at an airport for an entire day observing. What better place to experience different races in one place than from the comfort of a bar stool positioned ringside?

Greece is beautiful – a total culture shock! I could not help noticing from the get go that Greek women are very beautiful BUT they never smile, don’t look happy and do head stands when they see blonde hair. Now I am blonde but not a natural. While this may be getting off topic, let me explain.

In my working days in Toronto I was a natural brunette and not ugly but I had two very dear friends who were stunning blondes who drew men like bees to honey. That was our game in those days and I hung with them to get the leftovers, or so I believed until one day a very handsome man bee-lined for me instead of them. He was one of the very few men who did not prefer blondes but I had far too many years with my pals to know that they did have more fun, or so it seemed. Needless to say, I became a blonde and remain as such now although I suspect my hair is grayer than I am willing to accept.

In the Caribbean, I see many women who envy my hair. They are black and beautiful and no more need to be blonde than I did way back then but the point to be made here is some of us buy into the nonsense. In a culture that is dominated by beautiful dark people, I do stand out but am I having more fun – definitely not.

So what’s the point of this digression – Greek women were turning blonde and it looked utterly ridiculous but they glowed like peacocks when they passed by the marina, dripping authentic jewels, on the arm of a Greek tycoon on their way to a gala on board a luxury yacht docked nearby. They still didn’t smile unless gloating is their way of showing ‘happy’ or maybe it was the arm they were hanging onto or the prospects on-board. Doesn’t matter, I was dripping with envy.

It was toward the end of our trip that we visited Delphi and it was here I came to understand many things and in particular why women didn’t smile. The experience was food for thought that I have carried with me all these years. A window into cultures I knew nothing about in spite of my years of study. No text book can give what a life experience can.

About lmarmstrong66

I'm a blogger, painter, writer, singer. For the love of all things in nature and creativity.
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2 Responses to Cultural Perspectives – Part 1

  1. katecrimmins says:

    Now I want to hear about Delphi! I visited Greece (in the 1970s) and found the same thing. I was in some of the more remote towns and found the men in cafes in the afternoon and the women working in factories (and wearing black clothes in that unbearable heat!). Definitely a cultural shock for this hippie!

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