Culture Shock

How tall are you in meters? If the temperature is going to be 18 Celsius, should you bring a jacket? Is gas a good price if it is 1.50 euros per liter? To me, these questions represent culture shock. We have been here 2  1/2 years now, and I realize that, besides learning two new languages, I have learned how to live all over again.  Questions that I have known the answer to for a decade (like my height) suddenly have new answers in a different country. to function each day, we either memorize the new system or keep a converter app handy. Let’s see how well you would do with these questions on your first week in Portugal. (Answers are below.)

1. We live on the 4th floor of an apartment. What floor is that really?

2. Our oven is in Celsius. If my American recipe tells me to bake something at 350F, at what temperature should I set my oven?

3. I have an American curling iron. If I use an adapter, can I safely use it in Portugal?

4. The doctor asks you for your height in meters and your weight in kg. What do you say?

5. If you are a healthy adult,  what should your body temperature be in Celsius?

6. What number is this? 7

7. What number is this? 3.000

8. A fast food meal costs 5,50 euros. What is the price in dollars?

9. The door has a sign on it that says, “puxe”. What should you do?

10. You are ending a phone conversation. How many different ways should you and the other person say “good-bye” before you hang up?

11. Say the names of these letters in English. “A, E”. What letters did you just name in Portuguese?

12. It is 3:45 PM. How do you write that in Portugal?

13. If a Portuguese baby’s  birthday is 10/4/12, when was he born?

14. A Portuguese family invites you to supper at 8:00 at their house. What time should you arrive, and what time will you start eating?

15. I am speaking to a stranger or someone to whom I want to show respect. How should I address her?

16. I am a woman being introduced to a Portuguese woman. Do I shake her hand?

Would you like your answers now? Here they are!

1. Portuguese people call the first floor the 0 floor, so the second floor becomes the 1st floor, the third floor is the 2nd, etc. Our 4th floor apartment is really on the fifth floor.
2. About 180. (176.66666667 to be exact.)
3. Only if it has dual voltage. If it doesn’t, the curling iron itself will melt. (Yes, it has happened to a guest in our house.)
4. If you are 5’10”, you are 1.778 meters tall. If you weigh 170 pounds, you weigh 77.111 kg. (I LOVE stepping on the scale I kg. Who doesn’t want to weigh double digits?)
5. 37 (98.6 in F)
6. One. They write their seven with a horizontal line through it.
7. Three thousand. They put a period where we write a comma.
8. First of all, 5,50 euros is like 5.50 euros. They use a comma where we write a period. Based on today’s exchange rate (which is always changing a bit), the price would be $7.17.
9. “Puxe” is pronounced “push”, but it means “pull”. Haha. (That one still gets me sometimes.)
10. Generally, to be polite, each person says good-bye 3 or 4 ways. It is generally a hurried string of “Well then, kisses to all your family, good-bye, excuse me, excuse me, good-bye, good afternoon.” Click. I have been saying good-bye’s that whole time too, and after two more checks of the receiver to make sure noone is still bidding me farewell, I feel it is safe to hang up.
11. “A” is “E” here, and “E” is “I” here.
12. 15h45. Yes, military time with an “h” in place of the colon.
13. April 10, 2012. (DD/MM/YY)
14. If you arrive before 7:50, they look surprised. Eating at 8:00 means more of get there around 8:00 and eat around 8:45-ish (for most people).
15. Address her on the third person. In other words, I would not refer to her as “you”, but as “the madam” or I would use her name. So, when I am speaking to Maria de Fátima, I would ask her, “How is the Maria de Fátima today?” She would reply, “I am fine. Thank you. And you?”
16. Nope! This is a culture of kisses on the cheeks. You give one kiss on each cheek (or touch cheeks and make a kissing sound in the air) when you greet someone. Women give kisses to women. Men give kisses to women. But men do not give kisses to men. They may do a handshake instead.

So . . . How did you do on your cultural quiz?
0-4 correct — You are just like I was when I first arrived. There is still hope for you.
5-8 correct — You have broader world knowledge than most, or you are a very good guesser.
9-12 correct — Way to go! You should be a missionary.
13-16 correct — You must be Portuguese.

2 thoughts on “Culture Shock”

  1. Well, according to the U.S. schools’ grading system, I guess that I’d come in at about an *F- [?] *But that was fun. Yes, you as missionaries surely face a *lot* of challenges and we need to keep you in our prayers, for this and many reasons.

    I appreciate your nes letters a lot.

    Spring finally made it to Minnesota …. We’ve actually had 4 days in a row where we’ve reached the mid-70’s. Everyone was more than ready…what with such a long long winter. It will be down into the 40’s for the latter part of the week, but with some rain, that will be O.K., too. The ground is thirsty, but all the snow surely helped a lot.

    God bless you ~ all three!

    Love & prayers, Donna

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