One of the first cultural differences I experienced overseas was the difference in how guests are treated and welcomed into someone’s home.
In Australia, if someone wants to make you feel really welcome, they say “make yourself at home.” This means you can help yourself to whatever is in their fridge, get your tea/coffees, relax and generally just participate as another member of the family.
|Image source: Unsplash, Annie Spratt
In other countries, to make someone feel super welcome, they treat them like a king. They will give up their own bed for the guests, not let them even get up to get a glass of water themselves, and serve everything on silver platters (figuratively, and sometimes literally)!
If you are used to one way or the other, experiencing the opposite can leave you feeling uncomfortable. For example, I initially tend to feel like everything is too formal and I wonder, “when will I be included so I can relax?” Someone experiencing the Australian style from the guest-is-king culture might think, “wow, they really don’t care about me at all!”
It’s good to be aware of these styles so you know how to be hospitable, what your guests might be feeling, and how to explain the differences in culture so you can move to a place of mutual understanding – and ultimately better enjoyment of each other’s company!