The Awkwardness of Greetings

January 12th, 2012 10:52 am

A short antidote:

A month or so ago, a group of friends and I took a road trip from Budapest to Timișoara, Romania for summer adventure. We explored the town, went swimming, ate interesting food and I only managed to have one embarrassing moment, a record of sorts for my normally uncomfortable life. The boyfriend of the woman we were staying with arrived to her apartment on our first morning there. None of the four of us (two women and two men) had met him before and he walked into the room and proceeded to shake the hand of my male friend on my right side and then he stuck out his hand again and without hesitation I reached out and shook it. I’d never met him before and in Canada everyone shakes everyone’s hands, we don’t kiss or hug anyone we meet.

Seeing the shock and strange look on his face I realized he was not extending a greeting to me but to my other male friend on my left. The moment of awkward silence passed and was only brought up later after the boyfriend had left about how funny his reaction to the situtation was. I guess it wasn’t appropriate for me, a woman to shake his hand or introduce myself in that manner.

This is not the first time I’ve messed up European greeting rituals, every time I cross a border while working for WSCF Europe I seem to come across a different tradition. Turning my head the wrong way to kiss people on the cheek has left me kissing one too many people smack on the lips… This, I promise you, is very much so by accident.

I am looking forward to all the discussions we will have at the “Communicating Gender” conference about how gender roles and norms change as one travels across borders and cultures. I am interested in how language and faith communicate gender and communicate to genders.

-Jill Piebiak

As a WSCF Europe staff person, I am looking forward to seeing you all and am excited to hear your vision for the future of WSCF Europe at the European Regional Assembly that will follow. If you have any questions about the event please email and I or someone else will get back to you as soon as possible!

WSCF Europe Communicating Gender Conference
Supported by the Council of Europe

World Student Christian Federation – Europe
Strada della Pozzata 12
38123, Trento, Italy
+39 329 2099274 IBAN: IT85T0503401801000000000417 BIC: BAPPIT21179
Subscribe using RSS


The work of WSCF-Europe is financially supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

This website reflects the views only of the author, and the donors cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.