Nieuws - 24 juni 2010

Kissing customs


I am a female PhD student from China. Having lived in Wageningen for nearly eight months, I still cannot get used to the general social custom of kissing. I can say that I like living and studying here, I love the good natural environment, organic foods and friendly Dutch people. But all the kissing...

Around ten days ago it was a workmate's birthday and he brought in some cakes to share his happiness with all the group members at coffee time. I like this kind of celebration: it gives a good chance to talk or share feelings with other people, which can also contribute to building up a harmonious working environment. But before we ate the cake, my supervisor told me that I should give a kiss to the man whose birthday it was. I was a little bit surprised and felt so shy because Chinese people seldom kiss in public. What should I do? 'While in Rome, do as Romans do': yes, I should kiss. But after that I blushed for around 5 minutes.
I also remember my first two kisses in the Netherlands. I kissed the secretary of our group and my supervisor on the first working day after the New Year. It was really an awkward time for a Chinese girl because I did not know how many times I should kiss and which side of the cheek I should kiss first.
In China, people shake hands in formal situations and if they are good friends, maybe hug each other. Parents kiss their young children, but not adults. It is a totally different social culture. Living abroad is a good chance to experience and understand other social customs. Now I think I know a little bit about the kissing custom in the Netherlands. If you are good friends, you should kiss three times, which is different from other countries such as Germany, where you kiss twice./ Xiangdan Meng, PhD Rural Sociology Group