As there are so many different kinds of people in each place we live it’s difficult to generalize. That said, there do seem to be some vaguely useful generalizations I’ve amassed in consequence of having lived and worked in a wide variety of cultures (UK, South Africa, Kenya, Arabia, India, USA, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain…).

French, Ukrainian, and Russian women seem to appreciate their difference from men whereas US women (and increasingly British women, as the UK becomes merely a damp and gloomy adjunct of the USA) seem to want to be like men.

Russian-speakers, Brits and Australians (and, of course, Kiwis) seem to appreciate verbal (and especially mordant) humor whereas the French aren’t so certain if humor is necessarily a good thing, and US folk gravitate towards slapstick & humor based on cruelty. The Japanese have a sense of humor that is, well, unlike that of any other culture. Frankly, it’s deeply disturbing. Very deeply disturbing.

The French, Italians, and Spanish really appreciate food. US citizens just want huge quantities at the lowest possible price, while Russian-speakers and German-speakers seem to think that food is some sort of biological punishment designed to toughen them up.

Russian-speakers and French-speakers think sexual activity is normal, healthy, and enjoyable. US citizens are terrified of sexuality. Brits are confused about it. Italians learn quickly that it is a disappointing experience crushed by Catholic fears and guilt.

Brits, like Chinese and Japanese and Indians, are terrified of causing offense. Circumlocution and avoidance are the preferred strategies. Russian-speakers are blunt, as are Australians and French-speakers. Italians are merely boastful.

French people still think smoking is consequence-free; the rest of the world, barring Japan and other Asian nations, long ago worked out this is a huge mistake.

Most of all, wherever you go, if you make an attempt to speak the language and mingle in a non-judgmental way, you’re likely to meet really interesting people and learn some really interesting things. And some of those people may very well end up becoming lifelong friends.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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