Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fifth/Sixth Month in Colombia

This will probably be my last "list post." While we are still learning so much, it has been harder to record the little things, like we did in the initial months spent here in Colombia. We will try to continue to share new understandings as they come to us, but not on a monthly basis. Here are a few from the last couple months.

It is perfectly acceptable for older people to cut in line.

Dance is absolutely integral, and is found at all parties and as an essential part of the school day.

It is more acceptable to come to a meeting late than to leave early.

The U.S. has had a profound affect on cultural norms here. In the coastal regions where the US Navy is very present, popular baby names were "onedollar" "barack" and "usnavy."

It is really rude to not offer to share food. You always share what you have.

The role of the "administrator" in a business or organization is much broader, and includes making key decisions and planning for the organization.

It is pretty normal to see little foot socks worn with sandals. Interesting.

We have witnessed a great deal of public affection between parents and children. Very common.

Colombians love metaphors, and use them often (which we like).

People eat a snack mid-morning, around 11. For that reason, it is called "Onces." The evening meal is often a light snack, and not until 8:00.

It is NOT common to work through lunch. In our offices, this is considered a very "gringo" thing to do. Almuerzo is a time to stop working, go somewhere, visit with friends, and take your time to eat.

Adults raise their hands to talk during meetings.

Organizations tend to have a more cooperative structure to them.

Someone told us to give Andy a teaspoon to gasoline to combat his car-sickness. They were very insistent that it worked.

Colombians have mandated paternity leave, and three months of paid maternity leave.

It is not generally acceptable to return something to a store. For that reason, before you leave, they take everything out of the package, check it in front of you, go over all the parts/materials, and make sure you see them do it. It took me an hour to buy a phone.

It is not common to wear a wedding ring.

It is very common to commit adultery.

When paying for something, you must put the money in the person's hand directly. Do not put money down on the counter for them to pick up. It is considered very rude.


  1. Onces! Just like Elevenses, in Winnie the Pooh.
    Wonderful to see you seeming more comfortable / settled.

  2. My co-teacher could not believe that Marc and I didn't dance at our wedding. She taught me how to dance, though, and it was awesome! I wish I remembered how. :)

  3. i love these lists. some of these things make me take a deep breath and remember what life is supposed to be.

    full of dance, cooperation, long lunches, sharing, affection...

    smile at your people, kristin

  4. thank you for sharing.
    I find some similarities of their culture and my culture.
    After all, we are all one offspring from our ancestors :)

  5. Fascinating List Jen. I need more dancing and lunch breaks in my life. I am very much a gringo with regard to these items and I'm guessing that will probably lead to a shorter life span for me. However, I think I get back a few years too by not choosing to drink gasoline.