Greetings are more rooted in our culture than we realise. Every culture has their own greetings, both in speech and body language. For example, when I lived in France, we would lean in, allowing our cheeks to touch, whilst making kissing noises. I mean what a strange and obscure thing, to make kissing noises whilst 2 cheeks are touching as a form of greeting. And then we would repeat with the other cheeks. I remember the first time I was greeted by a Frenchman and he leaned in and proceeded to carry out the actions. I felt so awkward and uncomfortable, because I did not remember giving him permission to enter my personal space, let alone touch my cheek with his own. I knew it was harmless, and that it was just the way the French greeted each other, yet it felt so strange. And this was not only the case for saying hello, but they would do this again when saying goodbye. That meant 4 cheek touching sessions and 4 kissing noises with complete strangers every time you wanted to greet them. There was a brief moment where I would avoid eye contact with people just so they wouldn’t greet me.
After about a month of living in France, I got used to it and when I would come home to England to see my family and friends, greetings felt so empty without the French gestures. I always had to stop myself from leaning in to greet people the French way. After moving back to England, I returned to my old ways, saying hello with my words, and the occasional wave, the English way.
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