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from Michigan nine years ago, one of the biggest cultures shocks I had was with interactions with Argentine men.I went from an ultra-conservative suburban town filled with uptight people slathering on hand sanitizer after shaking hands to a land where full-on hugs and warm kisses on the cheek are the norm upon meeting someone.To figure out which customs I would choose to accept or wholeheartedly adopt, and which I would question or outright reject. I had to realize that a lot of men here also greet their grandmother and their soccer teammates in this same way. This one has way more grey areas for me than touch.A kiss on the cheek and a warm hug does not necessarily equate to flirtation or desire. I can easily tell when the hug/kiss combo goes beyond what a man would do with his buddies from school or work. While there are some things that are easily recognized as ‘normal’ behavior here, such as emails or texts ending in abrazos or besos (hugs or kisses), in other situations it’s trickier for me.I’ve learned to accept and even embrace certain parts of the language here that might put my guard up in English.
It took me a while to figure out what social interaction was part of a cultural norm and what was inappropriate or over-the-top for me. It’s common to be greeted by a hug and/or a kiss on the cheek, both upon saying hello and saying goodbye (even if those two moments happen within 20 seconds of each other).
Diving deep into Argentine culture these last nine years has definitely helped me shape my sense of self-worth and has made me recognize that what it means to me to be an independent woman is constantly evolving – and that’s okay.