Where One Does Not Equal One

For those of you that don’t do a lot of international travel, I want to save you some trouble. Anytime you head to a different country (and even sometimes within your own country) you run into the problem of communication, and I don’t mean language (ie English to Chinese). I mean communication. Depending on where you grow up, different words and phrases can have completely different meanings and (regardless of what your math teacher tells you) sometimes, 1 does not equal 1.

I just got into Canada for a 5 day trip and before I came up here I was told to pack warm since they were expecting a high of 1 degree. Since Canada is just north of the US, I made a quick assumption that left me thinking they meant one degree fahrenheit, when in fact they meant celsius. Now that may not sound like much of a difference, but when packing to fly somewhere, 32F is a big difference in temperature for what you take with you. And you’ll find these little discrepancies really can make or break a trip (whether for business or personal travel).

The key is to be willing to ask questions. When someone says something to you, make sure you’re both using the same meaning. Until you’ve spent a significant amount of time around a different culture, you’ll miss lots of important stuff if you aren’t willing to ask questions. Sometimes you’ll just miss out on activities, sometimes you’ll lose a business deal. Communication is king and if you can learn to master that, you’ll enjoy your travels much more.

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