Tag Archives: expatriate services

“I” vs. “We”: A Linguistic Perspective on the Super Bowl

“I” vs. “We”: A Linguistic Perspective on the Super Bowl

By: Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.

 

“Oh no, not again!”

“Why do professors insist on these things?”

“Another one…I’ve already got two in my other classes!”

 

Statements like these, followed by lots of heartfelt groans, were the usual reaction to my announcing that we were about to embark on group project time in the classes that I taught. Students in my classrooms loathed the idea of working in groups. They believed it was more trouble than it was worth and that one of the group members, usually themselves, would end up doing all the work. Working as a team was not high on their priority list. How did they develop this attitude? I think language and culture have a lot to do with it. As one of the biggest American spectacles of team interaction (The Super Bowl) is around the corner, let’s take a closer look at the way that our languages suggest cultures of independence or interdependence.

 

There is a saying in American sports that there is no “I” in team. While that may be true in some cases, American’s use of English does not often convey that message. In U.S. culture we are quick to talk about how the decision at hand might impact us as individuals. “That

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meeting time won’t work for me.” “I won’t be able to finish my part before the deadline if s/he doesn’t get me the data in time.” “I can’t catch the ball if he doesn’t throw it to the target.” We are very good at blaming others and denying any fault of our own.

 

I used to hear that kind of talk all the time as a university professor. “Teacher, so-and-so is not doing the work.” “I’m the one doing all the work and I don’t think that is right.” It didn’t matter if I was working at a stateside university or one in Puerto Rico, such comments were rampant. All the focus was on the “I” even though the students were working on group projects. No one seemed interested in trying to work through the issues to bring the group closer together. They would have rather given up than try to make it work. This characteristic is truly representative of an independent, individualistic culture.

 

Outside of the strongly independent Western World, there is more emphasis on working together. Many Asian, African, and Latin American cultures are built on the idea that “two heads are better than one.” They look to the group for the support needed as individuals and truly work together to complete the task, being sure not to leave any one person open

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to scrutiny. If someone is not fulfilling their role in the group, the rest of the group encourages that person to get more involved so they can reach the group or team goal together. The group is more important than any one person and all are needed to complete the task.

 

Avoiding the he said/she said-style finger pointing of individualistic cultures typically allows people in collectivistic cultures to work together more smoothly. There is no need to point out the failures or get upset over the lack of participation of one teammate. Rather, the emphasis is on building up the group as a whole. Proverbs from these regions support this concept. The Japanese, for instance, have a saying that “a single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.” The language of Ethiopia offers this proverb, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” Again, the emphasis is on cooperation and teamwork.

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As the Super Bowl approaches, I will refrain from asking you who you think will win. Instead, I will ask you to pay attention to the media messages leading up to the big game. What questions do the reporters ask of the players and coaches? How do the players and coaches respond? Is there really a sense of team present or is any one player out to “get his own?”

 

Like it or not, thousands of young people, perhaps even your children, watch these games and learn a language from these famous players. Help them unpack those messages instead of swallowing them whole. Point out how many hands hold the trophy during the ceremony. Have them listen carefully to what the players say post-game. Do the players think any one player had more of an impact than others? Help them understand that there are benefits to both independence and interdependence. Teach them to recognize that asking for help is not a bad thing, while also encouraging them to strive toward their personal goals. Allow them to develop a language of inclusivity that gives them skills for working in both contexts. Having both skillsets will help them achieve success in our global society.

 

cropped-GP-Logo1.jpgFor further insight into the fascinating world of intercultural communication, contact Global Perceptions, your relocation and communication consulting specialists in Puerto Rico! 

 

This post was added to the #MyGlobalLife Linkup at Small Planet Studio.

Eye Contact Across Cultures

Eye Contact Across Cultures

By: Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D. and Jennifer Alvarez

 

Nonverbal cues are the source of much intercultural miscommunication. What is left unsaid is often misinterpreted by people from other cultures, creating a source of misunderstanding with potentially life-threatening consequences. One of the most misinterpreted forms of nonverbal communication is the use of eye contact. Some cultures expect direct eye contact while others condone it. Some consider direct eye contact between those of the same gender acceptable, while reserving eye contact between opposite sexes as appropriate only in intimate situations. With so many cultural differences across geographical region, we thought it important to give our readers a guide to this form of communication.

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Middle Eastern cultures view eye contact as something to be strictly avoided. This is particularly true between those of opposite sexes, with the exception of use between family members. Such norms are based on strict religious rules that prohibit interaction between the sexes. However, eye contact between men shows confidence and sends the impression that what is being said is based on truth. Men who maintain eye contact during conversations with other men are thought to be trustworthy.

 

When interacting with people from these cultures, it is important for Westerns to know about these communication differences because any prolonged eye contact between a man and woman can insinuate that an intimate interaction is desired. This is particularly important if you want to avoid any repercussions that may occur if thought to be trying to steal someone’s mate.

 

Although there are many cultural and communication differences between Asian, African, and Latin American cultures, they generally coincide on the use of eye contact. These groups are more hierarchical in nature, believing that there are social and age-based reasons to show respect to those in authority. Their eye contact demonstrates this. Those in authority (parents, teachers) are expected to look directly at the person with whom they are speaking, but those lower in the social hierarchy (children, students) are expected to deflect their look, often by looking down. This is seen as a sign of respect and should not be interpreted as a lack of confidence.

 

deniroPeople who grow up in the United States learn that it is respectful to look someone in the eye when spoken to or when speaking to others. This shows interest in what is being said. It also demonstrates a sense of confidence and conviction in one’s ideas. If the speaker avoids eye contact, s/he is thought to be hiding something or lacking knowledge of the topic. If the listener, however, avoids eye contact, it shows that the listener is distracted and not paying attention. An exception to this cultural norm is when in crowded spaces like elevators. In those cases, eye contact is avoided.

 

In much of Western Europe, the norms are much like those in the United States. Looking people in the eye is considered polite and should be maintained throughout the conversation. This is particularly important in business settings. One difference between the U.S. and places like France, for example, is that eye contact can be interpreted in more flirtatious ways. The French may casually use eye contact to let someone know that s/he is interested in getting to know her/him. Visitors should be aware of this interpretation to reduce cultural misunderstandings.

 

Before traveling or relocating to another country, take the time to learn about cultural differences. Knowing what is socially acceptable can help you avoid making serious cultural mistakes. Relocation specialists like those at Global Perceptions can help! Make your international move a smooth one by taking part in our cultural adaptation seminars! To learn more, visit http://www.global-perceptions.com/

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Spotlight City: Cabo Rojo

Don’t Miss Cabo Rojo!

If you are considering traveling to Puerto Rico, are new to the island, or just need a diversion from your daily routine in the metropolitan area, head to Cabo Rojo! Cabo Rojo, located on the very Southwestern tip of the island, is a small community that offers big time views. Those views, and much more, make Cabo Rojo a must-see despite its distance from San Juan.

Although a trip to Cabo Rojo and back can be completed in a day, it’s a long day of driving so most people make a weekend of it, staying in one of the many small hotels or paradors in the area. Grand Bahía Ocean View Hotel, one of these hotels, is sandwiched between the salt flats and the mangroves, providing a secluded area from which to watch the sun set. The chefs and wait staff at the on-site restaurant, Agua al Cuello, never fail to give you an unforgettable dining experience of fresh seafood and delectable desserts.

From the pool deck of Grand Bahía Ocean View Hotel you can see the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse off to the left. This is an ideal place for photographers and travel enthusiasts. El Faro Los Morillos (as it is called in Spanish) was constructed in 1882 to help sailors through the Mona Passage. Today it is one of Puerto Rico’s most picturesque sights. Set high above the Caribbean waters atop limestone cliffs, the Cabo Rojo lighthouse stands as a beacon summoning visitors and residents alike. Be sure to bring your camera because these are images you won’t want to forget. And keep children near you at all times since there are no guardrails to protect them.

On the other side of the lighthouse is Playa Sucia, a secluded beach for a refreshing dip after climbing the hill to the lighthouse. This inlet in the Caribbean Ocean is a favorite among locals, but can be a challenge to get to if you have kids or lots to carry. Our recommendation would be to pack light because the path is not always accessible via automobile. That way you can truly relax beachfront and enjoy the incredible view and warm sunshine.

For nature enthusiasts, the area also features the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. Those up for a good hike will witness native birds and plants while wandering through the subtropical dry forest. In and around the Interpretive Center (open Thursday through Sunday) you can get more details about the history of the area, including the salt flats, as well as the birds that frequent the area. Guides are also available for a fee. Be sure to bring your sunscreen, bug spray, and water and wear appropriate clothing for hiking! The trails are not long, but the sun is hot!

As you can see, for rest and relaxation, Cabo Rojo is where it’s at! Make sure to include it on your Puerto Rican bucket list!

Watch for other Spotlight City posts from around Puerto Rico courtesy of your Relocation Specialist in Puerto Rico, Global Perceptions!

 

 

 

Who are we? What do we do? Get to know Global Perceptions!

 

Who are we? What do we do? Get to know Global Perceptions!

By: Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.

 

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If you are new to Puerto Rico or are thinking of moving here, we are a crucial resource for you. Whether coming alone, with family, or with your small business, we provide what you need from start to finish. Learn more about who we are and what we do at this link.

http://eepurl.com/bbi_2z

 

Intrigued? Want to know more? Contact our relocation experts to start planning your move to Puerto Rico!

Vegan food options in Vieques, Puerto Rico!

New to Puerto Rico? Struggling to find healthy food alternatives? Try these tasty ideas for your visit to Vieques!

http://ow.ly/2Thbp3

Lighthouse in Vieques

Lighthouse in Vieques

For additional relocation assistance following your move to Puerto Rico, please contact Global Perceptions. We provide relocation and language learning programs for your whole family as well as corporate communication training. Contact us today!

 

 

Three Healthcare Tips for Your Big Move

 

The holidays are upon us and Global Perceptions wants to reward you by givingIMG_0592[1] you 12 DAYS OF FREE GIFTS! Here are our relocation tips for DAY 4!

 

Three Healthcare Tips for Your Big Move

By Jennifer Alvarez and Julie Parenteau

 

Remaining healthy during your relocation process, as well as maintaining your health abroad, is vital. To stay healthy, Global Perceptions recommends taking the following precautions.  

  1. Medical Coverage.  If you are relocating due to your job, make sure to clarify
    Learn about healthcare procedures in your host country before leaving.

    Learn about healthcare procedures in your host country before leaving.

    what will be covered in your host country. If you will need to transfer your medical insurance, make sure you complete this transaction immediately after arrival. This will ensure that you and your family will be covered in case of a medical emergency.

 

  1.    Vaccinations. Most countries share the same series of vaccinations.  In some cases, depending on the country you are relocating to, there may be additional mandatory vaccinations that need to be completed before you travel there. Aside from mandatory vaccinations, check to see what vaccinations may be recommended, but not required.  The main point is to protect yourself against various diseases that some countries have that others do not.

 

  1. Medication Supply.  Make sure you receive at least a one month supply of all
    pills

    Get your prescriptions filled prior to departure.

    medications for all family members before you depart.  It may take some time to finalize your medical insurance paperwork and locate a primary health care physician.  You do not want to run out of your much needed medication before you are able to obtain a refill.

Taking these measures will help you and your family stay physically healthy so that you can focus more on staying emotionally healthy during this trying time.

 

For more relocation advice for your move to Puerto Rico or beyond, please contact Global Perceptions. Or visit us on Facebook and Twitter!

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https://twitter.com/relocationpr

 

 

 

 

5 Tips for Bringing Fall to Life as an Expat

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

5 Tips for Bringing Fall to Life as an Expat

By: Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D., Owner/President of Global Perceptions

 

Fall is my favorite time of year. There’s something about the cool, crisp air ushering in the season that makes me feel renewed. Sipping hot chocolate after Friday night high school football games and picking apples from a nearby orchard add to my giddiness. Or at least

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

they did! Since moving to Puerto Rico eight years ago, I have seen precious little of the colorful trees shining in the setting sun. In Puerto Rico, there is only a slight difference from one season to another. So slight in fact, that I forget that seasons even change. That’s a pretty big change for a Midwestern girl accustomed to greeting the seasons with gusto.

Despite my change of venue, I have found ways to bring my favorite season to life, even in the Caribbean! Here are my top 5 ways to keep fall alive for expatriates living in Puerto Rico and other tropical locations.

 

1) Watch American Football

I am a HUGE Green Bay Packers fan! It’s hard to grow up in Wisconsin and not be. If American football is one of your passions, carry it to your new home and watch your team with local fans. Win or lose, cheer or jeer, get together as a family over nachos and chili, just like home. Sometimes even just the consistent schedule of games will help you recreate the fall feeling.

 

2) Bake, Bake, Bake

Get our your mixer and have a bake-a-thon! Fall without recipes made of pumpkin, apple and cranberry just wouldn’t be fall. Let the scents of cakes, breads, cookies, pies and muffins waft through your house, creating a sensation that transports you to the coziness of a fireplace-heated living room. Imagine yourself wearing flannel pajamas as you crack

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

eggs, even though you are likely in shorts and a tank top. If you think ahead, you can even have pumpkin spice and butterscotch shipped right to your door via online shopping! And you’ll have something delicious to eat afterward!

 

3) Buy a new sweater

The feel of a new sweater is such a fall thing. The softness and warmth that it emits even while on the store rack beckons the aimless shopper. Cashmere, knit, wool….they all call out, promising to comfort in the best and worst of times. And somehow you know that whether it’s a cool gray or warm cranberry color, you will be comforted by its thread.

 

4) Pick up scented candles

When you start dreaming of enjoying Saturday afternoon walks in the park, listening to the crunch of the fallen leaves beneath your hiking boots, you know it’s time to find a

Sometimes giving into  your desires is the best thing you can do!

Sometimes giving into your desires is the best thing you can do!

substitute. Candles work wonders! Pick up something that screams FALL to you. I personally like apple-scented candles, but there are lots to pick from. Find one that works for you and light it!

 

5) Get on the plane

For those times when the nostalgia simply takes over and you have to see, feel, hear, taste and touch the fall, get on the plane and reward yourself with a few days in a place that offers just what you need. Consider a trip mid-October to early November in places like Washington, D.C. or Kansas City. The temperatures still aren’t too cold during the day, but they offer crisp nights perfect for trying out that new sweater.

 

For more ideas on making your transition to Puerto Rico a positive experience, consult with the Relocation Specialists at Global Perceptions! We have the local experience, but the global reach. Visit us TODAY at http://global-perceptions.com/

 

“Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com” – See more at: http://www.smallplanetstudio.com/2014/09/26/september-mygloballife-link-up/#sthash.UM54udoA.dpuf

Cultural Orientation Services for Your Relocation to Puerto Rico

Global Perceptions offers the complete package! By Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.

 

Have you had a cultural orientation program for your move to Puerto Rico that left you with more questions than answers? Have you had a poor experience with your relocation agent? Have your family members struggled to adjust to the life and culture of Puerto Rico? Has your job as an expatriate executive been impacted as a result? Do you feel left out because language lessons were not included in your relocation package?

Come and see the jewel of the Caribbean!

Come and see the jewel of the Caribbean!

If this has been your Puerto Rican relocation experience, then we are glad that you have discovered Global Perceptions. Our custom-designed services offer you and your family members thorough, honest, and ethical cultural orientation programs. We assess the needs of your family and then design cultural orientation training curriculum to meet those needs. We make certain that everyone, down to your treasured family pet, knows what it takes to successfully adapt to life in Puerto Rico.

But we do not stop there! We also provide language learning courses for all ages. We want you to adapt to your new culture effectively and recognize the need for language

Our President teaching an English Class

Our President teaching an English Class

skills to achieve this goal. For this reason, we offer individual and group language courses for both Spanish and English learners. Classes focus on teaching you to communicate in everyday situations as you work to adjust, while also helping you understand what others are saying.

Additionally, Global Perceptions works with expatriate executives to increase their understanding of what it means to work with local employees. As newcomers in the local culture, learning business etiquette and protocol is essential to obtaining corporate objectives. We know that and work with you to navigate this important piece of the relocation process. Your success is imperative to us!

Global Perceptions offers you and your family the complete cultural orientation package. We know what it takes to successfully adjust to the culture of Puerto Rico because we have been through that process ourselves. Our staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as you adapt to living in Puerto Rico.

Do not wait! Contact us TODAY! Register for our FREE newsletter and learn more about our services at http://www.global-perceptions.com/

Wake-up Call

Written by Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D., President of Global Perceptions Communication and Relocation Consulting

 

 Wake-up Call

IMAG0142Cocka doodle doo! Cocka doodle doo!

It’s early morning and the sky is still black. The normally bustling neighborhood is silent at this hour. Then it hits again.

Cocka doodle doo! Cocka doodle doo!

“All right, already, I’m awake,” I shout.

Through sleep-mattered eyes I peer at the clock—4:30am. It’s much too early for me to be awake, especially in the middle of July when there are no classes in session. This is supposed to be the time when I make up for all of the quality sleep time that I missed last semester, but it appears that someone, or rather something, has a different opinion.

Cocka doodle doo! Cocka doodle doo!

“All right, that’s it! I’m coming after you, you stupid bird!”

Feeling my blood boil, I wrap a pillow around my head. I have had enough of that ridiculous rooster waking me up before the crack of dawn, and I’ve only been here for a week. “So this is how the farmers live,” I think. The problem is that I am far from anything that resembles a farm to me and even when I lived in the small farm towns of Wisconsin, I was never bothered by a
P1020488self important rooster. Now that I am in the middle of a major metropolitan area, I certainly did not think that a rooster waking me up would be one of my dilemmas. Traffic jams and long lines were things that I expected. A rooster was not. I began to wonder just how people lived here. I mean why is there a rooster in the neighbor’s yard in the middle of the city anyway? This simply made no reasonable sense to me.

The next few minutes were silent and I drifted back to sleep. Dreams of the peaceful countryside back home filled my head allowing me to calm down. Half an hour later though, the rooster was back to his antics. “This is too much. How am I ever going to manage to survive here if I can’t even get a good night’s sleep?” I wonder. Giving up on sleep for the moment, I turn on the television. The bird may have won today, but I vow to win the overall tug of war battle with that bird. Before long, he will have met his match.

Or so I thought…fast-forward seven years and now all of my neighbors have roosters. In that time, I have learned to sleep through their wake-up calls and largely ignore then during the day. They no longer annoy me like they once did. Now my biggest concern is keeping my dogs from killing the darn roosters. In the beginning this challenge seemed insurmountable. Now it is an everyday occurrence. I guess the rooster won after all.

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