(Posted September 17, 2013)

Greetings and goodbyes vary from country to country and culture to culture. Photo by Kelly Russo '14

Greetings and goodbyes vary from country to country and culture to culture. Photo by Kelly Russo '14

Juniata College is a place where hundreds of people from many countries around the world converge every year for an academic experience and to get to know one another. However, greeting styles can be as diverse as the students who use them. Students at Juniata share the similarities and the differences in the greeting styles from their home countries.

Sofia Rosero, Quito, Ecuador

"In my country normally you introduce yourself by kissing each other once on the cheek. This happens with greetings between women and other women and men and women. Age is not a limitation; you use this form with your friends, parents or colleagues. Men usually just shake hands when they meet, however. It's very different from the United States because Americans just shake hands when they introduce themselves, but it is not real contact..

At the beginning it was hard because I used to give a kiss on the cheek to anyone. Now, I have to watch myself because I knew some people refuse this kind of behavior. I have to have a lot of control of myself in order to approach others. Even if I know them, I know that I can't give kisses to them."

Tringa Gashi, Kosovo

"How we greet people depends on the relationship that you have with them. When you meet older people, you shake hands. When you speak with a female friend, you kiss three times in the cheek. You can start on the left or right cheek. It doesn't matter. But if you meet a man, you just hug. In the United States, people mostly don't shake hands. For me it is strange, especially when you talk with older people. It was a little hard at the beginning but now it is OK."

Kanako Moden, Sapporo, Japan

"The most popular and informal way to greet someone in Japan is to say " konnichiwa." However, in Japan, greetings are more strongly based on the time of day than in English. There are different greetings used during most periods of the day. In the morning, you say "ohayo gozaimasu." In the evening, "konbanwa" is used. At night, people say "oyasumi nasai." "Sayonara" is the most common and popular way to say good-bye.

If you say hi to your friends, you just wave or shake your hand without physical contact. But if you meet with your family or an older person you have to bow to show respect to them. Bowing is considered extremely important in Japan. A small head nod is a considered casual and is used when greeting family or friends. When greeting a superior, it is a sign of respect to use a deep, longer bow.

I didn't feel too much difference when I came to the United States. Sometimes American people are friendlier. This is not usually the case in my country. We need less physical contact like hugs or shaking hands.

Hanh Nghiem, Hanoi, Vietnam

The greeting in Vietnam is similar to America but there is more distance. In Vietnam, when we meet someone, we shake hands or hug, but not as much as people do in the United States. Between friends or family, people hug more than friends or when meeting people on the street. I didn't really expect much of a difference. Before I came, I knew American people are really friendly, so I expected them to hug and kiss a lot. I wasn't very surprised by the similar greetings.

--Katherine Tobar Manosalvas, '17, Juniata Online Journalist

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.