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Intercultural Challenges
More intercultural challenges
Politecnico di Milano
45.5026781, 9.156352900000002
Topic Punctuality

When going abroad I am always aware of the fact of different perceptions of punctuality. And I know myself and how I am. I am the one person that comes to the airport at 5:30 in the morning when I have a flight to catch at 12. Just to make sure. When I am meeting with friends, I usually am 10 minutes too early, so that I can relax and smoke a cigarette before they arrive. I guess it is a cliché that I fulfill for being German, but this is just a custom I have adopted. I don’t even mind it a lot when others are late, but in comparison to Italian standards I had a new experience.

So my Italian friend invited me to his birthday party and said that we should be at the meeting point at 20:30. Me and my friend were rushing a bit, because we underestimated the distance to the meeting point. Anyway – knowing that Italians are likely to be a bit late, we came around 20:40. However, there was no one at the meeting point, so I called my friend. He said they are on their way and will be there in around 10 minutes. So, I asked the waiters if we could sit at the table inside, because it was cold and he had made a reservation. But the waited told me that the reservation was only for 21:00 and that we had to wait until that time to come into the restaurant to sit at the table. My friends finally arrived at 21:10 and felt very sorry that we had to wait so long. But at the same time, we talked about it and he said that he always tells his friends to meet half an hour earlier, because he knows that they will arrive at least 30 minutes later. So afterwards everything was okay, and I understood, so for the next time I knew better and would not rush anywhere.

I think my reaction was quite positive and also because my Italian friend went on exchange to Germany, he knew very well how punctuality can work out in both directions and is understood differently according to the different contexts. He forgot to tell me this in advance, but later it was absolutely no problem. So, my strategy basically was the “Social Support seeking” and in the end everything was okay. We resolved the uneasiness and uncertainty. Because beforehand I knew that Italians are late – but not how late. So that was basically the missing piece of the puzzle for me and now I can decide if I want to arrive on time and wait for my Italian friends or if I will just join and try to relax a bit more in that aspect.

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