expat, Hospitality

day 18: embrace hospitality

October 20, 2012

(Apologies for being two days behind now! I had a crazy busy end to the week which included something called pecha kucha which I might tell you about sometime. Now to catch up a little…)

I want to talk today about something you might have been well practised at back at home, but are tempted to forget now that you’re in this new strange and new land: hospitality.

Hospitality is one of my favourite things to get excited about. And not the kind of hospitality where you serve aperitifs followed by an intricate three course meal with a cheese course and real napkins in homemade napkin holders and whiskies to end (although all of that is pretty wonderful stuff).

The kind of hospitality where it’s me (or us) extending friendship and welcome to you. Come in, make yourself at home, here is the best of what we have to offer and you’re welcome to share it with us.

When you’re an expat, there’s the tendency to feel like the guest. And in many ways you are, of course. But don’t let that stop you from extending hospitality.

Get to know your neighbours and invite them round for drinks one night. Get together some colleagues and have dinner together. Or take that mother of the kid your son has made friends with for a coffee after you drop them off at the playground.

Different cultures of course have different approaches to hospitality and how it is played out. I read once, for example, that it is quite uncommon for the Japanese to entertain in their own homes until the relationship is much closer. There may be local understandings of religion or gender or class that have a big impact on how hospitality is played out. And so there’s a need to be sympathetic to the local ways of doing things.

But here’s the secret about being an exapt: you can get away with so much more than a local, just because of your “foreigner” status. Invite someone round for dinner long before it would normally be considered normal, and your local neighbours may still happily come because you’re not considered to be breaking their codes.

As curious as you are about this new culture you have entered, you may find they are as curious about you. Try inviting them to celebrate you own food and celebrations with you – if you’re American, invite them for Thanksgiving. If you’re British, put on an afternoon tea or Sunday roast. We’ve had French friends from the Alps bring local cheese and meats for a fondue evening which was fantastic. And last year we threw a Danish julefrokost for Rasmus’ colleagues just before Christmas.

Be intentional about offering hospitality, even while you are a guest in the country you’ve moved to. It may open up doors to friendships and cultural insights that you’d not have had otherwise.

I’m curious, what does hospitality look like in the country you’re living in? Do you see big differences to where you come from? And how has extending hospitality as an expat helped you settle in?

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This post is part of my 31 days to embrace expat life. I’m writing every day through October on this topic. Click on the button to see all the posts so far…

The previous post – Daily Life.

Doughnuts watercolour by Suzy Knabel, via pinterest

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  • Amy Jackson Halley

    You are blessed with the gift of hospitality! So glad I have been a recipient of this gift!! Love you and the way you love others! Praying you continue to find joy in serving and that it comes back to you!