Critical Incident - SHAKING AND NODDING

The misunderstandings of shaking or nodding your head in different countries



Last year I spent a week in Bulgaria, I had never had a student exchange before, so I was really nervous. While I was having dinner with my Bulgarian partner in his house, at first my partner’s mother put the meal on the table, which consisted in  smashed potatoes and a hamburger with some vegetables, I started eating it and I liked it a lot! The whole meal was really tasty. Finally, when I finished eating my food,  I saw there were some more smashed potatoes left and I wanted to eat a little bit more. So, I asked Damian’s mother if I could have some more smashed potatoes. Then she shook her head! In my country, in Catalonia, when people shake their head, it means no! And when people nod their head, it means yes! However, in Bulgaria it’s totally the opposite and I didn’t know that. When Damian’s mother shook her head from one side to the other, I thought I couldn’t eat any more purée because they wanted to keep it for the next day and I said it was okey. Then she stood up next to me and served some more smashed potatoes on my plate. Afterwards  I was really confused; but Damian, my partner, told me what people do with their heads in Bulgaria when they want to say yes or no. At last I got it! Although it took me 3 days to get used to it because it was really confusing for me.

Roger

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