A tribute to culture shock and why it never pays to make too many assumptions, because ASSume makes a ‘you know what’ out of u and me… For this weeks blog I’m doing something a little different as a tribute to Thanksgiving, and sharing a funny, creative piece I wrote a number of years back about living in the UK. My first Thanksgiving there I attempted to cook a massive turkey in an ill-equipped British kitchen. When I read the piece the other day, it reminded me that culture shock is indeed very real, and how our assumptions can often get the better of us. A perfect theme for a leadership blog, as we often jump up the “ladder of inference” to our detriment. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I enjoyed writing it! The Most Difficult Task The most difficult task I’ve ever taken on, despite scaling the misty summit of Kilimanjaro and even ascending the higher passes of Everest, was cooking a Thanksgiving turkey in a tiny, ill-equipped English kitchen. To be fair, it was a rather large turkey. Much larger than I’d anticipated when I placed the order. Still relatively new to the UK, my mental kilo to pound conversion math was frankly a bit shoddy. My first Thanksgiving in England was a bust. I’d been living in the UK only a couple of weeks, and having no friends, my English boyfriend Gareth took pity on me and hastily invited his mate Paul over to our little flat in Surbiton, a suburb of London. Paul brought his girlfriend Nikki, a tall, anorexic-looking woman with razor sharp features and a wry, forced smile. The feast was held in the living room, which had been rearranged to create some resemblance of a dining area. We dined over bland, half cooked Brussel sprouts, as Gareth insisted that I salted food too much, and a couple of anemic Cornish game hens. I learned that day, turkey just wasn’t “done” in the UK. If you really were, as they say, “mad keen” to have it, you went down to the butcher shop and placed an order many weeks in advance. Luckily there was plenty of booze, which Gareth and I didn’t hesitate to indulge in. Paul joined us in the liberations as Gareth and I proceeded to tell the drunken and somewhat inappropriate love story of our first meeting on a crowed Grecian beach while Paul appeared interested and Nikki pretended to be, as she pushed her food around on her plate and took polite sips of prosecco. A few hours later, we bade them adieu, and I was rather proud of my first makeshift British dinner party. I asked Gareth to call them again for another meetup, but he never heard back. This year was going to be different But this year was going to be different. To start off with, I had real friends. Not just people I vaguely knew from the office or Gareth’s friends who […]
November 23, 2022
16.5 min read
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