Saturday, April 23, 2005

Little Differences

Part of taking a vacation to a foreign country is to find all the little differences around yourself. We have been captivated by the minor differences, popping up in all the similiarities that surround us.

One thing I noticed the other day while DM and I were eating at the coffee shop (and also when we had been at the mall eating with Johnny). At different fast food and á la carte places, we will get food and it will be served on trays. This is common back home as well. What I have found interesting is that when people are finished eating, they leave the trays sitting on the tables and leave. We have cleaning staffs back at home that will wipe down tables, but most Minnesotas, at least, if not Americans, would think it inconsiderate to leave a tray sitting on the table.

We have been told that to signal the end of a meal here, it is proper to put your utensils together on the plate at 5 o'clock. This helps waiters to realize that you are done and they can take the plate away. Back home, I'm familar with just putting my napkin down on the plate and pushing it away a bit.

The light for Johnny's bathroom is outside the bathroom. This is hard to get used to.

Few of the windows I have seen have screens in them. Johnny does have some netting over part of her windows in the living room, but not the other windows in the flat. I am so used to having the screens to keep out bugs and I am surprised to see an open window with nothing blocking the view.

The Porties do not end phone conversations the way the Americans do. I hope you understand what I mean. We as Americans end our conversations with, "Talk to you later" or "So we'll meet at such and such". The practice of saying, "Goodbye" to signal the end of the conversation has fallen to the wayside. Porties end their conversations with the Portugese equivalent of "Kisses".

On the TV, a series of commercials (time killers to the next show really) play music videos. The funny part is that the names of the song and artist are not shown. There is a note on the bottom of the screen that tells the viewer that they can call in and pay a few Euros to find out the artist name and song. Johnny has told us that this is a new development, something being used to make money.

In watching TV, I have also noticed something about shows. American shows play with regular frequency here, but the commercials are shown less. The screen will blacken, cutting to commercial, but then resume the show. It is like they only show commercials once or twice during an hour long show, versus the every 13 minutes Americans have become so used to (unless it is a pay-channel cable show like The Sopranos).

The shows on the telly are shown in their original language. British and American shows have Portugese subtitles. DM is learning how to read some Portugese this way.

And tonight? Tonight we are going out on the town. I am excited, I am not a big fan of nightclubs or dancing, but I do like to see the differences and how others have fun. It should be a wild and crazy time!


Fellow bloggers, I pose a question to you. I did not know the proper answer when DM asked me so I beg for your help:

"Do you think anyone would notice if I started wearing a pink feathered mask?"