How to get ahead in Latvia

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Latvian woman at work

When I first moved to Latvia, I had a pretty cushy life. I had a contract with a school which included my rent, most of my bills, paid holidays at Easter and Christmas, and a chauffeur to drive me to any lessons outside Central Riga. Sure, I’d given up a €50,000 a year job in Ireland to earn less than a fifth of that, but by Latvian standards, I was doing quite nicely.

Of course, me being me, I decided that this wasn’t challenging enough and came up with the idea to strike out on my own. (Latvian customer service being what it is, I figured I couldn’t do any worse.) So I set up my own company with the aim of proofreading documents for Latvian businesses. This was before I realised that Latvians think 10 to 15 mistakes per sentence is perfectly acceptable, as people should understand that English is not their native language and forgive them.

And so, after 5 weeks’ working in a summer school in England, I arrived back in Riga in September 2012, homeless and jobless, with 100 business cards in a little box. Installed on my hapless friend’s sofa, surrounded by my worldly possessions in black sacks, I (rightly) realised that it would take business a while to take off. So I set about finding some freelance work to tide me over.

Three interviews later, I had three jobs. I was also lucky enough to take the second flat I looked at. Things can turn around pretty quickly in Riga. In the space of a week, I had gone from having my own company, no job and no flat to having my own company, three jobs and a flat. But obviously I didn’t have much time to sit around patting myself on the back.

Fast forward nine months. I’ve managed to cut back to two freelancing jobs, teaching several groups for my own company, some individual students, a little proofreading, some presentation consultation work, the odd voice-over gig and a blogging assistant position. So things have started to pick up. But just in case anyone else was thinking of setting up their own business in Latvia, I thought I’d save them some trouble and put together a sort of ‘Idiot’s Guide to Doing Business in Latvia’. It sure would have saved me some time, effort, and a whole lot of looking like a prat if somebody had told me these things before I got started…

The Latvian Look:

In Latvia, appearance is very important. I’d go so far as to say that it really doesn’t matter if you’re talking out your ass most of the time – as long as your ass is clad in Gucci.

Men should dress conservatively, preferably in designer or tailored suits. Women should also dress conservatively. But bear in mind that the Latvian idea of ‘conservative dress’ is quite different to the rest of the world’s. So don’t be too surprised if a client rocks up looking something like this…

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Also, you can forget about comfort. High heels are a must or else people will think that there’s something wrong with your legs. And yes, this is essential on your journey to and from work, even if you’re on a bicycle. Of course it’s better if you’ve got a Lexus, Porsche or Bentley.

The Irish Approach:

Wear flip flops or trainers as far as the door, then cunningly change into heels before being seen by any students or clients. Or, on the days when you just can’t be bothered, leave your flip flops on.

Latvian Introductions:

You will be addressed as The Honourable (Surname) when you are first introduced to someone.

The Irish Approach:

Call everyone ‘Janis’ until advised otherwise.

Latvian Chat:

Small talk is not welcome. Family, health and children are not acceptable topics of conversation. Get straight to the point. However, if your meeting is on-site, you are permitted to admire the machinery or technology of the other company.

‘Ooh, nice levers’ or something like that would probably go down very well.

The Irish Approach:

Irish:        ‘So…are you married, kids?’

Latvian:   ‘Are you after my husband?’

Meetings in Latvia:

Do not show up early or late. Being exactly on time is the only way to go. You can not just ‘drop in’ on somebody. Appointments are always necessary. This is possibly because Latvians tend to look busier than they actually are – in fact, it should be their national sport. They’re much better at it than they are at their real national sport.

The Irish Approach:

Show up just a little early so you get to see the classic ‘rumbled’ look on their faces.

The Latvian Approach to Management:

Managing Latvians is no easy task. If you are knowledgeable and make tough decisions, your staff won’t be happy about it. If you are very approachable and people-oriented, Latvians won’t be happy about it because they will think you’re not capable of making tough decisions. You could try to find the happy medium, but even then, Latvians will find something to be unhappy about.

The Irish Approach:

Don’t bother. Work for yourself, by yourself.

Latvian Hospitality:

Doing business over dinner is quite popular but dinners do not last longer than 1 hour. In that time, you have to talk about your plans, carry out any negotiations,  finalise the deal, sign the contracts, eat and settle the bill. (Luckily, Latvians don’t do small talk or there would be serious time pressure.)

The Irish Approach:

Skip dinner, have 15 pints, scratch a signature on a beer mat, and leave the bar arm-in-arm, singing, at around 3am.

See where I went wrong there?

The Irish Approach

The Irish Approach

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About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Humor, Humour, Work and business and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to How to get ahead in Latvia

  1. Rael says:

    Btw, stilettos are a very good weapon. Not worse than Grinders, that I usually wear. So, Grinders for me, stilettos for her, just like Bonnie & Clyde. Dark romantics 🙂
    Flip-fops are just meh, unless woman has very nice feet, which is rare. Or unless you are a foot-fetishist, of course. Blessed are those who can get high 😀

    • Expat Eye says:

      I have beeeeoooootiful feet 😉

      • Rael says:

        Actually, you are quite cute for an Irish. Usually your women are a visual disaster.
        Oh, forgive me for being just honest 😀

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha ha, the women of Ireland are weeping right now 😉 Fancy sending a pic of yourself so we can all have a gawk at you instead?? 😉

      • Rael says:

        And what makes you assume I’m that ugly BEFORE you saw a picture? Kinda illogical, don’t you think? Ah, sure, I hurt your precious Irish feeeeeeeelings 🙂 C’mon, you are doing it to Latvians everyday.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ooh, touchy! Who said I thought you’d be ugly?? Maybe I just wanted some eye candy to brighten up my day! Didn’t think of that, did ya? 😉

      • Rael says:

        No way you are looking for eye candy. Would you assume I’m handsome, you wouldn’t want my pic, for there’s no sarcasm in it, right? I understand, it’s just a way to show me “the place where I belong” 🙂
        Listen, if my being ugly could turn Irish women into attractive, I’d give you the most disgusting snap of myself, cause I am not a mean person. But things doesn’t work that way, girl 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        No, no, you got that wrong – I’m all for a bit of eye candy. I can appreciate the hell out of that 😉

      • Rael says:

        I don’t believe you 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        People have even commented on them! 🙂

      • Rael says:

        Yeah, we know. These (un)famous “sarcastic” comments.
        Yawn.

      • Expat Eye says:

        You’re getting a bit troll-y – I think you need to go give your favourite artist a hug and get your mojo back…

      • Rael says:

        Deleting comments, huh? No sense of “humour” today, just pressing “delete”?
        LOL

      • Expat Eye says:

        I was actually trying to catch up on some other bloggers’ posts – far more enjoyable than approving this crap 😉

    • Emmi says:

      umm… weeelll……. is he a Latvian man? I ll have to go there visit my friend in three weeks. Im scared! I hope Latvian men with their super high standarts wont be throwing stones at me for not wearing stilettos in the street…

  2. Anna says:

    I crazy-love this post, and also am crazy-impressed with your business savvy!

  3. Ņina says:

    Was an awesome read! You made me think of cultural differences.. (I’m Finnish, moving to Latvia soon. I have previously been an expat in the Netherlands) It’s fun how I realise Finland is probably culturally like between Ireland (+Western Europe) and Latvia. Women here wear flats and dress unfeminine mostly, but there is also no small talk and no smiles. So at least that part will be easy for me. I actually found it hard when I lived in the Netherlands and I didn’t know how to do small talk…. So I won’t have that problem in Latvia!
    I love how Latvians speak English, it’s so cute when they leave out articles… I know, not correct, but it gives me a smile:) I also somehow feel like also the content is interesting when they speak English. I asked one guy what his fave food was and he wrote “Everything, that don’t move.”

    I’ve got the impression that Latvians have very good self confidence. Would you agree with this? A Finn who lives there told me “They think they know everything even if they didn’t” he said that was the biggest cultural difference between Finland, as Finns always wish to downplay their knowledge and skills (it is considered a virtue to do so).

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hmm, interesting! I definitely think that Latvians like to think that they know everything about everything. However, on the flip side, they can also be very shy about expressing their opinions sometimes – a bit of a contradiction I know! At least until they’ve had a few beers anyway 😉 PS. I can’t believe you think Latvian is the most romantic language in the world!!! They’re going to love you haha!

  4. This is sooo funny! I am a Latvian living in America, and even though my mother and I have been her for 20 years, she still acts just like all of the ways you descibed above. She will even get mad at me when I try to tell her “Mom, we live in America, things are different here!” AND she will get mad at Americans for acting like…. well… Americans and not Latvians! She also only wears heels- I just found the first pair of flats at her apartment this past year! In all… All of it is very well said! I hope you are enjoying our beautiful country…. I am very jealous! 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Victoria, thank you so much! I’m glad I hit the nail on the head – fair play to your mother for holding off on buying flats for so long! She has a lot more stamina than I do;) I love that she gets mad at Americans for being American! Linda.

  5. polyglotfun says:

    I was just listening to the radio the other day. When they mentioned Latvia, I immediately thought of you! Ha. Apparently, Latvians love singing folk songs. Is that true?

    I finished writing my program’s update, by the way. There’s a Latvian option now – it was pretty fun to learn a bit of Latvian, actually. 🙂 You can check it out here: http://polyglotfun.com/2013/06/15/number-writer-2-0/

    • Expat Eye says:

      They LOVE folk songs! In fact, the Song and Dance festival is coming up in July. It only happens every 5 years so is a very big deal! You’re a star for doing that – you probably know more Latvian than I do already haha! 🙂

  6. brod says:

    Latvians love demonizing the Soviet times, so their opinion on this topic must be viewed critically. Life in Russia was tougher but people have different opinions about that period and positive things are heard qiute often.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi, thanks for the comment! Yes, I’ve heard a lot from both sides – most people seem to agree that the education system was a lot better anyway. That’ll probably get me in trouble too 😉 Linda.

  7. Riga has a high percentage of Russians living there, a detail you’ve overlooked. When you see outlandishly dressed people donning fake Gucci and driving a Lexus, chances are, they are NOT Latvian. Also, I’ve never, ever, seen anyone pressurised into wearing high heels. In the fancy office I once worked, women came to work in ballet flats all the time (except winter, of course).

    Your writing is very funny and I can agree with a couple of our idiosyncrasies (particularly about shitty English skills, although you should remember that most people over 30 were educated in the Soviet times and language learning, particularly English, was not a priority). Still, the overall perspective is terribly skewed.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Signe, thanks for your comment! Glad you find at least some parts of it entertaining! The idea for the article that you commented on actually came from a lesson that I had with my students. We were doing a topic on how to do business in Latvia – what to expect, dos and don’ts etc. So all of the points included came from real Latvians. Latvian Latvians! To be honest, I found the shoe thing a bit unbelievable as well so I even asked other students in different groups and they all pretty much agreed. So I’m just going on the information I was given and what I mainly see.

      As for the Russians, yes, I think I’ve conceded this point a number of times to various comments like this one! 😉 I agree that it is generally the Russians who dress OTT. When I say Latvian, generally I mean people born in Latvia, who have lived and worked here all their lives, be it Latvian Latvians or Russian Latvians/Latvian Russians – which do you prefer? See how confusing it gets? A lot of people who read the blog aren’t living in Latvia so I try to keep it simple 😉

      And yes of course, it’s a bit skewed or generalised – I write about the things I find funny or different. If I just wrote about lovely lessons with my lovely students every day, I’d be bored out of my mind and I think anybody reading it would be too! Anyway, I hope I’ve explained myself and my blog a little better! Have a nice day! Linda.

      • noveerotaaja says:

        Oh man, Linda, you are getting into a dangerous topic… Maybe one of the next ones will be about Russian-speaking Latvians to educate all your non-Latvian readers.. As I am very biased, I better do not even start telling my opinion, but just ask some of your students with Russian and Latvian mother tongues (if you have both sides in your classes) about Russian-speakers who are born in Latvia… And another hot discussion, research and a blog post are granted!
        P.S. I posted this link on my Facebook, it got re-posted and commented quite a lot 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha, I’m sure! So, go on then, which are you and what’s your opinion?? Funnily enough, the vast majority of my students at the moment are Latvian Latvians but I do have one fantastic Russian lady (who was actually born in Russia yet still has to get a visa to visit her family in Russia…) who is one of the friendliest, keenest students I’ve ever had.

        To be honest, the whole thing still confuses me. Latvians tell me they hate the Russians, yet in the next breath, say that they have Russian friends, Russians are friendlier and more open in general and automatically switch to Russian when speaking to one – despite going on about how much they hate the fact that Russians refuse to learn the Latvian language! Maybe you can help me out here or am I just getting into more and more dangerous territory!? (Hopefully you can see how it’s all a bit contradictory from a foreigner’s point of view)

      • Lottie says:

        Some things were really funny (about no small talk, calling everyone Janis and doing it Irish way and go out of the pub at 3 AM). We always look for differences but indeed in the very nutshell there aren’t that many huge differences between Irish and Latvians (English vs Latvians – totally different story). I agree with Signe that most people dress “like humans” and do not break their ankles in stilettos. I’ve been more shocked by the looks of freshman girls in Nottingham, England (belt for dress+heels+makeup). Basically, the “Latvian style” would be “to be in style”, keep elegance, dress according to the situation and be presentable. Nowadays it is more of a duty to be a hipster though (no wonder Riga is voted the hipster capital of Europe). I’ve heard that many Swedes too consider that their duty is to take good care of their looks and look well in every situation. People are so different in Latvia (even in the way they conduct business) and you can find all sorts and sizes 🙂 I hope in one of the blogs you’ll write more about the eating traditions in LV because that’s the Big subject there and if there is something to be made fun of it is the “Latvian eating disease” (ample food for every occasion – big or small). But you can certainly do the things in Irish style in LV and teach them to locals – they’ll love it!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Hi Lottie! Thanks for the comment! I’ve written a couple of posts about food actually – you can check these out – https://expateyeonlatvia.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/food-glorious-food/ and https://expateyeonlatvia.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/flour-power-or-lack-thereof/ I also wrote a recent one on my attempts in the kitchen – it seems I’m turning into a cake-baking Latvian woman 😉 Linda.

  8. Tatjana says:

    Hi Linda. I like your blog a lot. It so funny to see my country with the expat eyes! I am an expat in the Netherlands myself and I recognize a lot of things you are writing about. Sometimes it’s Latvian – Irish translation and other times it’s the other way around.
    I recognize the things you write about the looks because I now live in the country where they do not pay attention to it that much. But on the other hand guys here take more care of their looks than guys in Latvia.
    I do recognize the difficulties with small talks in myself and being suspicious/uncomfortable about people questions. It makes me think that it is maybe cultural not personal. Thanks! 🙂
    I wonder if you really see the meetings and dinners in Latvia like this because exactly those things stroke me the most in the Netherlands when I moved here from Latvia. People making appointments for everything, even their friends and family, dinners at 6 pm and that you cannot just drop by unannounced (unless you are very close with the people). Maybe Irish people are just very easy about it. 🙂
    Looking forward for the next posts! Enjoy your stay!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I guess we’re a bit more casual about things alright! I think it’s pretty standard to make business appointments but with friends, you can just pop in whenever. Glad you like the blog and see a bit of truth in it! 😉 Have a great time in the Netherlands!

  9. Karolyn Cooper says:

    Best line in this post is in the comments- nice stapler. I laughed. A lot.

  10. kathexpat says:

    Oh my goodness, Linda. This was fantastic to read! First of all, I’m so impressed that you have opened and own your own business! You are so brave 🙂

    Also, it seems that I may be Irish, after all…. I really saw myself in the Irish approach to life!

    • Expat Eye says:

      You can be honourary Irish for sure! Not sure about the brave thing but still lurching along from day to day anyway! But thanks! 😉

  11. Antuanete says:

    If you are looking for a small talk, you can always talk about weather in Latvia! And how horrible is the public transportation or roads 🙂
    Actually I don’t think that family and kids is acceptable small talk topic with person whom you see first or second time in your life. And then there use to be colleagues in offices who think they have rights to ask you about everything in your family life (and they give advices too!), so no wonder some people are getting upset at the moment anybody tries to small talk about personal matters.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I sort of see your point – at least about the ‘helpful’ advice part anyway! I just don’t really get why anyone would have a problem with somebody knowing that they’re married or if they have kids. Most people I’ve known are proud to talk about their families. I don’t really understand why someone wouldn’t want to talk about it! It’s not that personal – just general life stuff. And most people wear a ring anyway so it’s not like you’re revealing some big secret!

      • Antuanete says:

        Secret or not, family doesn’t have to do anything with persons whom you meet because of job 🙂 I guess people would accept some neutral topics as a starting point for small talk (like aforementioned weather, office equipment, flowers on table etc.) and then, if there is such a feeling, go into more personal topics as well. Or, if you will be talking about yourself and your private life, people may open up in response, but that really depends on personality!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Nice stapler 😉

      • Agnese says:

        Thanks for this post, very interesting. It happens that I’ve had quite some conversations about cultural differences regarding privacy and what Latvians do and don’t feel comfortable with. And that have made me think deeper than “that’s just cultural”. I have asked myself and other Latvians, why don’t we like to tell personal things to strangers and where does it come from. Few things I have found out:
        * Soviet times – back then you could trust nobody, so people still don’t. Or call it thinking in Mafia terms, if you want. The less people know about you, the less they can hurt/harm you. And it’s not that we are paranoid, just careful.
        * Complicated life stories – until you have a perfect family, you are proud to talk about it, but often it’s not the case. Lot of people are divorced, in complicated relationships, or maybe their family life is not a happy story, or maybe they are together with a same sex partner…whatever the story, not everyone feels ok with telling it.
        *Separation of work and private life – unless your colleagues are your friends or vice versa, a lot of people choose to separate those two worlds. And especially at work – sticking only to to work topics or general happenings in the world.

      • Expat Eye says:

        I can understand that. I’ve heard the Soviet thing before as well. I’m sure it takes a long time for that kind of attitude and way of life to change. I can also understand that family lives are very complicated these days – I think very few people are living the 2.4 children and white picket fence dream! I guess the work thing is just very different here – in Ireland most people tend to socialise with the people they work with as well – even if it’s just for a few drinks after work on a Friday evening. But I know that isn’t common here so it’s probably much easier to keep friends and colleagues separate.
        Thanks for your well-thought out reply! It’s people like you who give me more of an insight into the reasons for the differences between our two little countries! Linda. 🙂

  12. 1WriteWay says:

    I’ll be taking the Irish approach. High heels give me nose bleeds.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m glad there are more people like me out there! Sometimes I feel like I’m all alone here. But at least I can actually make some progress on the streets and don’t look like I’m in constant pain all the time!

  13. bevchen says:

    I think I prefer the Irish approach! High heels are overrated anyway…
    And the being EXACTLY on time thing applies to Germans too. Except my boyfriend, who is always late.

    • Expat Eye says:

      How very unGerman of him!! Yeah, I’m down with the Irish approach but I guess it’s what I’m used to – all very dull here. No socialising after work, no being invited anywhere, speedy business dinners… blah.

      • Lottie says:

        No socializing with colleagues? That’s too bad you didn’t get to meet the right colleagues. Nothing to do with being Latvian. Latvians at work actually do things together – have birthday parties at the office or outside it, go to salsa classes, meet up at one of the colleague’s place or just go bowling – it does happen but it depends on THE PEOPLE. There are countries where invited over to someone’s house or casual talks are pretty much impossible but Latvia is not that place. Reminds me of a time when a friendly old school teacher chatted me up in the tram, after a while also asked me personal questions and revealed a lot about herself (family, kids, work etc), and after 10 min we parted like friends. It’s all possible. But the more we try to look for differences the more we find them.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Hi again! I’m sure there are colleagues who socialise with each other – I still think it is more the exception than the rule though. I’ve taught at a lot of companies here and the majority of people just leave at the end of the day and go home to their families. The general attitude seems to be ‘why would I socialise with these people? They’re my colleagues and have nothing to do with my personal life.’ There’s a very strong divide between work and personal life here.

        As for your teacher, you say it like it’s the most incredible thing! Whenever I bump into any of my old teachers, they always stop for a chat and we talk like friends – it’s just showing interest in people!

  14. pollyheath says:

    Damn you’re brave for heading out there without a job! Interesting that Russia matches a lot of this, but definitely not the business deal — they’re absolutely Irish in that sense. No business deal complete without vodka!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Brave or stupid, I haven’t really decided which yet! I’ve heard that about the Russians – the more shots of vodka you can drink, the more trustworthy you are – interesting approach!! A Russian/Irish business meeting would get very messy very quickly!

  15. Dee Bee says:

    In terms of small talk, I feel like the English are very similar! At least here in London. Either it’s a reflection of living in a bit city, or it’s a cultural thing – I can’t decide which! But in my experience some Brits (upon first meeting them) can be a bit distrusting if you’re overly friendly or talkative. And if you so much as make eye contact with people on the tube or street, awkwardness is bound to ensue! Sometimes its nice to skip the small talk though, as it can be quite tedious :S

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’ve heard that about London alright! I’ve found that people are nice if you ask them something specific but don’t really engage in random chit chat. Which is fine first thing in the morning on the tube! Could be a big city thing, you’re right. Riga isn’t a big city though – it could fit in London’s pocket 🙂

  16. JC says:

    Ahahahahahahah and these are just peanuts stories 😀 compare to millions of them ………. a real Made in Latvia isn’t ? ahahahhahaha

  17. Aggie says:

    If someone ask about our privet life we don`t say “Are you after my husband???” we just make a point that our private life is realy private untill you will become more than someone I just met on the street. We are just protecting our privacy. And big city is big city. Go outside Riga to the small town there people are more way different. The same as in Ireland. In bigger cities people are protecting their private life but in smaller towns they now everything about everybody.

    • Expat Eye says:

      That did actually happen to me. I was doing a small talk/networking role play with a student and those were the exact words she said! Maybe small towns are different…

  18. Pecora Nera says:

    Very funny, 🙂 I also love the “are you after my husband”

    Flip flops everytime,..

    I don’t know how you cope, teaching English to Latvians, it would drive me mad.
    I agreed to teach a husband of one of Mrs Sensible’s friends. He was a hoot.. we always opened a bottle of wine at the start of a lesson, and made sure we finished it before the end. We would try and out do each other by providing an even better bottle than the day before. I taught him 5 nights a week for two months. Unfortunately he moved to Paris to start his new job 😦 so I had no excuse to consume a bottle of wine every night

    I also gave conversation lessons to a woman, who we shall call Mrs Paint Drying. So incredibly boring
    “So tell me about your trip to Milan”
    “It was good”
    “Ok did you go shopping, what did you buy”
    “Shoes”

    MRS SENSIBLE FETCH ME A GLASS OF GRAPPA!!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha ha, like blood from a stone! The first guy sounds fantastic though – I wish all students were like that! Although the wine consumption could get out of control… 😉 The standard Latvian answer to most things is interesting/not interesting. But the ‘interesting’ things are generally not very interesting either.

      • Pecora Nera says:

        Ha ha,
        I find I want to use a black marker pen and write THE on their foreheads, so that they remember to use it.

        Having said that, I am still learning Italian from kids books… 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        At least you’re trying! My Latvian books are still sitting under my table unopened! I don’t know if they ever will be! I like your idea with the marker – I wonder if tattooing the students would constitute psychological damage. I’ve heard that teachers can’t even use red pen in the UK any more in case it offends the little darlings sensitivities…

      • Pecora Nera says:

        miserable all day in 14 easy steps??

        My history teacher, used to chuck pieces of chalk at us and on occasions he was known to throw the blackboard rubber, although now it will be called the removing chalk instrument. 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha ha, you’re so old school. Chalk… 🙂

  19. livliveslife says:

    I love this post and your comparisons! You give such a good, humorous glimpse into both cultures. I have to say, based on this, I think I’d fit into the Irish Approach much more. 😉

  20. Kristin says:

    “Are you after my husband?” – too funny!
    We once had my dad’s cousin’s son (boy, that’s complicated!) from Latvia staying with us for 3 looong weeks. He clearly wasn’t into small talk either, thanks for pointing out it’s a Latvian thing, I thought it might have something to do with us. It would haven been easier to train my dog how to tap dance than get a word out of that guy… However, he loved to answer the phone which he did with a “Hullooo” (with a throaty H) . Of course, he never understood what the other person then said and just handed us the phone. I haven’t invited him over to Mexico yet.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Oh my god, that tap-dancing dog comment made my morning! Fabulous analogy! It takes a while before you learn not to take it personally. I persevere though – I’ve broken most of my students 😉 Wouldn’t bother with that invite…

  21. I quite like the no small talk thing…. but heels, no way. Ever. Couldn’t even stand up in them.

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