Mexican cultural differences
After staying in Mexico for a week, I have noticed some key notable cultural differences. While I may not be able to list down all the differences, this post will tell you some differences that you may find them interesting.
First, lunch is a big important meal in Mexico. Lunch usually starts around 1 p.m. and it can last as long as two hours. It is not unusual for three generations of family gather together for a normal lunch. For this reason, I probably have to adjust my lunch schedule and eat some snacks before hand, since I usually get hungry around 11 a.m.
Second, punctuality is not expected in most parts of Mexico. Often times, a 30 minute delay in meetings or social parties is expected. However, strict time will be adhered for occasions such as movie show times and flights etc. Though, parts of Mexico such as Monterrey is pretty strict with time.
Greetings: When greeting someone for the first time, it is usually customary to greet them with a handshake. However, once you get to know the person or you have already established communication, then a kiss on the cheek for the opposite gender is usual. For males, greetings can come with a hug and a handshake.
In a business setting, when you greet someone who is a professional, it is usually customary to address them with their profession first, and then follow by their last name. For example: You will greet someone with Doctor Shew, Lawyer Shew, Accountant Shew etc. In Spanish, you will say Licenciado Shew - Licenciado means someone with a business degree.
As with traveling to any countries, it is always good to be caution of the security in a country. In Mexico, it is important to be careful with pickpockets in busy cities and to withdraw money from an ATM only in safe places. In the past, I was told about a scam where scammers would ask people to fill out a questionnaire before watching a movie in a theatre. The questionnaire asks the person for personal information and the scammer takes a picture of the person for "lottery" purpose. When the person goes inside the theatre to watch a movie, the scammer will immediately call the family and claim that they have kidnapped the person. They solify their claim by showing them the picture that they took. This scam was once referred as "express kidnapping".
If someone asks you a question, and you want to say no, you should not directly express it. In Mexico, saying no to people is rude and therefore the correct response is always be "I'll think about it", "let me check my calendar", or "I'll get back to you." This is the polite way of rejecting an offer.
I just need to keep in mind of these cultural differences and the security precaution.