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Hanging out with Americans (who have only recently arrived) reminds me of what subtle yet major cultural difference we have.

In the US, if you are at someone’s house and they offer you something to drink (coffee, tea, water, etc.), it is considered rude to accept their offer. The offer was made out of politeness but didn’t have real intention of making anything behind it. The exception to this is if your host is already eating or drinking something and it doesn’t look like it will create any extra work for them to pour your a glass of whatever they’re drinking.

In Israel, if you go to someone’s house and they offer your something to drink, it considered rude not to accept the offer. Israelis want to make you feel comfortable in their home and making you a quick cup of coffee or tea does that for them. They really don’t like it when you sit in their living room with nothing to eat or drink.

Last night, Stanley came back to my apartment for an hour before he had to go. I offered him tea or coffee no less than 4 times. He turned it down every time. Then finally, I said that I was going to make it for myself and was he sure that he didn’t want anything. Then and only then did he finally agree to let me make him a cup of tea.

Now, he drank it really fast. He obviously wanted it. Why not just take the damn tea on the first offering? Why go through these social gymnastics and potentially never get the simple cup of tea you actually wanted from the beginning?

I really am forgetting how to speak American, aren’t I?

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