As I’m sure you have all realized from my other posts, there are a lot of things that are very different when moving to the mainland. Something that I continuously struggle with is when I greet someone for the first time, or for the millionth time. When I’m home in Hawaii the answer is easy. You hug! But it’s not that easy here. When I got here I had to adjust to shaking hands with most people. I must admit, sometimes I still go in for a hug when meeting someone for the first time only to have them stick their hand out for a hand shake. I feel like I’m falling over myself as I try to stop midway to the hug I was going for. I don’t know how they feel, but I feel awkward.
There are multiple factors that go into how you greet someone in the mainland. For example, how long you’ve known them and what your relationship is to them. Are you gonna hug both your friend and their boyfriend/girlfriend when you see them? Probably not. The first time you meet your friends parents do you hug them or shake their hand? Well, that probably depends on the people. There comes a time that you know who it is that likes to receive your hugs, and who doesn’t.
These are not things you have to worry about in Hawaii. It’s pretty automatic, especially as a girl, that you’ll hug and/or kiss everyone on the cheek. (Disclaimer: when I say kiss I don’t mean “kiss” kiss. It’s more like touching cheeks.) After getting home from my first semester at college I walked into the restaurant where I had worked and received hugs, and some kisses, from almost everyone I worked with. I had almost forgotten what it was like greeting people in Hawaii! I realized how much I missed it. Greeting people like that makes you feel so welcome. Like you’re around family all the time.
Maybe some day I will learn exactly what’s appropriate with who, or in other words who to hug or not. But for now I still have to ask myself every time I meet another person, “Should I hug them?” Now a days I’ll generally just follow the other person lead. But I still have those awkward “almost falling into them as they put their hand out” moments. Perhaps I always will.