How Many Times Will I Embarrass Myself Before I Notice?


So one of the fun parts of living in another country is that you get really really used to

-being confused


-asking for help

-realising you asked a really stupid question

-embarrassing yourself unknowingly

There are so many little cultural differences that it is impossible to read up on them all beforehand. The result is that you end up doing things a little bit differently than those around you. Sometimes you do things that you don’t realise are inappropriate or just plain strange to the people around you. For example:

The other day I was sitting in lecture hall with a couple classmates. I pulled out my pencil and prepared to take notes. My good friend commented:

“Susanna… why do you always use a pencil? It is kind of awkward.”

“Whaaaat?” I was confused. As per usual. Pencils are my friends, especially mechanical ones. I looked back at my friend and silently urged her to give further explanation.

She went on to explain that in the UK they are given a pen in primary school whenever their handwriting has reached a certain standard, usually around the equivalent of 4th grade. After that, they never use pencils again, they aren’t allowed.

I turned to the classmate on the other side of me.

“So you never use pencils anymore? They are for kids… like crayons?”

“Yeah, I still remember the moment I got my first pen.”She let out a reminiscent smile. Wow. Apparently it is kind of a big deal.

I casually scanned the room and realised that of the 100+ students in the lecture hall, I was literally the only one using a pencil. No wonder my seat mate was uncomfortable.

So it was that I learned that using a pen is an ashamed practice here. Do you want to know another secret? I still use pencils anyway.

Author: Susanna

I'm Susanna, a 20-year-old Christian girl incorrigibly addicted spontaneous adventures. My first dream was to become a pioneer. Unfortunately, I was born a couple centuries late, so I've decided to read, cook, run, and travel the world until my time machine is finished. You'll mostly likely find me getting into trouble and/or eating licorice. I am currently blogging the misadventures of a middle-school teacher in training. Come join me on my quest to become the next Ms. Frizzle!

7 thoughts on “How Many Times Will I Embarrass Myself Before I Notice?”

  1. PENCILS FOR THE WIN!! When I was in fourthish grade, they handed me a pen, and said here you go. I was excited. Then they said, oh yeah, only three crossouts per page. Do you know how many tears that rule caused me? How many full pages were almost completely written when I reached that fourth mistake? Just NO. Pencils are awesome because they let you make mistakes and dispose of them NEATLY. Pencils let you LIVE. So obviously, I totally agree! Pencils for the win! (Plus my penmanship isn’t good enough to merit a pen 😉 ) Loved this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you! Pencils (and erasers) are my BEST FRIENDS. They allow me to be creative and try crazy (and sometimes stupid) things without holding anything back. I love my pencils. I won’t give them up for anybody.


  2. This is so interesting!! I prefer to use a pen anyway, just because I feel like it makes my messy handwriting a little neater (??) but I had no idea it was some standard of excellence or anything! You rock those pencils! :p


  3. Oh, gosh! That’s kind of hilarious! I had no idea that there is a “WRITE of passage” with using only using a pen. That’s interesting… Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    I understand your misunderstandings when it comes to living in a different culture. My family & I moved from Texas to Kenya for 6 months as missionaries. There are SO MANY differences when it comes to manners & customs!

    I’ll never forget how one day, my mother and I went to the little market/store in the town & happened to see one of our Kenyan friends walking down the same aisle. We waved, said ‘hi’, asked how he was doing, and were ready to leave so we could finish shopping. But as we were walking away, I noticed that his smile had disappeared & all of the other people in the store began to stare at us. O-o

    I pointed it out to my mom, so we went back to him and tried to talk with him some more & finally just asked if we were rude just then. (He was so polite, he would never say one way or the other! But later on we found that is in only good manners to stay & talk with your friends when you see them out in public. Apparently there is a list of appropriate questions you must ask/answer, and only after exchanging these Q’s&A’s, you can continue shopping.)

    Yeah… Not our finest moment, but we tried! XD

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, that’s crazy! Pencils are awesome! I personally don’t use them because (and I know it’s really weird of me) I like how pens look on a page better. Good for you for still using a pen, though. Thanks for sharing your awesome stories!


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