I was outside of Spanish class, waiting patiently for my teacher. I looked around, I didn’t see any familiar faces, after all, I had only been there for 2 weeks, absolutely nothing looked familiar. Then I saw him, Patrick, he walked swiftly down the hall, I caught his gaze, I smiled, happy to see someone familiar. He began to get closer, and then closer, a little too close. I backed up, my North American Spidey senses were going off, my buffer zone was being compromised. I back up to the corner, literally putting myself in the corner, I couldn’t go anywhere, I backed up so hard and so fast that I hit my head against the cool cement wall with a thud.
Patrick looked at me, at first puzzled, then smiled and laughed, reached over and grabbed my shoulders. He leaned in and said “listen, it is customary to great people you know with a kiss on the cheek, I am going to kiss you now, relax, you are going to have to get used to it.”
He bent down, gave me a quick kiss on the cheek with no other contact. Then he laughed, he said “Man, you should have seen your face, I wish I had a camera on me, classic.”
When I finally stopped hyperventilating. He kindly explained that in this fun-loving country, hugging is not something you do, but giving a quick peck on the cheek to your friends is a custom. Boys greet girls this way, as girls greet boys and girls this way. Boys tend to give an arm hug.
So, it was at that point I realized that my buffer zone which I had carefully and in the most paranoid way had created, had crumbled. In about a week after the kiss incident, which Patrick still reminds me of to this day, I kissed everyone like I was a local.