Do you remember this post on small talk? I just saw a little video on different ways of starting small talk in different states in the US (you can also read about it here if you don’t want to watch the video), and I was amazed by how some people start small talk (“What is your mother’s maiden name?”!!!!)
When you meet someone in a party, a safe bet is always to talk about how you know the host off course. Despite that, I feel that when conversations happen with people I don’t know, the question I am always asked is “Where are you from?”.Which is fine, I guess.
When I am in Portugal, a normal conversation starter is “So you live in Berlin now? How is it?”. Most times I wish people wouldn’t just ask open-ended questions like that, I feel someone who asks that is doing it just for being polite and not because they are really interested in my life in Berlin. I mean, seriously, “How is it?”??!!! What am I expected to answer??? “Nice, thank you.”?
So here is an alternative list of questions to start a conversation with someone you know is living abroad:
- Are there any typical foods?
- How do people shop for food (big supermarkets on the suburbs/ weekly markets/ local supermarkets)?
- What is the most famous TV show?
- How is the traffic in Berlin? Do people drive/cycle a lot?
- Do people go out eating/drinking/partying a lot?
- Is it true that _______________ (fill in with any funny stereotype, not serious stuff, for example: Is it true Berliners spend their summer with socks and sandals?)
- What is your favourite monument to visit? Are monuments free to visit?
- Do you go to the cinema a lot? Are the films doubled everywhere?
- Do you go to the theatre/opera/exhibitions? How are the prices and the quality?
- Do you feel you are in a big city? Is it busy? Is it noisy?
- What are your three favourite things about living in Berlin? And the least three favourite things?
Are you living abroad? Would you add any questions to this list?