What’s your story?

What is your storyDo 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?


One thought on “What’s your story?

  1. I am also living in Germany, in a smaller city called Wiesbaden. Whenever I go home (Portugal) even some family members ask me stuff like: prices in the supermarket, if I manage to find some special portuguese products, or simply: how does it look a normal Weekend like, what do you do? I confess that I get often a bit bitter because this kind of questions are fine for small talk, and I would, in that case, answer them with pleasure. They are just not anymore so fine for people that know me since ever and since around 3 years (since I am in Germany) ask me stuff that could have been asked if I was here since a couple of months, and not constantly the same questions, every time we are visiting. I would like sometimes to have different conversations with my family, when I am home (in Portugal).

    A question that I like to ask when I meet somebody living abroad is: do you love your city? Because I was only able to love a city in my life (until now) and that city is Lisbon where I lived for some years, sometime ago. The city where I come from is nice, confortable and sweet but I do not thing I love it.
    Or if you thing love is too strong: do you like to live in your city? Would you like to stay there longer? If the answer is: naja, it is a confortable place, it has quite some culture available… then you know that it is probably not a city to love. 🙂


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