My manners are impeccable. No really, they are. I know better than to eat with my hands when cutlery is available, I don’t shout at the top of my lungs to get my point across, and I’m considerate of others. I’m also – as I’m sure you can by now tell – extremely humble.
All jokes aside though, when you’re exposed to different situations and people, you tend to pick up on a lot. What works in one culture will never fly in another. Both Hungarians and Finns (like everyone else for that matter) will want to make you comfortable. But while Hungarians are more likely to engage you in conversation for that purpose, Finns will be more likely to leave you alone. Both will find the other party’s behavior alien. For the most part I’m fine navigating. Where I mess up, I can always wind my way out of it by reminding the other person gently that I’m not from these parts. I already eat with my fork in my right hand, and I’ve only come across one other person who does the same. So there’s potential for conflict there, but no one’s ever said anything. For the most part though I adapt.
Where I always mess up though is when I introduce myself to Hungarians in social settings. Hungarians give their full name, family first, then their first name. That’s not the problem. The problem is, I always forget to do it and just provide my first name. I claim French-American habits in that case, but the truth is, I might be wrong about that. And even though I always try to remind myself of stating both names, I always just use my first name. Ironically, when I do remember (usually in a business / official setting), I announce my very French-sounding name in the Hungarian manner, last name first, then my full first name as it’s written in my passport.
It’s funny more than embarrassing or even annoying. If memory serves, the last time I lived here, it took me over a year to adapt to that. And that’s over a year living here, and not counting the frequent visits I’d undertaken the years before.
One day I’m sure I’ll do it automatically again, but until then I’m (almost) tempted to bet myself to see how long it’ll take.