An African’s Guide to Interacting with Wazungu!

I invite you my friends to contribute to this resource. How to meet and discuss with Europeans!

I hope it becomes a useful resource for all those planning to travel and stay with Europeans.

Topics covered include

food and feeding habits

1. Serve only a few types of food on your plate at a buffet. You can go back for more as many times as you want. This is unlike here in Africa where we serve all kinds of  food on the plate at once and never go for second or third round.

2. A Pizza in Norway is recognised as a real meal such as dinner, not a snack!  So partake of it knowing it’s the real meal.

3. Lunch is served around 11.30, and dinners are usually before 7.00pm. Don’t expect dinner at 10.00pm. Breakfast is usually the heaviest meal of the day.


1. Don’t be surprised if the European can’t recognise you immediately. They have as much trouble telling us apart from each other as we do telling the Chinese apart.

2.  Allow time for him or her to make a point. Norwegians who are not used to speaking English will need some time to find the right words. Desist from trying to fill in the words for them. This puts him or her on pressure. Relax and let the conversation flow at that pace. Eventually, he or she will feel comfortable enough to converse without trying to get the “right” word.

3 Accent. Speak naturally. Don’t try to exaggerate your accent or gestures. Soon these exaggerations become detractors rather than aids to effective communication.

4. Dignity. Be respectful but firm. Don’t be forced to do things that  compromise your dignity. When in situations such as those, politely decline to participate.

5. Controversial topics. You have a right to reserve an opinion. When you judge that your opinion is way off or too strong, you may politely indicate that you would prefer not to share your opinions or discuss the topic. You may steer the discussion to another topic.

6. Europeans genuinely want to know what you think about issues they read about in your country. They want to know your perspectives  on issues and have built up stereotypes from media. Feel free to share your opinions and to correct misconceptions.

7. Observe carefully how they operate domestic appliances that your are not familiar with such as dish washers, washing machines etc, and seek assistance if you are not sure how to operate them before you ruin the system. Nonetheless, take your time.


– Greeting

1. Handshake.  It is okay to shake hands. However, most European don’t shake hands the African way which is a 3 step affair. They normally shake once and release the palm. Don’t be surprised.


Dressing for the cold.

1. Remove all overcoats and head gear when you get indoors, even though you still feel cold. Eventually you get used. The logic behind this is that if you remain with your warm clothing, you will have no additional cover when you get back outdoor so you will, feel even colder.

2. Use many layers of clothing, preferably woollen as opposed to using one big jacket. Layers of cloths trap air between them and are a more effective insulator against the cold.

3. I know  this sounds weird to men, but you have to put on skin-tights under your trousers. Otherwise, you will feel very cold.

4. Never ignore your gloves. It is tempting to leave these behind when you feel a little warmer but the fingers can so easily feel cold.





  1. Tip on being yourself
    Fact one, we come from the developing world. Fact two, we are visiting a super developed country. Fact three, not everyone is poor in our home countries. Fact four, not everyone is rich in the developed country you are visiting. And Fact five, NO ONE has a perfect life.

    So, be yourself. Be proud of where you come from. Do not feel the need to apologize for having never experienced the things that you are experiencing while on exchange. Enjoy the plane ride (especially if it is your first), make new friends with gusto, share yourself with others and allow others to share themselves with you. And when it is time to go home, do so with a big smile on your face knowing that what you have just had the experience of a lifetime.

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Kalema Golooba Ayub