Here are some idioms that can be used to talk about cross cultural experiences:
an eye opener / a fish out of water / get along / break the ice / put your food in it / see eye to eye / be in hot water
In this part of the lesson, person B rephrases what person A says using an idiom. Try to understand the meaning from the context.
A: I guess you learned a lot when you travelled in Africa, didn’t you?
B: Yes, it was a real eye opener.
A: In Mozambique, did you feel uncomfortable because everything was unfamiliar?
B: Yes, I was like a fish out of water.
A: Did you have a good relationship with everyone at the conference?
B: Yes, we all got along.
A: Was it easy to make the atmosphere relaxed when you first arrived at the meeting?
B: Yes, I broke the ice with a few jokes.
A: Did you embarrass yourself by making any cultural mistakes?
B: Yes, I put my foot in it when I said “goodbye” instead of “hello” in French.
A: Did you and your counterpart agree on all of the issues?
B: Yes, we saw eye to eye on everything.
A: Did you get into any trouble during the trip?
B: Yes, I was in hot water when I lost my passport.
A: I heard you felt like the boss put you in a very difficult situation?
B: Yes, I was thrown in the deep end when he sent me to that meeting.
Now, have a look at the following dialog. Jim and Jack are co-workers. Jack just returned from a business trip abroad.
Jim: Hi Jack. How was your business trip to Tokyo?
Jack: It was a real eye opener. I have never experienced that kind of negotiation style before.
Jim: I guess you felt like a fish out of water. I did too my first time in Japan. Was it easy to get along
Jack: Yes, of course. But at first, I was nervous when I tried to break the ice. I tried to use the basic Japanese greeting I learned in my language class, but I put my foot in it when I mistakenly said “thanks for your time” instead of “nice to meet you”!
Jim: I’ve had a similar experience. It’s a little embarrassing.
Jack: My customer was nice, and we laughed about it.
Jim: So, how did the meeting go?
Jack: I think we saw eye to eye on most of the major issues during the meeting. I wasn’t able to get them to sign the contract though, so I am in a bit of hot water with the boss. I feel like I was thrown in the deep end trying to get this contract signed.
We use an eye opener to describe a situation that has an impact on us because it is new or different. You can feel like a fish out of water when you are in a situation that is either new or uncomfortable for you. When you get along with someone, you have a good relationship with them. When you first meet someone, or first arrive at a party, sometimes nobody is talking. In that situation, you can break the ice, or start the conversation going by telling a joke or making small talk. When you do something embarrassing or awkward, we say that you put your foot in it. When you see eye to eye with someone, you agree with them completely. We say you are in hot water when you have done something to get yourself in trouble. If you are thrown in the deep end, it means you are put in a very difficult situation.
Thanks for studying with me today! I hope you enjoyed this lesson!