Most people have heard of jet lag. It’s when you’ve just arrived overseas, you’re exhausted from your travels, but you’re wide awake at 3am because your body thinks that’s morning time. Or alternatively, you’re falling asleep at 12 noon, but trying to eat lunch at the same time…you can imagine the hilarious possibilities!!
But this is not the only time issue you may face when in a different country. For one thing, the concept of time is definitely not the same around the world. Some societies think in a linear mode…hence the word “timeline.” Others think time is circular…hence concepts like reincarnation.
Different understandings of time also have practical impacts. For example, when I was in Greece, it was not unusual for people to show up to meetings an hour late. Projects tend to be finished at the last minute (that caused all the concern for the 2004 Olympics). For the most part, I’m the type of person who likes plans and sticking to them. By the end of my trip I had learned to dislike the word “flexible”, and it still strikes a nerve when I hear it.
On the other hand, when I was in Germany, if you were on time you were late. A lot of people had 5 year plans for their work, holidays, studies etc. All public transport was also on time. This caused me some frustration when I came back to Oz, where meetings and buses/trains are often 5-10 minutes late…I know it sounds anal, but it was just what I had become accustomed to.
So not only are you dealing with jet lag, you could end up being considered late or early for your meetings. The point? Do some research 🙂