In Friday’s class we studied about proxemics and kinesics, which I found to be very interesting. I understood that there were patterns in social interaction depending on space and body language, but I didn’t know it had a name. Proxemics is the study of communication that occurs through using the space around you while kinesics is the study of body language, or how we communicate through our body movements, positions, and facial expressions. I have been thinking about this all weekend, especially in regards to the area I will be in. I have noticed that I am very free with my space and I have no problem letting people in close, but I am always hesitant to lean in to hug a stranger or have any other form of contact with someone I don’t know well because I don’t know how they feel about their own personal space. I thought I would have a good understanding of what the practices regarding proxemics and kinesics are in Mexico by now, but I can’t say I’m sure about that anymore.
How will the people greet me when I get there? A handshake? The customary kiss on the cheek? (Is that even customary where I will be going?) Will my host family and the new friends I make mind if I hang around them or will they like me to give them space? When I think about all the possible awkward situations I could come across, I become a little overwhelmed. And then I think about how lucky I am to be going to my dad’s home state. I have two parents from Mexico, and one of them was raised in a town just like the one I will spend my summer in. I have noticed that there are big differences in manners of communication between my mom’s family and my dad’s family. My mom is from Mexico City and her family is pretty free with their space and they are more bubbly in their personalities. My dad is from a small village in Guanajuato and I have noticed that they tend to be more reserved and shy. They do greet me with a kiss on the cheek, but I don’t see much physical contact apart from that.
I can’t seem to think of all the examples to display the differences in their proxemics and kinesics, but maybe I know enough to not let awkward situations get the best of me. Now that I’m more aware of these studies, I hope to practice communicating more effectively with others so that when I get to Mexico, I will know how to adapt to situations where someone’s communication habits differ from mine.