Going Dutch with foreigners
July 31, 2006 6:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm an American hosting a couple of guests from Greek Cyprus for whom I am doing professional (scientific) training. We may go out to dinner on one of those nights. Will "going Dutch" be nothing unusual to them? Or being from a Mediterranean culture where friends become extended family, might they expect one of us (me or them) to pick up the entire tab? Granted I am the host and can do what I want, but I'm still interested in what they'll expect.
posted by rolypolyman to Society & Culture (11 answers total)
I would venture the guess that they would be offended by going Dutch and that it would seem very unusual to them.

Having spent a lot of time with people of similar cultures, I can say this with certainty.

Also, you probably also want to factor in that, in general, Americans make a lot more money than people in Cyprus do.

But rolypolyman, it would be helpful to know how long they'll be with you.
posted by k8t at 6:30 PM on July 31, 2006

I don't know if this is a Greek/Mediterranean thing, but when I visited there I didn't pay for any "hosted" meals, not even when dining out. I guess the thing is to be willing and prepared to pay for the night out. I believe that would be acting as a gracious host. Then work it out from there, because they will most likely want to contribute.

Don't forget the 3 times rule. If they offer three times, you must accept. I hope you all have fun.
posted by snsranch at 6:39 PM on July 31, 2006

My pet Greek says it's more than likely that your friends will insist on paying, it's a matter of honor because you're hosting them. But Dutch is perfectly OK, too.
posted by evariste at 6:41 PM on July 31, 2006

Response by poster: k8t - just a few days

On preview, great replies so far -- I think I just may yet avoid a faux pas!
posted by rolypolyman at 6:46 PM on July 31, 2006

Especially if it is just a few days, always assume you will pay. Maybe on the last night, they'll offer, but I wouldn't count on it.

Sorry, but it is cultural. They would certainly never allow you to pay when visiting them.
posted by k8t at 7:02 PM on July 31, 2006

All my large Greek family, and Greek family friends get into arguments with each other over who is going to pay (the kind where they all demand to). I'd assume I was paying, but expect to have them demand to pay for it at least some of the time. In the end, I'd wager it would work itself out to roughly the same as if you had just gone dutch the whole time.

This is based on people that are of a closer nature though so it might not really apply here.
posted by teishu at 11:21 PM on July 31, 2006

Upon reading it closer and seeing that its only one night, my prediction is that unless you don't get along over the days preceding it, when you go out, you'll offer to pay, and they will argue with you until you let them pay.
posted by teishu at 11:23 PM on July 31, 2006

I consulted a Greek-Cypriot friend who says:

"Usually when friends/coworkers go out, they do go dutch. If we are talking about the same people going out every week then they may choose to pay in turns.

For work situations like that one though I suppose it depends on whether the company is paying – usually they would expect the guy to pick up the tab if he would charge it on the company – they wouldn’t expect him to pay out of his own pocket.

Saying this, here we may pay (out of our own pocket) when taking out a guest for the first time I suppose. But not always."

So ... still a little inconclusive.

If it were me, I'd find one of the party that I felt I got on with particularly well, take them aside and ask them quietly what was expected of me.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:12 AM on August 1, 2006

Since this sounds like a mostly professional deal, I don't think you will offend them by going Dutch, especially if they're younger. If more like part of a long term friendship and collaboration then you should absolutely insist on paying for it over their objections. It might depend on whether or not you will ever meet their family.

As one American to another, if you're hosting and there's only going to be only one night where you all go out to dinner, I think you should pick up the whole bill regardless of the nationality of your guests.
posted by fleacircus at 2:02 AM on August 1, 2006

I live in Greece (though I'm not Greek), and I would be really surprised if they didn't insist on paying, or at least going Dutch (especially if you mean by "hosting" that they are staying with you).

At any rate, my good advice here is that if they do absolutely insist on paying, that you should absolutely insist on at least paying the tip, because unless they are well-travelled, or have received advice about this, they may leave no tip, or way too little. Or if you want to sidestep dealing with the tip thing, just make sure you go to a place where they will include it in the total bill.
posted by taz at 2:51 AM on August 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:52 AM on August 1, 2006

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