Intercultural friendship is a great way to learn about another culture and share about one’s own and is, therefore, a natural way to build cultural bridges. But if and when the friendship deepens, and is sustained, undoubtedly there will be confusion and misunderstandings that arise from time to time. All friendships experience those, but friendships across cultures are unique in that often the individuals in those relationships have very different views about what it means to be a friend. That results in different expectations, norms, responsibilities and obligations involved in the friendship. Those are not always apparent at first, nor is the fact that the two friends are operating from different norms, but eventually this will become clear.
For example, in some cultures it is perfectly normal for friends to ask one another how much they paid for their home, their earrings, or to inquire about their salary. In others, that is completely taboo. In some cultures, friendship carries very serious obligations, in terms of helping one’s friend out no matter what. A friend may pick up the phone and ask to borrow thousands of dollars or to open one’s house for the friend to come and live for months on end. In some cultures, going out on a date is practically a marriage proposal whereas in others it is merely the first step of a courtship which may (or may not) lead to marriage.