Photo: DoisneauThere is one thing that keeps causing me embarrassment and blushing cheeks, that has done so since I first came to England; greeting people. As a Norwegian I am used to simply shaking hands, exchanging slightly awkward smiles and a "Nice to meet you", and only if you're meeting an old friend or family do you give them a big hug. The distinction between who you hug and who you don't is usually pretty clear, and in a very Norwegian way (some may disagree with me here) I like to keep my distance to strangers.
Here in England there is no way of predicting how people will greet you. You would expect, shy and polite as the English are meant to be, that they would simply shake your hand with a "How do you do?" or a "How very lovely to meet you, darling". But no. Some English people will stick to shaking hands, whereas others will kiss you on the cheek- even the first time you meet them. And even worse, some will kiss you on both cheeks, which means that there's an awkward moment of "now that (s)he has kissed me on one cheek, is (s)he going to kiss me on the other?" and "should I pull back or lean forward for another kiss?" which could easily lead to an awkward kiss in unexpected places. And lots of blushing, too. Also, there are few things that as embarrassing as kissing someone who was intending to shake your hand. The English get very awkward about that. How embarrassing to not know how to greet people in a proper way!
I wish someone would have given me a leaflet on this topic when I came to study here. It would have made my life a lot less embarrassing. And why can't we all stick to shaking hands anyway?