Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?
No,I received no training at all. I did it on my own, head first.
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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?
I speak Spanish now, but I learned since living in Mexico...not before.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
No, I tried to deal with things one day at a time, but yes, there are still culture issues even after 16+ years.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
It was pretty bad at the time, I mean, I threatened myself to move elsewhere (although not return)quite a few times.
Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?
Sure, I went through ALL of those phases and I thought each stage (after the first one) would never end.
What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.
I think I experienced prolonged stages of frustration more than anything. Maybe anxiety came and went often. I drank more than before. Strange, I never had homesickness because I was sure I was leaving permanently.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
I appreciate that I've learned to have a lot more patience most and also to live more in the moment, instead of planning everything. We can't assure tomorrow will be here, so we should live more for today...which is something so many people forget to do.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Ha! this is easy. The most challenging aspects are adapting to the mentality (you have to literally dumb down to fit into society, for the most part). I have to be more flexible about time too.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
Of course! I remember once I was looking for a pair of tennis shoes. When I entered the store, a kind (very) young man tried to help me and since I was used to using socks to try on tennis shoes, I blurted out (in Spanish) that I forgot my underwear (instead of socks) since they didn't have any for me to use. The look on his face was priceless and I haven't stopped laughing since. I bought a pair of shoes there, but avoided that street ever since. p.s. Socks in Spanish is "calcetin" and underwear is "calzones" so I always confused the words.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Well, I think once you get over it, you realize that it's something normal and it helps you to remember that for future trips and experiences living abroad. If you're on their turf, you can't begin to try to change them or say what's "right" and "wrong". You live with it and do your best to adapt.
More Expat Advice about Culture Shock in Mexico