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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Budapest, Hungary

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What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Budapest

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

No.

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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?

Little bit. Decided not to learn Hungarian but Mandarin instead as it has the same level of difficulty but is for more useful later in life.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

Slightly. I knew the country from visiting as a child.

How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

The culture shock came later once I felt at home and started to expect Dutch efficiency and diligence at work...

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?

Yes, but I skipped the honeymoon phase.

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.

Frustration, un-healthy life style (difficult to get low-fat food).

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

Family values, being able to patiently stand in cue, that man and women still can be man and women (as opposed to Dutch culture where everybody is almost forced to be the same), clean streets and well behaved.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Corruption, decades of communist rule have influenced the work ethos, the way the government let's the country run into deeper trouble, lack of truly free press and objective reporting, shady party financing, increase in extreme right and hate for foreigners.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

Actually none that I am aware of, it was more a reverse shock when I started getting involved in the Dutch expat community: the fact that I dared take the metro in this extremely dangerous city (ahum)... sorry...

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Be prepared read about the other country, learn the language, go with the flow, have discipline to keep what is good about your own culture, do not immerse yourself fully in your own expat community (these people tend to be slightly sad and self-important and not in touch with the local reality.

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