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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Pretoria, South Africa


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?


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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 speack english but Pretoria is mostly Afrikaans. I didn't learn it.

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


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

We have lived for 20 years in different countries in Adfrica. Coming to South Africa was the worst cultural shock I ever had. I wasn't prepared to face the after effect a=of appartheit.

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?

I have never settle in the culture. (7 years now). I still get very irritable about the way people interact here. I guess I never left the rejection stage!

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 went through a deep depression. But recovered and looked at other things that South Africa could give me (beside the normal socialisation and cross cultural exchange that I could in the other countries). I did some training and re-opened my art studio.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?


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

Keep on being curious. And if there is no fit for you in the culture, look around and find other fits somwhere else.

AGS Worldwide Movers

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Comments about this Report

Nov 18, 2010 07:52

Even as a returning South African (I was out of the country for 13 years) I experienced culture shock. However, since I left during Apartheid and returned to the "New South Africa", a lot of positive change was apparent. But the underlying effects of the Apartheid era are still engrained into the way that people interact (particularly the older generation). Afrikaners still cling to the beliefs of the Nationalist Party and interacting with them is always harder. Pretoria definitely does take a lot more adjustment if you are not accustomed to racial segregation. I did however travel through a lot of the southern states of the USA so was always reminded of the effects of racism. I moved to New York for seven years and have to say that it was the most pleasant experience in terms of cultural exchange and racial tolerance. South Africa still has a long way to go to reach that level of positive cultural and racial interactions.

Jul 11, 2012 13:22

I can honestly say that as a South African, I'd lived in the Johannesburg area and worked in Pretoria in the 1980's We left and moved to Cape Town and went back to Pretoria and JHB for a visit in 2009 - first time in nearly 30 years. A culture shock was an understatement - we found it to be an alien world full of tension ........ and racism was rife - from all the colour spectrums. The Western Cape was found to be far more laid back and cosmopolitan.........

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