Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Atlanta, United States

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

Atlanta

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

No because I spent 3 years in New York before

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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?

Yes, English is the language for business and I learned at school but mainly after I started working abroad

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

No because I thought that I had great experience in NYC

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

I always lived in big international cities like Paris, London, Tokyo, New York without any problem but Atlanta is not a city so I felt really isolated, could not communicate the same way I did when I was in New York. I was also used to public transportation so I was really scarred by the huge trucks driving on highways having 4-5 lanes

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 the honey moon lasted 3 months, then irritation-anger another 6 months and then really enjoyed the last 24 months.

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.

Anxiety when taking highways. I did not like the house, felt unsecured so we moved again after 6 months to a much better area.

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

Atlanta is a small city with big green suburbs. People are friendly, more relaxed than in NYC. I enjoyed having a big house in a small private community, it is very green. I enjoyed the parks, lakes and mountains. The weather was great, I love the heat so was happy in "Hotlanta". A lot of outdoor activities and summer camps for kids. Very active support groups for small business owners and women's group.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Difficulty to share experience with local people

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

Even if you are a serial expat like me being abroad for 20 years, you may experiment at any time culture shock. For me it was a shock to discover that the mentality and lifestyle were totally different in New York and in Georgia.

Be prepared before you leave by contacting people who share same interests and who are already establish in your new location. Use social media to ask advices and establish a virtual network so it will be easier to meet people in person once you arrive there.

Take enough time to choose your house and neighborhood, if possible by living in a flat hotel before your stuff arrive. If you can't then contact other expats living there to know what to expect, if rental is better than buying, prices, best locations, traffic, best school districts.

If you have kids, try to volunteer at school, you will meet great people.

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