Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Alexandria, Egypt
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?
Yes. My principal talked to us about the differences we would encounter, as this was a first overseas post for most of us.
Moving to Egypt soon?
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 knew none of the language before I arrived. I found taxi words and food words to be the most helpful (stop here, wait for me, straight ahead, left, right, milk, no meat, etc.)
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
I wasn't worried, but the smell scared me when I first landed.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Being my first time abroad, I didn't know what to expect. I was lonely for home, but I don't feel that I experienced severe culture shock. It was a bit more difficult as a single woman. I got a lot of attention from the men, and goosed by some boys on the subway (ladies... DON'T take the subway!)
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 guess I did a bit. Keeping a sense of humor helps a great deal.
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 did find myself getting irritated/frustrated with things when they didn't work properly or the taxi driver seemed to not be able to find one of the most popular spots in town.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
Sense of safety. Kindness of Egyptians.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Very dirty, smelly, busy, noisy place. Nothing is the way you would expect it to be, and it's difficult to get many things done.
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