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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Nanchang, China


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 did some research on the Internet, though.

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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?

No, I didn't speak Chinese and I only learnt some useful phrases before leaving my country.

I took some Chinese lessons in China but the teaching methodology is really monotonous. I soon got bored and did some self-training.

Don't try to learn written Chinese. It takes a lot of time and what you'll first need is to be able to communicate orally.

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

Yes, but I was looking forward to living in another country.

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

Quite significant. I found it hard to adapt to the food, but I soon managed to cook my own food, although it's hard to find all the ingredient in smaller cities like Nanchang. I also found it hard to bear people spitting on the streets, and I still do!.

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. I think it's quite accurate to say that one goes through those stages.

First, you enjoy travelling and people paying you compliments on how smart and handsome you are. Then, you resent people staring at you everywhere you go and you realize how hard it is to do some simple things, mostly because of the language barrier. And then, you might feel the satisfaction about all the things you've been able to do on your own.

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've experienced many of those feelings, but only ocassionaly. It all depends on one's personality and how willing you are to adapt, I guess.

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

You don't see people drinking or sleeping on the streets. They are also more naive, in a positive way.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Learning the language and getting used to the food.

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

It's customary in my country to greet people with a kiss on the cheek. I once forgot I was in China and tried to do so with a girl I met and she was quite shocked. I was really embarrased!

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

Learn the language. Find as many English-speaking Chinese friends as you can. They'll be of GREAT help.

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Comments about this Report

Jun 28, 2011 11:28

Actually, you do need to learn some of the written language, for your sanity. But focus on reading comprehension. Writing can be done with pinyin on cell phones and computer keyboards, so there's no need to actually draw the characters.

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