Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
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, from my Italian sweetheart as well as my military service around the world.
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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'm lazy but I know enough to get by.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Not so much but it living in Italy isn't all as glamours as it is when you simply visit for a few days or 2-3 weeks. The flare goes away quite quickly when you realize its a third world country in comparison to the USA e.g. medical, utilities, car costs, toll roads and fuel.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Moderate to significant but you will adjust after 6-8 months.
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, yes and yes. Once you become part of the fabric, you learn that its just another place but a lot more expensive! The food is great and that includes FRESH produce! It's the entire country is a Whole Foods store.
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 with store hours and the inferior quality of many goods. Oh, and forget about returning anything for any reason.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
People are usually more sincere after you’re accepted. Whatever you do, don't ever tell an Italian how its done better in America.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Well, I’m retired from the US Army and fiancée is Italian and lives in the north. I have visited there fairly often and I have also been stationed throughout Europe. It’s very pricy but the culture is very nice! However, there are drawbacks to all the glamour. American’s will have to accept many concessions as to lifestyle. Shops have segmented work hours; utilities are markedly higher, and you can completely forget about returning anything you buy, regardless of the reason. Theft is fairly common so watch your property and your back. Also, you need to consider medical provisions as well. Get sick and go to a doctor can be a real eye opener. BTW: If you think fuel prices are high in the US of A then you’ll get a rude awakening when you fill up a car in Italy. If that doesn’t affect you, the highway toll fees will. Still, the United States is clearly going to hell in a hand basket so these seemingly stark drawbacks may not be all that bad.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
Don't expect people to smile and say hello as you pass someone on the street. They won't even make eye contact with you unless you're in the down town shopping districts.
I wash my car while bareback and I deeply offended a few people. It is considered very rude to display your body in public.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Don't tip as it is not required and they will consider you as stupid. Sure, they'll take it but they won't respect you. Also, drink your coffee slowly, regardless of the thimble size cups.
More Expat Advice about Culture Shock in Italy