Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
Belize City, Belize
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?
English is the main language, Spanish is also used. I spoke both before I moved.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
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?
First two months were honeymoon phase while we got our QRP (qualified retired persons) states sorted.
Irritation to anger stage came about 8 months later when we were trying to process trade licenses for a guesthouse under the QRP and BTB (Belize Tourist Board) groups. We were ill advised, a costly mistake. All very frustrating.
Rejection of the culture.... well this is our home for life, the first place we can really put down roots, we wouldn't even entertain the thought of rejecting the culture.
Cultural adjustment phase... I think after 9 months we are just about there. Happy and content.
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.
Shortness of temper (could be because we have both just retired, so we are also adjusting to new 24/7 living situations)
Increased eating (heck yes... the food is great over here, and the fresh fruit and vegetables second to none). We are eating much more at home nowadays for two reasons: firstly: there are no fast food restaurants in Belize City, except for a couple of Chinese restaurants. Secondly: we don't go out of our home after dark for safety reasons.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
The laid back.... it will happen when its meant to happen attitude. You can't help but relax.
The food...... wholesome and homecooked.
The friendliness of the people.
The ability to communicate in English makes living here so easy.
The multicultural aspect of residents and tourists that you meet every day from all different countries. Conversation flows, and is a constant learning opportunity.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Newspapers.... frontline news is always about murders etc. so it does scare you a bit.
Newspapers.... each one is very politically orientated. So you get very one sided views.
QRP (Qualified Persons Package).... can hold you back from doing things you might want to do. It does get frustrating.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
Not yet, but I am beginning to SWEAR a lot more, which I have never done in the past.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
The irony is: you will have more CULTURE SHOCK when you go back to your original country, than when you settle in BELIZE.
You'll get so used to this laid back, rule-bending country and love it so much...... you won't want to go back.
More Expat Advice about Culture Shock in Belize