Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Paris, France
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, before I left. Another (short) class after I got here.
Moving to France 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?
No. I am taking lessons through my company, but it is pretty rough going.
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?
There was no honeymoon stage, oddly enough. Stampeded right into misery stage. I've only been here 10 weeks, but it is pretty nasty so far.
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.
Typical stuff. Depression, anxiety due to the additional stress in doing anything without sufficient language skills, and intense loneliness due to the disruption of the social network.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
Food, culture, cultural activities
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
The bureaucracy is pretty irritating.
Probably the worst is the tendency of the French to keep to themselves and their network of friends. Makes it exceedingly difficult to rebuild my social network.
The language is causing me a lot of trouble.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
If I did, I was oblivious to it.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
I think there is underemphasis on the stress to single expats, in contrast to the substantial attention given to the "trailing spouse" phenomena. As a single expat, your social network is essentially completely destroyed, unlike that when you have a family with you.
Language skills cannot be overemphasized. Learning after you arrive is too late, as it prevents quick integration.
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