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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Dhaka, Bangladesh

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What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Dhaka

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

None

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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?

learn it while in-country

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

None

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

it is significant

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?

No, its almost every thing comes at same time or very near intervals, most of the time i have to learn and understand and great deal of respect for the situation in order to adapt

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 mainly, as many assumed things just do not happen as they should, even very simple minor things. Hence, one has to go to extent of having every detail sorted out before and after the tasks, advice to incoming expatriate, is to lower initial expectations and expect the totally unexpected. key word : Be immensely patient.

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

general innocence and kindness and hospitality of the people

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

It is not possible to insist and want every thing to meet your expectations, rather a lot of acceptance and compromise, and precautions on my part becomes necessary.

It is necessary to accept and understand that it is a majority-Muslim country and most of the populace put their faith at the disposal of god and normally just try their best in getting the work done for daily survival, there is no benchmark except in the higher hierachy of MNCs, and even then that will be set lower say compare with a country like Singapore or HK.

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

No, I did not. However, it is important to note that I come from a multi religious , multi-racial environment (country of Singapore), and have been exposed to Islamic practices and culture, hence it may have been easier for me.

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

inshallah means "if god (allah) willing it will be done accordingly or it will happen" there is reference constantly in a country where fate and eventuality very much depended on god in the average man's psychic. This is by no means negative as Bangladeshis probably need more of our guidance and understanding of their country than we may think they need.

Indeed man will not be master of his own fate in this country where corruption, political power wrestling and cyclones and other natural disaster dictates majority of the people's welfare.

My 4 years living in Bangladesh and travelling through the country itself has humbled me a lot. the country and its people are burdened with immense difficulties which makes an average day living incredibly tough viewing from the expat's end.

Be ready to know that "I am on my way" means your Bangladeshi contact has not set out to meet you but on his way to set out, not on the way in the journey, and get ready for crippling 3 hr traffic jams making once a day one meeting common.

Be wary of lady beggars who present small basket jute containers having snakes in them to "extort" more money from you, advice is not to open windows to beggars or to buy any thing, at least not from expat's window. If one really wishes to assist the begging children or buy the cheap books etc, it is better to ask the local bengali driver to speak and bargain and give the money on yr behalf than to open your own side of the car window.

It is also not advisable to give syndicate lady beggars carrying babies evidenced in perpetually "sleeping babies" (doped I believed ). However, it's very great feeling to help children who are selling sweets, stickers, books and flowers, to further their own lives. These i will give generously not ask for change.

It is common in hot seasons April to July that there will be sweltering heat and frequent electricity cuts and electricity rationing rendering expat dependent totally on diesel generators if you need to keep cool from the extreme heat. Expats are advised to ensure the apartment they staying in to have own well-maintained auto kick-in electricity generators.

Water for expats not to be boiled from tap. It is advisable to use bottled water to cook and boil for drinks for expats as our stomach may not be able to take in the local tap water.

Finally ladies to dress conservatively. There are extremist-thinking people who may find exposure of too much skin not acceptable. generally the country feels secular though i must say.

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