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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Alexandria, Egypt

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

Alexandria

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?

No. We want to learn Arabic as quickly as possible. It is essential if you are planning to stay in another country for any length of time.

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

A little. I tried to read up as much about Egypt that I could find.

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

It certainly is different to what I had prepared for.

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?

I go through all the stages every single day. The secret for me is to pliable and accepting and not to compare what is here with what I had in South Africa.

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.

One of the changes is the realization of how fortunate I have been and how blessed to be a part of this new chapter in our lives. The support of my husband has made all the difference.

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

The people are very friendly and try and help wherever they can. The sense of safety is also a surprise. The delight in finding things that I am looking for is wonderful.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The language, to make someone understand what I am trying to say.

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

I was in the mobile shop and after arranging our cellphone airtime etc. was asked for the visa, whereupon I pulled out my husband's passport and pointed to our visa. Much to the shop assistant's amusement he pointed out that he wanted the Visa credit card.

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

Prepare as much as possible, arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can. Be pliable and humble and prepared to accept people for who they are without expecting them to be who you want them to be. Accept that you will be sad and miss those you love but be grateful that you live in the electronic age where contact is easy. Be patient with yourself and your spouse.

More Expat Advice about Culture Shock in Egypt

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Comments about this Report

guest
Sep 22, 2011 10:52

very good advise....I hope to meet a lot of new friends in Egypt when I move to Alexandria.

boudica
Oct 5, 2011 16:14

I am also from South Africa and am moving to Alexandria in December ... this time to get marreid and stay :) I lived in Cairo for 6 months in 2009 and again for two months in 2010 and again this year for a month in January. To me there was really no 'culture' shock. I love the people and the country and the food is amazing! The Egyptians are by far the friendliest people to live amongst. Yes, of course it is different from SA but I found it very easy to live and work and play. It depends on YOU whether you will be happy or miserable.

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