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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Shenzhen, China

Aug 08, 2013

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Shenzhen, China

One expat in Shenzhen described her experiences with culture shock. She had difficult adjusting to the local food and lifestyle, but knows that the stages of culture shock will pass and appreciates having friends there to support her.

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?

No cross cultural training. I was told to learn a little Mandarin.

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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?

I am learning the language as I live here.

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

Yes, I was worried about cultural shock. Everyone goes through it, it's just a matter of recognizing, accepting and understanding it. Knowing it will pass with time and patience.

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

I researched the culture and understood that it is apart of the whole experience.

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 went through all of those stages. I think the amount of time in each stage varies. It is important to make friends and have a good support system!

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.

Eating was an issue. Different food and different lifestyle changed food habits. All Croats in my experience, lost weight. For me, it was lack of familiar food, that caused me not to eat. SAFETY issues with food is a huge issue. Proper cleaning and refrigeration are to blame.

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

There intense work ethic and the desire of families to make life better for their children.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

No western toilets and a different view point of modern medicine.

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

Relax, when things are stressing you just take time to breath and realize you are in a very different place.

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