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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in South County Dublin, Ireland

Nov 05, 2013
Submitted by canadianinireland

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Bray, Ireland

We did have a honeymoon phase for sure where we loved everything. Then reality hit and it was frustrating and hard to figure things out. It took us a while to make real friends. Best advice I can give you is to look hard for the similarities to your own culture instead of focusing on the differences.

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

South County Dublin

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

A little bit informally. We had a few days arranged via my husbands work with a relocation team and they took us around and showed us local sites. They also explained some cultural things that were good to know and allowed us to ask questions without judgement.

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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?

We speak English so language wasn't a problem. My children are learning Irish in school and are picking it up without difficulty.

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

I was mostly worried about making friends and offending someone by accident.

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

It started off fine and I think that's because we felt like tourists for the first month or so. Once we moved out of the corporate housing and we were in our own place it set in. We had to learn how to get things done here and navigate the systems. We find them frustrating but have learned to laugh and regroup with renewed patience because we aren't going to change it.

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 wouldn't say I was angry but we did have a honeymoon phase for sure where we loved everything. Then reality hit and it was frustrating and hard to figure things out. It took us a while to make real friends, but we eventually did and it makes all the difference in the world to have a social circle and people you can do things with and rely on.

Getting the children into the local schools was extremely hard and stressful. Once we solved that things got easier.

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.

I went through a period of resenting my husband for moving us here (absolving myself of any role in this move!). Clearly it was misplaced but I was lonely and lacking friends and at home with 2 kids while he socialized and interacted with adults at work all day. I was jealous and lonely and homesick so my anger was misdirected. Once the kids got into school I was able to meet more people and that helped a lot. My social circle grew which was very important.

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

I love that kids stay innocent longer here. The kids just play and run around and there isn't the same fears associated with it as there would have been in my home town in Canada.

People are very friendly and inviting and go to great lengths to help you out once they know you. We've been warmly included in many traditions and celebrations here.

We also love the history and have spent a lot of time exploring the country learning as much as we can. It's a gorgeous place to live, especially when sunny!

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Nobody is in a hurry to do anything and they run on "Irish time" meaning it's normal and acceptable to be late. It has taken us a long time to get used to this. Repairs take forever as does processing paperwork.

Don't even get me started on the challenges of getting a full Irish driving license!!!

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

I kept referring to my kids trousers as "pants" which would be normal in Canadian culture. My friend took me aside and told me I had to stop because "pants" here means underwear!!! Oh and once my son was asked to wear his boots to his gaelic football practice - I sent him in rubber boots not realizing they meant cleats! Fortunately my kids are very forgiving :)

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

Best advice I can give you is to look hard for the similarities to your own culture instead of focusing on the differences.

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