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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

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Market in Bandar Seri Begawan, The Capital Of Brunei

An expat living in Brunei appreciates that people there are generally and almost naturally friendly and helpful. And, although he enjoys the simplicity of life in Brunei, he admits that the lack of conveniences compared to other countries makes him appreciate the basics in a new light.

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

Bandar Seri Begawan

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

No training however I used to visit my parents working here prior on a number of occasions.

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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?

They speak a different language and English, of which I am fluent in. Learned the language while abroad.

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

Didn't consider it at the time

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

Slight significance. Culture resembles my own countries culture in some aspects, but religious practice very much different

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?

Jumped from the honeymoon phase to the cultural adjustment stage immediately.

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.

Increased eating and drinking, bouts of frustration and homesickness, but they faded pretty much after the first year

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

Simple life, standards, and expectations. People are generally and almost naturally friendly and helpful. Lack of many advances in conveniences compared to other countries makes you appreciate the basics in a new light.

The willingness to trust in the capabilities and willingness of people to address everyday activities

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

the language and the norms in compliance with their religious practices and beliefs

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

None that I can remember. We tried very hard to be careful from the start and learned to study the culture and get information from all sources. People are still generally easy to talk to and cooperative if you need assistance to understand their culture. They appreciate your efforts to conform.

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

Nothing to mind at the moment

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Comments about this Report

Tigerman55
May 26, 2014 14:10

I have worked in Brunei back in 1985 when there were very few facilities around. A large Japanese Department store opened while I was there during my second visit there. As stated above the people I found were very friendly and sociable. A work colleague owes his life to treatment he received in the hospital there after being carried unconscious from the sea. One thing to take great care about is the strong undercurrent when out swimming. Also when I was there sandflies were a major problem on the beaches

pamh44
May 26, 2014 15:01

Good for you, you did pretty well! We moved to Brunei in November and I have definitely NOT fell in love with Brunei. The new implementation of the Sharia Law is not helping any either. I am still adjusting, but I don't have any kids living at home anymore and I have not really found any friends yet. Actually they are all moving this summer. Yes, people are friendly, but all have busy lives. I love the wildlife in Brunei and the nearby diving! Cheers!

pamh44
May 27, 2014 15:29

Yes, the sand flies & fleas! Not to mention the jellyfish! Besides the beaches are sooo littered with trash. Very sad because it could be a beautiful place. Nobody seems to care.... My husband has worked on and off in Brunei since the late 90s, and not much has changed since then. The locals are still as clueless is ever!

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