Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
A family who moved to Nadi, Fiji found life there difficult. They felt like everyone was trying to rip them off and rental prices were too high for the quality of housing. They have since returned home, but share their experiences with culture shock.
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?
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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?
Fijian, Hindi and English are all spoken. I learned a couple of basic Fijian words.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Yes, very much so. We had been there a number of times and I did a lot of research, however it does not truly prepare you for the change.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Very, my husband and I would fight over things we normally would not. One of our children would not leave the house. Just to walk down the road became a nightmare to be honest.
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?
Well, I skipped the honeymoon stage and went straight to anger. I have never been so angry and frustrated in my life. I don't consider myself to be a snob, but they ask huge rent for not so nice houses (especially if you're white). I was angry because it felt like everyone was out to rip us off. I have returned home and to be honest, I now have no desire to return. There are a lot of expats in Nandi, but a lot live in Denarau, which is full of Kiwis and Aussie's...so not really Fiji. I do not regret moving back home.
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.
Anger, frustration and I did not even want to talk to people in the end. I just didn't care about anything.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
Local Fijians work very hard for little money.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Settling in and finding somewhere you are happy to live. Once you find your shop that you know will not charge you extra, you can get cheap fruit and vege
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
No not really, some people will talk you through different situations.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Be prepared to go through the stages. Make sure you drive down to areas you plan to live in. Dogs just keep barking. Be prepared to pay more money for rent. Off Denarau, in a semi decent area you are looking at 2500+ for a 3 bed house... But you may have dogs and prostitutes nearby. Join clubs if you can and expect to pay a lot of money for a car, but you definitely need a car.
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