Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
A woman who relocated to Limerick for work shares that she's experienced some culture shock, but it hasn't been significant. She has found it hard to make plans with women on the weekends, because most Irish women stay home and let their husbands go out to have fun.
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?
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Not worried; just aware it would likely be a small issue.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Not significant. A lot of very small adjustments, like figuring out what kind of laundry detergent to buy, learning local idioms, shifting from direction-based to landmark-based directions and travel.
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?
Yes, to a degree. I believe I had a much easier time of each stage in Ireland than people have in countries with very different cultures and languages.
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've become a lot more introspective. This has trained me to think about how I can change to make a situation better, instead how to change the situation itself.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
People are very shallow. They are very friendly at cafes and pubs, and very talkative, but they don't really become "friends" the way we think of it in the US. It reminds me a lot of Los Angeles - being polite and welcoming, and asking open-ended questions to get the basics on a person, but taking a long time to develop any sort of valuable relationship.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Other women. Most of the women I have met here put men first in everything. It's very difficult to find women to do things with on weekends and evenings, because the women "mind the children" while the men go out to have fun. My suggestions that their husbands should take turns so the women can go out, too, are usually met with laughter.
I also have trouble with the glorification of Americans and American products here, while in conversation American people, politics, and values are regularly insulted. I know people with American appliances in their homes who go to the US to buy clothes, who then complain about American consumerism and capitalism. I usually just change the subject.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
I negotiated my compensation package at a new job, rather than just accepting the offer. I found out later that negotiating is very rare here, especially for women, and that the offer was almost rescinded because of it.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Listen as much as you can before speaking, and try to figure out what people are really saying and why they are saying it.
More Expat Advice about Culture Shock in Ireland