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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Parrita, Costa Rica

May 03, 2015

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An expat in Parrita, Costa Rica has many positive cultural adjustments. She slowed down, got rid of all of her "American" expectations, and saw immediately why the Ticos are some of the happiest people on earth. She stopped worrying about the million of things that she worried about in the States and has a much more peaceful happy life!

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?

Yes I came and stayed weeks at a time in different parts of Costa Rica, to make sure where I wanted to live.

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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 speak "poco" espanol. Mainly a lot of words, but no sentences. I am learning slowly, but if I don't use what I learn over and over, I forget it.

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

Not at all, because I spent enough time here initially. It is a huge mistake to not spend a lot of time in the country that you are planning to move to. Then just uproot everything and move.

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

I loved all the culture shocks. I guess I am strange, but I do not like the hustle and bustle of my lifestyle in the states and was really ready to give all that up for a simpler life.

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?

Absolutely not. Because I spent time here first and knew exactly what to expect.

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.

Mine are all positive. I'm not sure why these questions are all geared towards the negative emotions one can feel here? Mine were all positive. I slowed down, I got rid of all my "American" expectations, and I saw immediately why the Ticos are some of the happiest people on earth. I stopped worrying about the million things that I worried about in the States and I have a much more peaceful happy life!

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

Slowing down! Not expecting things to happen immediately. Knowing that things will happen in their own good time. The happy smiling people even in the face of poverty, these people are happy with their lot in life. The nature is also a huge factor here. I feel that humans are raping our earth and I see evidence of that when I return to TX. All the concrete, the gas wells, all the cars. It's refreshing to see people respect the resources here in CR!

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Not knowing the language.

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

sure I did. but I didn't realize it til way after I would do those things. But they were all very minor and I think Ticos are a bit accepting of our social blunders.

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

Come stay in the place you plan to move. Then, there will be no culture shock at all.

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