Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
An American living in Klaipeda, Lithuania lives like a queen on her US income - but it comes at a price. The Lithuanians view her and most other Westerners as upper class, which makes it a challenge to truly connect with them.
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?
No, but I lived in Lithuania before. I have returned after being gone for six years.
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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 understand the written language, but have forgotten a lot of the vocabulary. Language barrier is just one component of culture shock, however.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
No, because I had lived a total of two years in the country before.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
This time more so than before. I believe it has something to do with my professional development that took place while I was back in my native country.
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 have experienced all of the stages at one point or another.
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 think this time I am being reminded of what I felt last time I lived in Lithuania: income/societal status barriers. For example, my societal position is different in the U.S. than it is in Lithuania. I can "live like a queen" in Lithuania with the income I make in the U.S., but not vice-versa. This affects friendship development and general relations.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
I like their appreciation of nature and all things natural.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
The income gaps between Lithuania and western economies. And the desire of some Lithuanians to speak English with you instead of helping you learn Lithuanian.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
Not that I am aware of.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Just prepare yourself for "distanced" relationships with Lithuanians if you are coming from a western country. It could depend on your personality, too, of course. However, the general feeling is that Lithuanians treat westerners differently because they have more money.
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