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?
I am in the process of learning Italian, which is super necessary if you want to deal with anything official, including the healthcare system. I have had government healthcare providers hang up on me because my Italian was so bad and they did not want to slow down to allow me to understand.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Not at all. I have lived in 10 different countries in my lifetime - in Asia, North America, Europe & the Middle East. Culture shock is a natural process and I knew it would not all be honeymoon, though I thought being a European country it would be much easier than other places I have lived. Unfortunately this left me totally unprepared for just how difficult things would be.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Very significant. I was pretty shocked by the way I was spoken to in supermarkets and treated by the municipal healthcare providers. Getting my residency was especially tricky because I kept providing them with the documentation they requested, and they would then come back and put another barrier in place. Until I had an Italian friend come with me I was unable to to get my residency, when she did come with me they said everything was in place and they didn't actually need the last document they had requested.
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?
The honeymoon phase lasted about a week, which is unusually short for me. I know in a few months time I'll get past it, but Florence is a very lonely city for an expat, which makes it harder to settle.
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.
Definitely anger and depression, feeling so helpless.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
I love the history, art, food, wine. The whole city and surrounding countryside are a feats for the eyes. And being so much closer to home as well really helps.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Trying to accept that as long as I have an accent I will always be treated as a second rate citizen
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'm aware of but I am sure they happened :)
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Every place I have lived has been so different. Before I moved to Thailand I expected to experience huge culture shock, yet the transition was amazing and easy. Before moving to Italy, I expected less culture shock and experienced the most I have ever had! Just go anywhere expecting culture shock and know it's a natural process. If it's still unbearable after a year or two it's probably not the place for you.
Since people look onto this forum for guidance to how to make the move to Italy, perhaps this forum should also discuss the problem of Expat Fatigue. NeoExpats are full of hope, wonder, anxiety, sense of adventure, willingness to new experiences and tastes and meeting new people. When you first make your move everything is new. Everything is a challenge to be solved. The amazing restaurants with wonderfully fresh fish and vegetables, the incredible variety of local and regional wines, the exotic scenery and the wonderfully mild weather vindicates that difficult decision that you had to make to make the move. There are problems. There are always problems but they are quaint and humorous. Waiting online at the post offices while the customer at the only open window discusses her life with the teller who does not appear to have any urgency. Having to wait hours with immigrants to see government officials so you can get the documents you need only to find out that the officials had to go to another city to process the latest boat load of immigrants, is also quaint. After all what else do you have to do with your time?………………… Overtime things and attitudes change. The new and exotic becomes the old and mundane. All those restaurants now appear to have the same few dishes with only aesthetic differences but basically its all the same food. That huge variety of local and regional wines do not include the great wines of the world, just the same local stuff all the time. If you want a California Chardonnay or a Rhone Cote Rotie, you’re out of luck. Those quaint driving habits of the locals become reason for road rage on your part when you finally recognize that its actually incompetence behind the wheel. And then you really get angry when you consider that for you to get a license you have to go to driving school knowing that you already drive better than most of the people on the roads. That includes the police……………….. It’s not so much home sickness. Two weeks in the States proves to me that its not the USA that I miss. It’s the reason I became an expat in the first place. Its the New, the exotic, the change, the new experiences. Those things are easily found and more easily lost. Its important to consider this when making your plans. Are you leaving your old home because you’re tired of the same old, same old? Well then you are likely to find it again wherever you go. For me the solution is to keep moving. Give each place a few years and then seek some other place. Its not a longterm solution because eventually I will be too old to keep doing that but for now that is the plan. I understood this from the beginning and that is why we have not purchased a home. We rent so that we can easily un-rent and move on. Thats my solution but it may not be yours. However I just wanted to let the NeoExpats know about this. Looking forward to others points of view.
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