Home Panama Forum Panama Guide Panama Resources Panama Real Estate International Jobs



City Guides

CIGNA Expat Health Insurance
Join Sign In
Panama Relocation Tours

Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Nueva Gorgona, Panama

May 08, 2017


An expat who has been living in Panama has written a long culture shock report about life in Nueva Gorgona. She has a great perspective on what it means to be an expat in Panama, which is probably why she's enjoying life there!

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Nueva Gorgona

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

I visited Panama a few times but had no cross-cultural training. I have always been a "jump in with two feet" kind of person.

a PPP International Health Insurance for Expats

Expat health insurance to suit your needs. Get affordable healthcare cover that gives you more. AXA - Global Healthcare has supported members globally for over 50 years; including professionals and their families, expatriates worldwide, workers in remote regions, and many others embracing life abroad.

Learn More Get a Quote

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?

Before my move, I used some cd's to learn Spanish but I was not very serious. After my move, I took some tutoring and am now in a class as the local international school. I'm not learning as fast as I'd like to but I'm learning and I can convey my message when speaking with a non-English speaker. I also rely (probably too heavily) on my translate app on my phone.

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

I was only mildly concerned about culture shock before my move. I had visited Panama a few times. I knew there were things I'd have to do without and other things that would be difficult to locate, but my concern was not enough to dissuade my move.

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

There are a lot of expats from the US and Canada in the area where I live. The culture shock was not significant. I can get everything I need and most of what I want nearby. There is great shopping nearby and there are a lot of activities that I can be involved in.

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've been in my current apartment for almost two years. I love my life and I love where I live. I respect that I am a visitor in Panama and this is not my country. I think if expats remember that and respect the manana culture of Panama, the adjustment is much smoother.

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 noticed that I have more energy here than I did in the US. I think the climate in he Pacific beach area is better for my arthritis and my back than the dry climate I left in the US. The biggest adjustment for me was the fact that sunset is between 6 and 6:30, every night, yearound. Since I live only 9° from the equator, sunrise and sunset are constant. All things considered, I'll live with that.

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

I love walking on the beach, collecting shells and sea glass and photographing the patterns the waves make in the salt and pepper sand on our beach. I love hearing the waves crash on the shore first thing when I wake up in the morning and last thing before I fall asleep at night. I love watching the Pelicans fly by and dive for food in the ocean. I love that there is a lot happening where I live and there is an active expat community and I can be involved in as much or as little as I want to. I love retirement and have days that I do absolutely nothing and enjoy the peace. I love all the fresh fruit at my disposal locally. My eating is more healthy than it has ever been. Life is good.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

I am the first to admit that learning a new language at an advanced age is a challenge. It's not easy but I'm plugging along and it's coming. Sometimes I'm challenged finding ingredients for a recipe but, I must admit, it's more reverse culture shock visiting the US and seeing the multitude of choices for any item and trying to decide which one to buy. Here either they have it or they don't, it's as easy as that.

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

After walking the beach, I used to tell the guard I was mucho calliente until I found out that meant hot like spicy or sexy. Now I've learned to say mucho calor.

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

The easiest way to transition in a new culture is to respect the locals, it's their country. They may do things differently than I would but that doesn't make your my better. Don't jump on trying to change how things are done just embrace the differences. You may even learn better ways to do things.

Read Next

Retirement-In-Taboga-IslandAn Expat Shares What it's Like Retiring in Taboga Island, Panama

A 30-50 minute ferry ride from Panama City takes you to the shores of Toboga Island. One expat couple decided to retire there over eight years ago to enjoy the lower cost of living, good medical care and beautiful weather. The couple share their experiences living on this beautiful island.

Moving-To-Alto-BoqueteAn Expat Talks about Moving to Alto Boquete, Panama

An expat in Alta Boquete, Panama talks about choosing Alta Boquete and making the move there. She talks about what to bring and what to leave behind, one moving company to avoid and other recommendations.

10 Tips for Living in Panama

Did you know it's hot in Panama City all year round? Did you know that it's hard to get a work visa in Panama? Did you know that Panama has great incentives for foreign retirees?

5 Great Places to Retire in Central America

Central America is an increasingly popular retirement destination. Retirees love it's proximity to the United States, lower cost of living, beautiful cities, amazing beaches, healthy lifestyle and friendly people.

7 Best Places to Live in Panama

Panama is a great place to live or retire with easy residency laws, warm people and lots of expats. Whether you want to live by the beach in Bocas del Toro or need to live in Panama City for work and schools, there are many places to explore. We highlight 5 great places to live in Panama.

AGS Worldwide Movers

Write a Comment about this Expat Report

Sign In to post a comment.
Join Today (free)

Join Expat Exchange to meet expats in your area or get advice before your move. It's FREE and takes 1 minute!

Panama Guide
Other Links
Our Story Our Team Contact Us Submit an Article Advertising Travel Warnings

Copyright 1997-2018 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal