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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Villavicencio, Colombia

Submitted by MarkAnthonyCampolo

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An expat in Villavicencio, Colombia talks about culture shock in Colombia. His greatest challenge is that Colombians don't value time in the same way that Americans do.

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


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?

No, I do not speak Spanish.

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

No, I was not worried about culture shock much. Having lived in other countries as well, and those being much more different from the US than Colombia.

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

Everyone is different, and again I have already lived in other countries. The culture shock for me has not been significant at all, I have not experienced anything I was not expecting and maybe that is key. Doing research ahead of time and being prepared.

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?

No, really there are far more similarities between the USA and Colombia than differences.

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 would say feeling confused at times is the biggest change in me I experienced. Especially since I'm a person that likes to clearly know what is going on at all times.

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

Can I get away without saying anything here? I'm not sure there is anything I appreciate.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Primarily the language barrier, and second is the difference in which Americans value time much more than Colombians. Often I explain why we are impatient people, and why time is so valuable and we don't like to wait or waste it. I'm often saying that it's logical really, you can buy, find, replace, or make most anything but not time of course.

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

Again, be prepared to minimize culture shock. And second be prepared for the unexpected as well.

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