What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?
No, but as a Graduate Teacher of Spanish, French, and English as a Foreign Language , I first lived abroad (Spain) in 1976, and am currently a resident in Spain again after returning from Bolivia in 2010. I have been teaching for some 33 years now, half that time in Spain, so for me adjusting wasn’t a problem.
If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language?
Yes, Spanish, which I had studied at University and have been teaching for over 30 years.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Not at all! For me I get “reverse culture shock” on the few occasions I have returned to live temporarily back in the UK!
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Insignificant, having been residing in Spain for more than 20 years, my move to Bolivia was much easier than for most. Some uneasiness about South America but I had spent 4 months in Colombia earlier in the same year I went out to Bolivia (2009) so I had a good idea of what to expect and was much more confident.
Expats often talk about going through the “stages of culture shock.” Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?
Having been divorced from my British ex-wife for more than 20 years, and used to being alone, I didn’t experience any of these stages. Of course it helps that I am totally immersed in the Spanish way of life, food, customs, and speak the language fluently!
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Learn the language!! Immerse yourself into the lifestyle of the locals. Keep a low profile, especially at the beginning of your stay, and if you don’t speak the language. Keep on your guard, as a “Gringo” you are going to stand out like a sore thumb, so some people will inevitably try and take advantage of that, either by attempting to trick you out of your money, or other items, to robbery or worse.