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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Pezenas, France

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

Pezenas

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

No, move d on a lark-actually planned,took language classes (didn't help), found a place to live.

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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?

Learned most of my rench being here.

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

No-it's france-the seat of culture.

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

There are many things you must get used to:the hours,patterns of life are slower, every Frenchman is a wine expert, food is a sacred rite.

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?

Being alone made it easier,there was no one to complain to. The small village where I live has only 2 english speakers. French utilities on the other hand are difficult to deal with,not customer friendly. A good bit of advice-if you're not getting anywhere on the phone-hang up and call again-you might get a nicer person. Expect delays from govt.agencies due to lost paper work, holidays,strikes. Everyone carries a folder with copies of their paperwork when dealing with govt.they keep their own good records!

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.

My blood pressure went down! Now I love long meals with friends, stores closed on sundays, all the free concerts on sundays.

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

Life is good here!

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Learning the subtle language messages-you can't get that in a class.

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

Oh God yes! I once asked a guy about making a local dish. He told me his mother made the best. The next thing I know we're on his little moto going to her house -- where she gives me a cooking lesson, feeds me, and we spend the night learning why the local wine is better. People here are really nice, outgoing, sharing. If you break through the first barriers, you've made it. Another time I asked someone where they got a really nice shirt, the next day I got an all morning shopping tour.

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

For Americans -- be open to change! You're a guest in their country, appreciate the local culture. It's not a race so slow down and absorb the culture.

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