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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Porlamar, Venezuela

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

Porlamar

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

No. Just received general information from friends who where Venezuelan,

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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 spoke conversational Spanish..learned more while living there.

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

Just a bit..not so much language issues, but on living conditions.

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

Pretty significant. It was most definitely a case of their living conditions versus what I was used to. Your basic going from a 1st world country to a 3rd world country.

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?

There was no honeymoon phase really...it was immediately apparent that conditions where going to be an enormous change. I wasn't angry, I just got on with it.

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.

Homesickness crept up now and again.

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

The Venezuelans sense of family...and found them to be very open to new people no matter where you had come from.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

There were a few...supplies at the grocery were sometimes little to none. You could go on any day and there would be no milk, no butter, certain types of meat..as well as household/kitchen items. Getting used to 'armed' guards at certain locations..like the grocery or your local panaderia. There were sometimes water shortages that were supplied into your home..and running the water through a tank/pump system was sometimes frustrating. Two of the hardest things for me were the amount of garbage that was dumped anywhere.. and seemed everywhere. And there seemed to be very little compassion for animals..particularly dogs and cats. I saw many hungry and un-cared for dogs. It was heart-breaking.

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

Just your 'getting to know the language' screw-ups, but everyone I encountered was very undersatnding and helpful.

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

I've lived and traveled many places and have always gone with the attitude to not expect things to be the same or even like where I came from. However, if you are going to live in a country that by many is considered a 3rd world country, be prepared..do some research or go ahead and have a visit and a 'look-see' as to what to expect and be honest with what you are capable of being able to live with..or without.

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