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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Vienna, Austria

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


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

I have worked with people from diverse backgrounds and have lived in 8 countries. My living experience, personal research before travelling to or moving to a country, and speaking to others who have lived there was my way of preparing myself.

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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 was culturally burnt out by the time I moved to Austria, after living in two other countries within the year. I was not interested nor had the energy to learn another language, nevermind, listen to one. However, I did learn basic words and phrases to get by.

In retrospect, I would begin to learn the language before hand and build on it once living in the country. As studying and practicing a language is very different.

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

Yes.But i thought because i am European and have lived in other parts of Europe I did not think that the differences would have been so big for me as they turned out. I am not talking about food, clothing styles, most of my feeling of disconnection with Austrians were their body language which is very closed off, and unwelcoming. As 70 % of our communication is body language. and it was more challenging speaking little of German.

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

I resisted any new change, felt depressed, very alone and disconnected from who I was as a person. the enviornment nor mentality of the people didnt mirror much of who i was as a Spanish-Canadian woman.

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 went throught all of them except the cultural adjustment phase. I couldnt handle the people anymore.

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.

All of the above. and was more aggressive verbally.

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

All the research and talking to others is relative. Living is a very different thing all together.

Make sure you have your supports to lean on to deal with the emotional up and downs. Have the comforts of home with you, such as, pictures.

Give yourself the time to not like it and like the new country. Zenophobia is huge in Europe. And know, if it isn't your place, you can always go home. It is sometimes better to walk away than stay in a place that does not respect you as a woman or from your culture. Or when you hold very different feelings about how people should be treated. For example, in Asia, child abuse is not illegal.

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Comments about this Report

Sep 22, 2010 18:19

Your comments are very interesting - although they are distressing. I am a European of German ancestry, I speak the language and have lived in the 3 German speaking countries as a "foreigner" (I grew up in South America), finding Austrian people the most accepting, open, and fun people of all three (them being Germany, Switzerland, and Austria). I am sorry you have had trouble adjusting.

Nov 1, 2010 17:57

You are right, many people in Vienna do not have a friendly body language, but they are hard working and detail oriented, and if somebody does not like it then it is time to move on. I for one cannot stand the Spanish lifestyle, it feels far too open and noisy for a northern European, here one needs to respect the privacy of others and mind one's own business and I like it because I was brought up that way.

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