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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Cardiff, UK

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

Cardiff

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

No. Not unless you count talking to British friends and having visited the UK numerous times before moving.

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

That they wouldn't like me as an American. This was during the Bush years.

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

It wasn't too bad.

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?

Probably at some level. I know I was frustrated because I couldn't get the same kinds of healthy foods I was used to getting in the States. Low-fat cheese? Ha! Also, the home appliances are tiny compared to ones in the U.S. -- in fact, what they call a clothes dryer barely works or eats up tons of energy drying your clothes. I also felt pressured to drink a lot, which I don't do.

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 was never homesick -- I *loved* living in the UK and would move back in a heartbeat if I could get a work visa. I was only depressed when I returned to the States.

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

That fact that Brits are more like me than they are like people in the Pacific Northwest. I'm originally from New York.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Being careful not to say the wrong thing.

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

Can't really recall.

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

Always be humble and gracious! You are a visitor in someone else's country. Show interest in their country and traditions. If a language other than your native language is involved, learn that country's language!

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