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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Dongguang, China

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

Dongguang

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

No...I didn't receive any training..I had travelled and worked in China for a few weeks at a time so that when I moved here permanently it wasn't quite so much of a shock, but there were still lots of cultural differences to get used to.

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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?

No...I don't speak Chinese, but I've noticed that if you are friendly in your approach, the local people are very helpful and you can always make yourself understood.

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

Not really...you must have an open mind and realize this isn't your country and obviously there will be cultural differences and remember that there are just some things you cannot change.

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

It was only significant in the cultural habits e.g. men spitting and sometimes even women spitting...the treatment of animals....remembering that China is a patriarchal society, but that in most cases, the women of the family still hold a lot of power..it's just not shown...

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 didn't go through the honeymoon phase as I had worked here...I didn't experience the irritation to anger stage because I knew I was in their country and had to either accept things I wasn't used to, or be unhappy...I wasn't prepared to do that.

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 can't really say that I noticed much of a change...sometimes I got a little angry at the spitting and the littering, but I couldn't change it so I had to accept it.

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

It's a much simpler way of life here in DOngguan than in the US. I find the people here to be curious, but very outgoing and helpful and very very kind.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The hardest thing for me is not being able to jump in my car and drive down to the store to pick up a few things. Crossing the road was a challenge because pedestrians have absolutely no rights here and you really have to be careful.

Setting up new Bank accounts - very tedious and bureaucratic.

Settling problems at work - the Chinese will spend an hour blaming each other before they actually decide how to solve the problem.

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

I can't think of any off hand, but am sure there must be one or two...but the Chinese are very forgiving in that sort of thing...they will laugh at you when they see your embarrassment but are quick to forgive.

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

It's an old cliche but you really have to "go with the flow"...remember, there are things you will see that you cannot change, so don't waste your time getting angry about them.

Enjoy the country for what it is...it is rich in culture and variety and beauty. I hope to see more of it while I am here...

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