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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Roquebrun, France

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

Roquebrun

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

No

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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 speak some French. I took some classes before I arrived, and have increased mu knowledge by speaking with the French people.

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

No

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

Minimal

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 have been here only a year so I may experience more of some of them. I have been irritated with the bureaucracy, but so far am happy with the culture and the environment.

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 don't think I had any of these symptoms.

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

Pace of life in the village, availability of high quality fresh food and wine, friendliness of the people and willingness to work with my language shortcomings, lack of rampant materialism compared to the US, secular nature of the society, ongoing traditions. I am in a winemaking village in the Languedoc.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Becoming fluent in French and being patient with the inordinate amount of time bureaucratic things take to be accomplished. Dealing with the utility companies, internet, etc. is very frustrating, as it takes months to get some things taken care of that would take hours or days in the US.

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

Several times I have mistaken one word for another in french, so given a funny response. Everyone finds it amusing, but it has been funny rather than embarrassing. Best one was at the notaires, I'm buying a house and was there with the seller and we are talking with the notaire about the transaction. He confirms that I am paying cash, and I reply yes I am contented. There is an expression for paying cash that sounds exactly like, Are you contented? -- I was unfamiliar with that terminology, so we all had a good laugh about that.

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

Only that wherever you are, it's a different culture, and you have to either get over it or get out! I can imagine the difficulties with third world cultures as I have traveled in some of those countries, and I would not be able to live in them due to their attitude towards women, children, animals, etc. If you are resettling by choice, be sure you have chosen a country that you can accept the differences.

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