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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Hereford, UK

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

Hereford

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

Yes, about a month prior to my move.

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

No. Didn't have expectation that England would be radically different and I'm also a fairly laid-back, go with the flow kind of person.

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

Very minimal. There are many differences but none that are radically different from US. Biggest adjustment has been learning to deal with the work culture here. Overall, communication is much less effective and much more hierarchical. Extremely challenging to deal with given the fact that, back in the US, I worked in a very "flat" business (same company) with pretty good and effective communication practices.

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?

No, I feel like I just settled in. The main challenge I've had is that my pets are still back in the US with my parents and I miss them dreadfully (I'm expected to only be here for a year so didn't put them through all the stress of a move). The few times where I've had "bad days" are really based around the fact that I miss my pets.

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.

Disengagement at work due to frustrations with the ineffective approach to communication. Because things are communicated in a very hierarchical way, a lot of information doesn't get shared effectively or on time.

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

I love that everything is not open 24/7 and that there is not an all-encompassing focus on things always being as convenient as possible. I like convenience but I appreciate that many stores are not open in evenings or on Sunday. Gives people time just to be with people and not always buying as many in the US do.

More than anything I love the public footpaths and that is one of my biggest sadnesses I will have when I move back to the US. Many more people here than in US appreciate simply taking a walk and taking in the scenery.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Many stores not being open in the evenings. All shopping, other than grocery, needs to be done on the weekend or during the workday.

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

None that I'm aware of!

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

Just be open to what comes along and new experiences. No one takes an expat assignment to live in the US. If you don't want to deal with the changes and unexpected issues, stay home!

Advance reading and research will help ensure that you're aware of what the differences will be and prepare you to expect them.

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