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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Karlsruhe, Germany

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

Karlsruhe

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

In a manner of speaking, I am a dual citizen and had visited Germany on numerous accounts.

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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 spoke German a bit from home, however, the language my mother spoke 20 years ago has changed and evolved, much as any language changes and evolves with time.

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

No, not really. That was a mistake

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

Very. Perhaps more so because I did not expect it. Everything was different in the little ways.

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 mainly into shock. Perhaps it is most poignant when you are in that college-aged phase as I am and you have a clear picture of how you think all age groups ought to be and then they aren't. There was some frustration, that is undeniable and a lot of idealization of American (at least my small midwestern-town) culture.

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.

Frustration, bits of depression, lots of homesickness. Those things get better with time though.

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

The independence. I come from a small MI town, when you want to go somewhere you have two options drive your car or have someone else drive you. Public transportation here is very good, you can get anywhere with it.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Getting used to stores closing at 8.00pm and staying closed on Sundays.

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

Um, try asking what hand motions are considered 'inappropriate' or might have an ulterior meaning.

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

Don't fight it. Expect it. It doesn't matter how well you know the culture, knowing it and living in it are two wholly different things. It does get better, you have to wait it out. Having someone who is going through the same thing helps a lot! Good Luck!

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