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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Alexandria, Egypt

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


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

Yes. My principal talked to us about the differences we would encounter, as this was a first overseas post for most of us.

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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 knew none of the language before I arrived. I found taxi words and food words to be the most helpful (stop here, wait for me, straight ahead, left, right, milk, no meat, etc.)

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

I wasn't worried, but the smell scared me when I first landed.

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

Being my first time abroad, I didn't know what to expect. I was lonely for home, but I don't feel that I experienced severe culture shock. It was a bit more difficult as a single woman. I got a lot of attention from the men, and goosed by some boys on the subway (ladies... DON'T take the subway!)

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 guess I did a bit. Keeping a sense of humor helps a great deal.

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 did find myself getting irritated/frustrated with things when they didn't work properly or the taxi driver seemed to not be able to find one of the most popular spots in town.

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

Sense of safety. Kindness of Egyptians.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Very dirty, smelly, busy, noisy place. Nothing is the way you would expect it to be, and it's difficult to get many things done.

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Comments about this Report

Apr 14, 2011 09:36

something I had a problem with is you always have dirty shoes..Egypt ruins any nice shoes that you wear. Another thing is that its impossible to find a lot of the vegetables that you eat in America.... The safety is amazing though.The people are very kind, as you said. Best of all is all the rich culture...and Kushery!!!

Jun 20, 2012 11:46

I have been living and working in Alex for 7 months now. Yes, it is dirty and stinks to high heaven. I find it very hard to get used to that. What else can one expect in a city of 7 million people and virtually no rubbish collection? The thing that gets to me is the very 'ancient' way of thinking and doing. Middle ages comes to mind here. When i first arrived here I stayed with my fiance and his parents. Mother slept in the day and father at night so that there were always one of them watching us lol It is not easy getting used to the narrow mindedness. I survived though.

Jul 6, 2012 08:30

I agree totally, I am an expat living in Cairo..............after 11 yrs, ready to go back home, not only is it dirty, smelly, busy, noisy now it is no longer safe for any woman to travel or walk alone which means being so isolated. The people were once kind however since the revolution so many younger people have become so arrogant and distrustful of foreigners. Definitely time to move on...........

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Living-in-AlexandriaAn Expat Discusses Living in Alexandria, Egypt

An expat in Alexandria, Egypt talks about living in a Muslim country, job opportunities for expats, the importance of family in Egypt and more.

An expat in Alexandria, Egypt talks about living in a Muslim country, job opportunities for expats, the importance of family in Egypt and more....

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