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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Alice Springs, Australia

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

Alice Springs

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

A little, most a week before. A little by our sponsors after arrival.

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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?

Actually, the towns folk spoke english, as did the bushmen..but I'm here to tell you, even with my Texas drawl...I had to look at their lips to see if they really were speaking english.

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

Not one bit.

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

It came after about 3 weeks into arrival. Since Alice is geographicly isolated from the rest of the world....we might as well been living on Kawajalean Atol.

Prices for everything was higher then normal from the coastal cities. Aborigines in the interior. We found out that Alice Springs was the dumpping geound of misfit and milagned Aboriginals. Often times clothing and other items were taken while you watched and a sharp stick or rock was used to warn you off. Clan wars in the middle of the streets over a pack of smokes.

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?

Yeppers...

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.

Luckly we had other American families in the area and we could do a lot of venting with them. The Aussie attitude was "No Worries" when it should have been "No Hurries".

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

I liked the difference in language and we did meet some truley awsome Aussies that I still write to. But outside of our circle, it was expected that Americans were whiney or Whinge to much.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Cost of living.

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

Yeah...it's not bathroom it's dunny or toilet if out and about.

Don't ask for a napkin or spaghetti with sauce..you'll get ketchup on your noodles.

Always read the menu before ordering..a hamburger in the states has a little less on it then a hamburger in Australia...Beet root and fried egg are good..but not on a hamburger.

Don't ask the Aussies why they have a Union jack on their flag.

Don't mention the fact that the amount of flies in the air and the onse attacking your eyes, mouth, nose and ears in droves reminds you of hanging out at the back of a meat processing plant where they dump the body parts in an open trash can...er bin.

Get used to not picking money up off the ground unless you yourself dropped it, otherwise God only knows where it has been and what it's landed in when it dropped.

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

Yeah, even though Australia is almost as big as CONUS, they still like to make the parking lots as small as possible to accommodate maybe a Honda Fit without having to do the shimmy shake dance getting out of your vehicle at the local Woolies. Always park on a street if you can, that way the Aboriginals don't use your hood and the hood of the car parked next to you as a support for their arms when they are doing the deed we normally do in our toilet.

Watch were you walk all the time...surprises are in abundance.

If you see a car burning along side the road..if there is no one yelling and running around on fire...keep on driving and report it when you find the police.

Kangaroos do not realize that Auto's are bigger then they are and will stay rock steady in the middle of the road..horn blaring, lights flashing, you hooting and hollering at them or throwing your XXXX can at them. They will move when they damned well feel like it.

Camels..what the heck is with that? Nothing like driving down the road and running into a 2 ton camel.

If you have to go to "Hospital"...make sure you are either ready to pay out the yang for attention or be ready to wait in line. If you are not dying or just short of loss of limb or sight..the lady with the ingrown toenail is ahead of you and that is that.

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Comments about this Report

guest
Jan 19, 2011 17:01

You had a real outback experience then!!!.... The big cities are bait more sophisticated!!!! Lesley www.northernbeachesknow-how.com.au

guest
Dec 19, 2011 06:50

Pretty accurate account of outback towns. I was born in Ireland, but my family emigrated to Australia in 1956. I've seen lots of changes over the years. My mum used to say, 'I'll dress the bed', but the aussies would say, 'you mean make the the bed', then my mum would say in her soft County Mayo accent, 'who's going to supply the hammers and nails?'. My father never could get used to being called 'an old bugger', usually a term of endearment, but not to dad, who took such phrases literally. Oh, the vagaries of the English language and it's cultural filters.

guest
Feb 13, 2012 22:39

This is not giving me warm and fuzzies I'm a single women 50 plus women coming for a 6 month assignment. Please tell me there really are nice parts of town

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