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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Riga, Latvia

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?

Was my 4th country (Denmark, Panama, India) so was eager to get back to Europe for a more western lifestyle after 2 crazy ones.

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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?

No. Latvian and Russian are spoken but English is here. Because I also speak a lot of Danish, I recognized some Latvian word similarities when grocery shopping.

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

Only on how an ex Soviet satellite country would be after 20 years of freedom. The gov't collapsed just before we arrived.

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

It was all positive and quite shocking at just how beautiful Riga and Latvia are. It's amazing!

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 happy as a clam here in Latvia. This is coming after a year in Mumbai and 2.5 years in Panama. My expectations were low so this has been a wonderful surprise and we want to extend our time if possible.

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've been a great mood ever since we got to Latvia 1 year ago tomorrow.

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

The people can be a bit sour, but considering their history, I can't blame them. That said, the country itself with its nature and scenery should be promoted more by their government because it's really special.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The languages. They're tough. This winter was very cold/snowy but being a Minnesota girl, just took a few weeks to remember this is what I grew up in even though I'd done the last 4.5 years in the tropics! It was beautiful too even with the mounds of snow. Just dress warm.

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

Not that I'm aware of.

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

Sounds cliche, but keep an open mind. Unless you are emigrating, it's really an extended vacation so treat it like such.

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