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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Doha, Qatar

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

Doha

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

As part of my education I studied cross cultural awareness and anthropology. This broadened my worldview before I stepped on a plane overseas.

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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?

Not at the time, I couldn't get into the rhythm of Arabic as I was too busy teaching English. Since then I have spent 3 months picking up key phrases for general conversation.

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

I wasn't worried about culture shock as I had my fill of that visiting India on many different occasions.

I was more concerned about my safety in an Arab country on the Persian Gulf.

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

Enough to annoy me the first three months

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?

There was the honeymoon phase: big salary, big adventure and then reality set in with all the daily irritations: disturbed sleep from the mosque next door, high humidity and heat, shops closed on a whim, hair raising traffic and drivers, over priced goods,etc. The realisation that it was not Arabic I needed to learn but at least two Indian languages to be able to communicate with the plumber and the delivery man. Taking short holidays to nearby European destinations helped me and eventually it dawned on me that I had been there two years and was actually enjoying it.

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.

There was anger and frustration initially. My husband's long hours meant he slept more and had little energy for socializing, that depressed me the most.

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

The food and the architecture

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Living under their form of rules and regulations

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

I have a habit of calling everyone 'Darling', it didn't sit right with one of my English students..a high ranking officer in the army!

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

Realise you have chosen to enter this new culture. (majority of times). Take a deep breath. Keep your whining to yourself or email it to folks back home. It takes time to adjust. Smile. Focus on your healthy bank account

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