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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Kfar Saba, Israel

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

Kfar Saba

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

I had many Israeli friends in America. My boyfriend is Jewish/Israeli.

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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 do not speak fluent Hebrew yet. It would be so helpful to learn some of the language before you move. The more the better! I am making an attempt to learn the language now that I live here.

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

I was a bit worried, because I have lived abroad before (in another country), and I remember the stages of culture shock. It always happens to me and it's something I cannot control.

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

I would say I experienced moderate culture shock. I am definately going through all the "stages". I have lived here over half a year and I am still working through it.

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 am still in between the "irritation" and "rejection" stage. I am however learning everyday. It helps to have friends and family willing to talk. You have to reach out to people in your new enviroment, and hopefully they are a kind hearted people. I was lucky to move to a place (Israel) where so many people are kind, accepting and warm.

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 often get irritated when I can't find something here that I would be able to go to the store and pick up in America. Or if I'm in the store, and I cannot read a label thats in Hebrew. It's frustrating to have to learn a new language, and I started to reject it in the beginning saying "maybe I don't even like the language, and don't wish to learn at all". even though I like it here, I get severly homesick a couple times a month. Sometimes I miss my home and family so much I cry. The homesickness tends to get worse as time goes on.I have to keep myself very busy or I tend to get bored and depressed. It helps to be able to work in your new place. To find a place you fit in, and some friends.

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

The people here are so warm. They will not trust you at first, but when you prove to them you are a nice person, they will open up to you. Most people have learned English from an early age here, and are often eager to speak to you in English. This was so helpful and crucial when I first came here.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Finding someone that speaks english, you can call anytime if you have questions about anything. Most people here grew up together, so they are not as quick to make new best friends. If you can find a nice group of friends it makes life 1,000 times easier. Also if you don't speak the language, employment can be difficult in more rural parts. Closer to the city, easier to get a job in only english. And not feeling "dumb" because you don't know something. A different country can be a different world.

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

Sometimes I still go to a store on Friday night/Saturday to find it closed for Shabat, or one of the many Israeli/Jewish holidays I was unaware of.

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

If you are very attached to your home, you must go back home once or twice a year. I go home to my family in the states every year for Christmas. Also keep in good contact with friends and family back home. One of the most important ways is to set up an inexpensive landline for international calling so you can call home whenever you want. Internet chatting and emails are free, and also very helpful. Fight depression by having fun exploring your new environment, and meeting people. Stay busy!

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