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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Tequisquiapan, Mexico

Submitted by jreytequis

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

Tequisquiapan

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

No, I did not have any cross cultural training either before or after moving. My only contact, after much research on Tequisquiapan, was an American man and his Chilean wife.

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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 had no knowledge of the Spanish language before moving. I am presently enrolled in Spanish language classes 5 days weekly. It's fun and it certainly helps to become and to feel more a part of the community.

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

No, I was not worried. As it is said "Ignorance is bliss". I was in for a big surprise.

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

Fortuntely, my personality is one of curiosity and I truly embrace new and different experiences. I would say that I knew things would be different, and I was mentally prepared for a big change in my life. I've learned throughout my entire life that no matter how prepared you "think" you are.....there's so much more that you could have never considered. So, you take those challenges one at a time.

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 went through most of those with one exception. I did not feel a "rejection of the culture". I made a choice to move into the culture. I simply did not realize that the English language was so limited here, that I literally could not understand, speak or know what I was hearing. That was very frustrating, but a good dictionary and immediately signing up for language classes made it fun.

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 never been homesick. In the very beginning I felt extremely isolated due to the language barrier. Isolation brought on depression and frustration. But..when problems arise from your own decisions, you have to figure out a way to solve the problem. So, I began to explore and utilize SpanishDict.com....this helped me write out full paragraphs of things I wanted to say and I would read my words to people to communicate. It raised lots of smiles and people began to remember me and help me in many ways.

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

I appreciate the "family unit" the most. It mirrors the way things must have been with early migration to the U.S. during and after WWII. I love the ingenuity of the Mexican people. I enjoy seeing their appreciation when you show enthusiam for a job well done. I love that the women cook everything from scratch....little if any pre-cooked foods. Most of all, I truly enjoy the simplicity of life. I find I have a smile on my face most of the time. No Drama (except for the novelas)! Life is good.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

A delightful challenge is to let go of the "pressue cooker" lifestyle which I lived while climbing the ladder of success. The language, until I learn more, is still slightly a challenge. And, since I really enjoy knowing what's going on in the country in which I live, I really find it challenging that I don't understand the politics of the county. Lastly, I find it very difficult to find other expats to socialize with. Where are you all hiding?

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

Yes. I was speaking with a bi-lingual Mexican man and I told him that I was very happy because people here must think I am Mexican. He asked me why I felt that way. I said "Well..everyone freely and openly just start speaking to me in Spanish, so they must think I'm Mexican". He looked at me with a smile and said "That's because they don't know how to speak English" Oh boy, did I feel silly....we had a really good laugh at that one!

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

Yes. Before anyone decides to move anywhere you MUST either know someone who can help you through the language barrier or move to a place you are certain that there are enough people who speak your language. That was what I consider to be my biggest blunder.

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