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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Corfu, Greece

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

Corfu

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

No, only my own research, as limited as it was.

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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?

Yes, I speak the language. I made a real effort to pick up the local expressions and a lot of vocabulary to help me ask for things. I have taught myself to use a joint keyboard and now touch type in Greek.

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

I didn't really think about it.

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

Quite significant really, it took me a while to adjust to the differences.

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 didn't go through those stages, I seemed to find ones that were personal to me and my circumstances.

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.

My husband found it hard to adjust to some things in the beginning and it made it harder for me to adjust for a while. It stressed me out.

Then, I realised I could help him adjust by helping with the language and bureaucracy he had to deal with, sometimes dealing with it on my own. It just made me more determined to learn how to do things the Greek way.

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

I love the close family atmosphere and the way Greeks make wonderful friends if you treat them with respect and love.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Getting to grips with red tape and the way things are done here, like paperwork. The way the rules change all the time make it very confusing at times.

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

I once almost offered someone a Potana instead of a Potiri......stopped myself just in time! Then I realised I did know enough Greek to spot the difference in the words lol

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

Prepare yourself in advance as much as you can, get documents sorted before you move to Greece, and make sure you know what you are going to do, where you are going to live and how you are going to cope with strange situations before you leave for Greece. Try to learn about the community and culture of the area you will be living in and make contact with groups in advance. It will help you integrate easier.

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If you're not involved in our Greece Forum, it's a great place to meet others in your area, get answers to questions about moving to Greece or offer advice to a newcomer.

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