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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Suva, Fiji

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

Suva

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

No

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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, English is sufficient in Fiji.

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

No, have tried the process several times in other countries before.

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

Not crucial, but it always has an impact.

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?

Definitely, after one month here, I guess we are presently entering stage two, but we really try to remain positive and optimistic - focusing on that we have been in worse places...

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.

We usually tend to become slightly frustrated and upset when we witness stupid bureaucracy in the check in process - which happens very frequent in this type of life

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

The kind and warm-hearted approach from the (Indigenous) Fijian people as well as the relative availability of many items and infrastructure areas (compared to our previous duty stations)

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

That most things here are owned, operated and controlled by the Indian minority (with whom we have already had a negative experience while living in India)

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

Not really! We did our homework to avoid any such occurrences (through lots of native friends).

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

Be careful, it is fairly easy to offend or step on toes in the traditional Fijian culture. Expect that many things (e.g. fast food chains) may sound like "at home" but definitely doesn't look like! Remember that this is an isolated island and that many items can be in shortage due to the high demand, and must be shipped from abroad.

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