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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Lund, Sweden

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


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

No, not at all. I didn't know there was a thing like that and anyway didn't dream of that I should need it.

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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 knew part of it before I moved here. Actually the language was never a problem since it's half English and half German, at least as long as you do not want to write a book or work as a journalist.

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

No, didn't know about the expression even.

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

Not in the beginning, no culture shock at all. When I experienced it, it was too late. My world just exploded on me and it took me years to recover. I had to restart completely, learn like a child and now after many years finally I am able to adapt and take the foreign culture for what it is. No more struggling there but it took me years to reach this point of detachment.

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 quite a long and intense time of rejection of the new culture though it was mindless rejection, I was not ready to learn to adapt, I just thought: "This can't be true. I cannot accept this". All the mishaps just didn't fit into my worldview.

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.

Well, after my inevitable divorce I started all over again. I had my son to take care of and I just didn't want to give in. So I started to learn until I finally became a mindful being and was reborn into the new culture so to say. In the meanwhile I can adapt and even if I do not understand all of the culture I can accept it.

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

The calm of the people, the friendliness and the tolerance and their belief in the normative power of facticity. I mean that they know in the end anyone can and will adapt to their relaxed way of being.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Everything is different but no one tells you about it because it is so obvious but you do not see it. It's like a maze and you struggle and struggle and no one sees you struggling.

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

Lots and lots everyday. From behaving the wrong way to inviting people at the wrong time of the day (and being surprised when they were not happy about being woken on a Saturday morning) to being too friendly with my wife's friends.

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

Well, if you get a chance to take some intercultural training grab it and hold on to it. It doesn't matter where you come from you will need it - badly.

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