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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Athens, Greece

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?

Yes. After the move.

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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 learned Greek. It's a 30 year process, so I did 10 years before arriving and I'm continuing now that I'm here.

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

Slightly. I was already living abroad (Belgium).

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

Very significant. I had lived abroad in three countries in my life and integrated very well. It was the first time in my life where I felt like an expat living in an unforgivingly monocultural society.

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?

Yes and the stages keep coming back on a regular basis as well.

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.

Anger, frustration, homesickness, helplessness

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

Family and friends are warm, generous, ethical, talented, sophisticated.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The politics, sense of righteousness, lawlessness, outright hostility to anything foreign, unmistakably corrupt system, terrible driving and parking culture that goes completely unchallenged. It's the wild west when they think they belong to civilization

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

Trying to drive in Athens is a cultural blunder in itself

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

Do more "market research" on your destination before arriving and check the findings with people you know who live there. If it appears too much, plan "coping mechanisms" before moving.

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Comments about this Report

Aug 9, 2015 14:42

I moved to Athens actually in october last year, and although some points like the way the driving is here can be a cultural shock but no worse than when i used to drive my self through france,italy and portugal as a long distance lorry driver,but i am pleased to say as for alot of other things, i have an amazing greek wife and son, and everyone that i have met and been introduced too,have actually aprt from a very few select ons been very friendly ,helpful,and kind,its hard to settle anywhere if you dont know the language but i am always trying and even now only just still learning the basics,but in general i love the country and the people and hoping to meet alot of others including ex=pats like myself

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