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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?

Athens

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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Expats in Greece may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, a leader in international insurance for expatriates. Allianz's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Their flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget..

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).

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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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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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