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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Tbilisi, Georgia Rep

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

Tbilisi

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

I didn't have any.

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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 did (and do) not speak Georgian, but I do speak Russian, which is well spoken everywhere. Youngsters sometimes do not speak Russian, but they can speak English. I would love to learn Georgian, however, so far I never took the time for it.

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

No. I had experience in living and working in former Soviet Union countries (Latvia, Ukraine, Russia) and therefore I wasn't worried. After arrival, I only was very pleasantly surprised because Georgia is wonderful.

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

Non-existent. Certainly things work different then in my country but if I would not be able to handle that, I would never have my left country in the first place.

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 certainly got into the honeymoon stage, and I actually never left it. Naturally there were days in which things were annoying but in general my stay in Georgia was fantastic. Since I left (3 years ago - end of contract in Georgia, no possibility for extension, new job in the Netherlands), I have been back 5-10 times every year, and would kill to live there again. When I haven't been to Georgia for say, three months, I actually feel homesick.

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.

None.

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

The hospitality; the fact that complete strangers invite you for lunch, or a meal. The fact that if people offer to show you around, because they are born and raised in the town you're currently visiting, the only do it because they're proud of their country and want to show you its splendour. There are no ulterior motives.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The driving style. Traffic is dangerous - people drive like maniac. Georgia has the highest death rate in Europe.

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

Just translation/grammar mistakes. I was asked where I was from, answered 'the Netherlands' and when the baker ask where that was, in stead of saying 'that is West of Germany', I ended up saying 'that is in Western Germany".

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

Go to Georgia and see for yourself how beautiful the country is, how friendly, warm and welcoming the people are, and enjoy the delicious food!

Cigna International Health Insurance

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