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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong

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

Kwun Tong

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

None, I have visited Asia many times before as a tourist which is completely different than living and surviving.

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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?

In Hong Kong they mostly speak Cantonese, Mandarin and English. I do speak English, Spanish and Portuguese. Spanish and Portuguese of no use here cause most either speak Cantonese or English.

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

Not really cause I have lived in other parts of the world and I have read up on the culture.

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

It is big, bigger than I thought. Expats in the small expat watering holes will be friendly but less friendly out about with the locals. Out of the expat circles language will be an issue. Also walking Etiquette and no respect when you are in line. most will just push in front of me and I am 6 feet 2 inches. Also I notice people worry about strangers more.So it has become more of a cultural shock the longer I have been here.

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, at the beginning all was ok but I knew it will be different. First I have no car here because having a car is very expensive. The apartment is 15% the size of what I was living in back in USA. The city is very densely crowded it is as if I am in a major concert everyday.

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.

Patience has been tested a lot. Issues with dog owners allowing their dogs pee on the side walk is not easy to see, smell and walk around.Hard to get the food I would like if I am not living in the expat areas of the city.

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

They can easily stand face to face, back to face face to back in order to get somewhere. On a train, bus and elevator they will kindly pack the area of standing only to get to where they want to go without getting upset. Many places to get food depending where you are at. In Kwun Tong I can easily get local food but to get western will be a long walk.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Patience, walking into a crowd correctly, standing still on a train for one hour, learning the language so I can communicate better.

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

Yes, like allowing another the right of way will draw a stare. Opening a door will be different and can slow things down to the people behind me. Showing too much emotion in a game of basketball can make others nervous.

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

I would say do not expect things to be like home and getting upset will only hurt yourself. Take things as they are and breath deeply and smile. If you get through this you will be ten times stronger then you were before.

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Comments about this Report

Jun 1, 2011 02:29

Ha ha ha, Hong Kong in many ways is "China light". Yes, standing is a que is not considered a virtue. People have no time to waste and waiting is considered a waiste of time. When I was lining up in shops in Mainland China with just two or three people in front of me bevore the cashier, ten or 15 minutes later there might have been four or five people in front of me with the little granny who was just behind me now beuing in front of me. Now, how did that happen? And exiting or entering a bus cen be good practice for a Muay Thai championship. More than once it happened that the incoming tide liftes me up and banged my head agains the upper frame of the door. Well, I learned and exited with my head between my shoulders, my arms in front of my chest and with a kind of high step. And - oh wonder - it worked. No had banging any more. But hey, isn't it also a wonderful place with all the new and tasty food and many people also helping?

Jun 1, 2011 02:33

So many times I received help from people who were not responsible to help and were not obliged to do so. What is a bit strange is that ofen those folks who are suppposed to do something don't do it, leading to a problem for a foreigner, but then someone else comes to the rescue and the whole issue gets resolved somehow. Over all, the positive events by far outnumber the negative events. Just don't judge and make "better vs worse" comparisons but accept that things are different and adapt to that different life. Then you can have a very good life there. Take the good and ignore the bad, avoid it, go around it, don't bother about it. After a while, you will know where to find the good and how to get around all the bad.

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