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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in San Salvador, El Salvador

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

San Salvador

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

We started learning a few months before we arrived in El Salvador and continue to study on the computer and with a private tutor.

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

A little bit. Underestimated some things and overestimated others.

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

Not that much. Time is very relative here but everyone is very friendly and helpful.

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?

We had been to El Salvador many times before and were a bit used to it.

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.

Frustration and stress for sure. Usually it is caused by big things like trying to buy a car, get internet service or other big things. daily life is pretty chill here.

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

Friends are much closer and far more real in Central America and El Salvador in particular. Driving is actually usually much easier and faster. Prices are of course much lower on many things. We love the openness and friendliness of everyone.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Relativity of time. Communication. Getting directions to anywhere is nearly impossible unless you already know how to get there.

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

Way too many to write down. A good one is when I told my Salvadoran male friend that "tengo hombre hambre" which basically means "I am hungry for a man" there was some awkward silence followed by loud laughter.

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

Learn the language! Relax and release your expectations. Go with the flow and enjoy it. That is why you are there and not somewhere else

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