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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Sydney, Australia

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, before and after. I have read about Australia and about it's history. I have as well Australian friends living in Switzerland.

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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 English at school.

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


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


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?

Still settling into the culture.

Certainly refuse to fit with ridiculous "guidelines" and generalisation on how I shall do this and that.

The honeymoon stage never occurred. Irritation to anger stage flourished with the complete rejection of superficiality.

Probably adjusting despite lots of cultural behaviour that are not part of my philosophy.

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.

Certainly homesickness and another perspective of my own country. Re-evaluating things that seemed due, now I realise that I was privileged.

A good change is that I am more careful when expressing my opinion. In Europe in general we are much more straightforward and here people always smile at you and talk behind your back a second after.

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

Beautiful landscapes, the immensity of the land, the see... summarising: the nature.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Mentality, obtuse thinking, superficiality, consumerism, lack of values, ignorance (everywhere, not just in Australia), racism, judging people by their accent, not being inclusive as they pretend to be, not being laid back as they tend to demonstrate to tourists... mate!

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


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

It is different to travel for holidays or to have a life change and practice your profession overseas.

Ideally we shall all try to understand the country we are going to. At least learn the language spoken in this country. Adapt. Be patient, with ourselves first and then for the others.

There will be obviously different ways of dealing with things and differences. We shall not try to compare (even if of course, the only evaluation measure we have, is to compare to what we know). After 3 years here, I know what I like and what I don't like. I am not obliged to comply with it and we have choices in life.

For me, despite the beauty of the country, Australia will never be home.

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Comments about this Report

Jul 11, 2011 19:10

I agree with most of this posting. I have chosen in a sense to not adjust, that is by staying more so on the fringe and practicing a high degree of self-protection (which gets exhausting in itself). That is not the best way to be, but it makes me more content. I would especially agree with the following: lack of inclusivity; superficiality; not at all laid back as is usually portrayed. I would add untrustworthiness and fear. I have found that people here are deathly afraid of coming out of their prescribed social roles, hence leading to a rather monotonous existence and lack of vibrancy in almost every corner of this country. I have found a couple of pockets of sanity for myself and pray that I won't be here forever. The culture is just too difficult if you are from a progressive, vibrant culture. There's so little depth, which is what I'm used to. The dullness really wears on me at times. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts.

Jul 11, 2011 20:32

The author only superficially touched on what bothered him or her. Sydney is a cosmopolitan city of 4 million, very progressive and with it. It is hard to understand what this author thinks is wrong. Of course, a city of 4 million is huges, so crowds could be the issue, but as noted, the country is huge.I much prefer Australia over the USA, and cannot understand why anyone would not enjoy it there.

Jul 12, 2011 01:50

I don't agree with the person who had a negative culture shock of australia. My first visit was in 1968 on RR from Viet nam. stayed in sydney for the week. loved it. I immgrtaed in 1996 after spendin 3 months in 1995. My brother sponsored me since i went through a bad divorce in california in 1994. Loved the opportunity the aussie are great worked in sydney then the hunter valley made friends traveled. In 2006 I got my australian citizenship without giving up giving up my american. spent 6 months backpacking around australia staying in youth hostels doing adventure tours with young international backpackers who loved australia wrote a book. will be retunring to australia once i get my social security in 2013 when i am 66. australia isn't going down the way the USA is with our politicians

Jul 12, 2011 02:08

Having also lived in Australia, I was shocked by the racism, lack of human dignity and attitude of - If your not an Ozzie, (and White) we are not really interested...Ever heard of Howards White Policy. An entire countries' policies are based on it. It is over-regulated, un-educated and insular in it's thinking. Dis-connected from the world, and draconian in it's view of immigration. Some of the scenery is beautiful, and if you can close your eyes to the rest, it's liveable. Imagine a country that wont' talk to the Dalia Lama....says it all...

Jul 12, 2011 10:03

Re the comment "Mentality, obtuse thinking, superficiality, consumerism, lack of values, ignorance (everywhere, not just in Australia), racism, judging people by their accent, not being inclusive as they pretend to be" I understand the comments (I have also lived in Sydney, and am now in Singapore) but think they could be applicable to many 'culture shock' moves,and many different countries. I think the key, as aluded to in one of the other comments, is to find that niche where you can meet others of similar mind. Sydney is a large cosmpolitian society of approx 4 million people - you just need to look for those with common interests, whether it be Facebook, sports, clubs and/or associations etc

Jul 12, 2011 11:07

having also lived in australia (as well as south africa and colombia AND being a US passport holder), i have to agree with the posting above. my experience was similar as i also felt judged by my accent and found it much easier to meet other immigrants and/or expats. it is completely different to travel for holidays to oz than to try to assimilate into the culture. i found the daily activities to be much more rigorous there than in south africa or colombia. people are always so surprised to hear this (and look at me as if i have gone completely mad....!). thanks for confirming my own experience...

Aug 3, 2011 19:04

I am a queenslander and identify closely with what you have said. It is very like your description in Queensland as well-sadly. I live in vanuatu at the moment and have suffered many consequences from this 8 years here. My values are now tuned to almost perfect pitch, my teeth are worn down, and my face much aged as I have learned to "let it be"and decide for myself. Thank you for reminding me that when I return to Brisbane, the shock will be just as real but in a different form.

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