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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Courbevoie, France

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?


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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?

Not planning to learn the language

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


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

I merely dislike most of how things are organized in France. I prefer freedom which is lacking here. I still shop by phone in the USA and have everything sent to me. I refuse to shop in France for anything except medical care and food.

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?

No. There was never a "honeymoon stage", as I moved to France due to the economic crisis.I

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.

I notice I get angry when I order something, pay for it, and they refuse to return your money when the product is defective or improperly prepared.

I also dislike the lack of customer service here. I understand all transactions here must be final in order for the state to be certain of its revenue. This is why I refuse to shop in France.

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

I like they are helpful when you are lost on the streets. I also like they have helped my 87 year old grandfather when he goes shopping. I also appreciate that all members of the family are invited to dinner.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Just getting used to the French who are always afraid and scared. This is due to their training to be docile to authority. France is run like a civilian military, so you have to do things accordingly, but all is administered by uncaring state agents. I

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

I dared to think the stores would be open daily, so often I forget and show up at the bakery when it is closed.

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

It's really easy to know about another culture these days. Everything is knowable by doing your homework before you go.

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Comments about this Report

Jul 16, 2011 02:47

I am horrified by your responses. We have lived in France for the last 14 year. It seems to me that you are just not willing to take on the French lifestyle. Everywhere in the world one goes, one has to deal with paperwork and admin. The French are generally friendly and helpful people. Their enjoyment of life is important to them. They are also extremely hospitable and willing to help. As for being afraid and scared... who are you meeting? As for shopping... it's no different in any other country. I am sorry your experiences are so negative, but then I find the US over regulated and structured.

Jul 18, 2011 11:24

If this person is so fired up about his dislikes for France and the French, perhaps he should move. In my opinion he has all of the characteristics of the so called Ugly American, or whatever nationality he is.

Jan 2, 2013 14:49

Why go to France if dislike it somuch? Not learn the language? That's a sure sign of this person's attitude!!

Jan 3, 2013 13:49

I get what everyone is saying about "why go to France if you don't like it?" and similar comments, but I also think it's unrealistic to think everyone is going to like living abroad. People move overseas for complicated reasons sometimes, and it doesn't mean they have to like it. This isn't a perfect world.

Jan 4, 2013 16:27

What you may really be suffering from is the recognition that the French do not need you, or your money. There are many poorer nations (economically) that cater to foreigners because they like the foreign exchange. That's why you can't get any American Fries in France.

Jan 11, 2013 19:11

You said you moved to France due to economic crisis. In what areas are living expenses less? We are considering moving to the L-R region from Dallas. Thanks!

Aug 14, 2013 11:47

This paranoid attitude is a surefire way to be disliked and snubbed by most French people: can't you even try to learn a few French words? The French will be very appreciative if you try to speak even garbled French. When I lived in Morocco, I learned enough Arabic to get by, I enjoyed doing it, I understood better what was going around me, I could shop and bargain, and it made it easier to be accepted locally. And your ignorance of the basics of French history would be amusing if it was not expressing so much prejudice and fear: no the French people are not trained to be docile to authority: quite the opposite--unfortunately--France has to be the Western country with the highest number of revolutions, riots etc. Still now, one of the biggest problems here are the frequent strikes, specially in the "fonction publique" (State bureaucrats); frankly, I would love it if the French became more respectful of authority, as they tend to be less disciplined, more anarchic than Northern Europeans. Regarding your refusal to shop in France except for food, it's bordering on the absurd. Based on the contempt you are expressing , and your fear and distrust of everything and everyone here, you are going to be very unhappy in France. Don't be surprised if the French do not treat you well, this would be a totally understandable reaction..

Jun 11, 2014 04:56

I read your comments and wanted to reply. I have been here for a year and moved here for my French husband (who is wonderful), but it has been much of the same experience you wrote about. It has been over a year and I did find good employment quickly but everything else is sub par. I agree with you shopping and want to suggest to try to go to Germany where there is much more of a selection and things are priced more reasonably. I think there are also "American" and "UK" stores in Munich and Nuremberg if you want to purchase something from your home. I hope everything gets better for you and try not to take other people's bashing your comments to heart. Feeling isolated is tough enough, none the less a forum that is not supportive. Try to find expat groups in your area too. There aren't any in mine - LOL!

Oct 8, 2014 16:07

What type of individual moves to a country, then refuses to learn the language, then complains about said country? An appalling post showing a dreadful attitude - the term "ugly American" comes instantly to mind.

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