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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Doha, Qatar

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?

No, I have lived abroad for many years.

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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 do not speak Arabic. I know enough to get by on. I have a few Arabic speaking friends, and they are trying to teach me. :)

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

No, not really.

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

My first abroad assignment was to Nigeria. It was quite shocking! However we survived. You have to look for the good in every society. If you only dwell on the negative things in your life (no matter where you are) you will not be a happy person.

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, I have been through most of the stages. However, when you are aware of the stages, you know why you feel the way you do at each stage, and you know that you are not alone.

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.

Mostly depression, however it was only short term and onlly happened on our first assignment.

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

A new culture is a new learning experience. It is so fun to learn how other people live and what their customes are. I have learned that different is good. this world is not for everyone to be identical.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Every country have something that is challenging, even my own culture has somethings that bother me. In Nigeria it is the fact that you can not drive yourself, and women are generally not listened to at all! In The Netherlands it is their unfriendliness. No such thing as hospitality. I think they erased that word from their dictionary. In Qatar, it is (again that women are not respected) ingrained in their culture that men are superior. However the Qatari are waking up and realizing that they can be more powerful than men.

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

I tried to shake the hand of a Qatari man. He told me that he did not shake the hands of women.

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

Yes, keep a positive attitude. All things can be accomplished with a positive attitude. Plus, it will keep the family happy. Look at situations as they are different. there is nothing wrong with different. Also, other people will want to be around you, and you will make friends faster.

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