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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in The Hague, Netherlands

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

The Hague

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

No it wasn't any trainings orginized for us (me, husband and kids) or even after moving to Netherlands.

Though I think it would be really helpfull. Now we are moved back home. So I look at those first moments with far sad memories. Nevertheless I love my experience and miss Netherlands very much.

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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?

They do speak Dutch. And it sounded very interesting for us. It's sounds like german and english. You can find some very similar words. I didn't want to learn it at first 5 months, but after when I met a kazakh girl married to dutchman she encouraged me to learn. Now when one an a half year left I can understand it very well, but no speaking. And I didn't attend any courses. Only by speaking to local dutch people I picked up some words.

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

I simply didn't know that we will experience such a thing like "culture shock". Well I knew that it will take some time to settle in and get used to everything. But never thought it will be hard as it was.

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Let the Adventure Begin! E-Newsletter

Let the Adventure Begin! is our premium weekly relocation newsletter that guides you step-by-step through your international move. The weekly newsletter begins 8 months before your move and runs through your first 4 months abroad. For US $29.99, you'll receive an e-mail on Wednesday with tips and advice tailored to where you are in the relocation and settling-in process.

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

Oh, it was really hard. People seemed very cold and unfriendly. Though now I know it's not like that at all.

My biggest shock was smallest amount of couples with children. No parks for kids to play, but a lot of places to go with pets. And when I could see woman strolling pushchair with dog sitting inside. Now it is funny when I remember all that facts.

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?

Deffinetely we went through all of those stages. In one of that stages when I was bitterly off I have found this site and read about culture shock. So I knew which stages are coming and what we are experiencing. It was very helpfull, because you could see that it happence almost with every expat.

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 think mostly I felt anger, depression and of course homesickness. Fortunately we met a lot of kazakh families who lived there before we moved. And they helped us with lots of information. Regarding doctors, schools and markets to use. For me it was really helpful. I could chat to wives like me. We could chat about differences and how to settle in. How to make it easier. So that I finally found myself. I have orginized small club. Where we could meet and do some stuff as yoga, dancing, ladies night out evenings... It was wonderful.

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

I like the whole idea of bike riding. The transportation is very quick and easy. I like most drinking tea or coffee somewhere outside when it is sunny. And people are sunny and with t-shirts even if it is +16, but it is sunny.

Like there getting around when by very unimportant reason. Or how they sing in the pubs their funny dutch songs with holding drinks in one hand and trying to dance with another. Yeah! They are fun loving people in whatever age. That's what I like in them!

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Most challenging thing is that you have to wait for two or three or four weeks until you finally get something. When you want to make an appintment wait one week, you want to order something wait one month...maybe I am too exaggerate things, but for me it seemed sooo long.

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

It was when I was coming by trian from Amsterdam to The Hague. One dutch woman tried to speak in Indonesian language to me. It was funny at the first place, cause I looked so stupid trying to find what she is talking about. And when I said: Sorry I don't understand. She explained that she spoke Indonesian to me. I said that we are from Kazakhstan and we do speak russian and kazakh. She just smiled and faced towards the door. Somehow embarrassing and funny.

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

I would advice to try to learn some simple phrases of dutch. I think it will be helpfull. And to look through internet to find your local clubs maybe or smth like that. Because they could help you with some information. So that you could feel yourself comfortable, confident. That you are not the only one who is experiencing it. And the most important thing is don't try to be like them. Be yourself, no one cares about you being newcomer. So you don't;)

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