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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Ajijic, Mexico

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?

I have a limited command of Spanish but get by. I have lived in Belize and Mexico for a couple of years now.

I intend to finally get into taking lessons weekly after out move from Tulum to Ajijic on Lake Chapala.

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

Mostly the lack of Spanish but with over 20 years of travel here I knew it really wasn't that big of a deal. But if you want to fully enjoy the experience you will want to learn their language so that you can be a part what's going on around you and stop having your eye's glaze over when they start talking to you

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

Not that much. You do realize just how lucky you are when you experience people living on a few dollars a week that wouldn't support you for a day.

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, we were fully prepared for it and felt we were ready to pull the plug on the USA.

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.

No never felt homesickness except for Elk hunting time back in Oregon in the fall. That was a really fun things for me to do with real good friends. The whole week of bbq, drinking, camping etc was always a blast

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

New things are always here to explore like art, Churches for their age and design, food love the food!

I've explored most of the country by car now and love it. Always feel safe but use common sense too. It many ways there's always reminders of where you came from in the diverse terrain and geography like Mexico's.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Can't really think of any past the language barrier when you can't talk to a car mechanic or shop person.

Cops have all been extremely nice and not threatening at all.

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

Remember to stop talking loudly when you aren't sure how to communicate! Their not deaf and your in their country show some respect.

Mexican people are incredible warm and nice family centered culture and they will respond warmly to you if you smile and make an effort.

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Comments about this Report

Mar 1, 2012 07:30

Beautifully put, Jason. I do often think of the daoirientotisn that is a part of culture shock as inducing a kind of regression to earlier developmental periods for the person going through this. Your utilization of Maslow's hierarchy of needs pyramid helps clarify the adult experience of this further for me. It really can feel at times like survival is at stake (even when it's not). Satisfying one's most primary bodily needs can be very challenging in a new cultural and linguistic environment (How can I sleep on this bed? How can I eat this food? Can I really get myself to use this bathroom? And, oh no, I packed all the wrong clothes!). It's no wonder I have so many cranky students my first week in China. I think the awareness you're bringing this experience has the potentially to really help the traveler move through the experience to what I have often thought of as another developmental level where higher levels of thinking (and feeling) can take place.

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