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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Jama, Ecuador

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

Jama

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

no

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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?

learning as i go

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

no; i lived in costa rica and had traveled central america, so i have not suffered from culture shock. :D

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

in ecuador, none, but i missed the english language when i moved to costa rica. i also missed libraries. (i still miss libraries!)

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?

i have been lucky.. no honeymoon or irritation or anger, etc.. i reacted the same as i would in the usa with the same frustrations. i learned to take a book with me and read when waiting in line. or i would draw, as i'm an artist. the main thing to remember is that we are transplanting into a different culture, and one shouldn't compare it to the usa. one should take it or leave it; return home if it's too frustrating.

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.

my culture shock happens when i return to the states and see so much materialism, and where everyone is so busy paying for assets that they have no quality of leisure/life. most everyone's stressed, and they turn on the television and zone out at night instead of tuning into each other.

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

i love it all; the relaxed attitude of most people, how giving the locals are, and how trusting they are. the low cost of fruits and vegetables, of hostal rooms, almuerzos, new foods: vegetables like achojcha, soupls like viche and encebollado... last night a friend made torta de pescado- oh my goodness; it was wonderful!

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

challenging would probably be trying to communicate when one hits a blank for the right words. when tired, i have more trouble understanding and communicating, but when rested it is easier.

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

we all have our moments when we use the wrong word, like i used 'desayuno' instead of 'desnudo' when giving a presentation about The Mola Series in Bahia de Caraquez.

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

Remember that we grow most when facing difficult obstacles, and we feel so great when we've passed those personal tests and kept our honor and dignity intact! We shouldn't compare cultures and think that one is superior to another; many express concern about those who live in rustic houses, but most of those people are extremely happy. their basic needs are met, and they need little to be happy. many of the extreme poor are the ones who befriend me most with incredible kindness and acceptance. the gift of a plantain or chunk of peanut candy might not be much to some, but the fact that they openly share with a stranger is enough to win my respect forever. give a stranger a warm smile, and watch the smiles domino down the street. one doesn't need to speak the language well in order to communicate a sense of goodwill. i am lucky to be one of those who rarely experiences culture shock! z

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