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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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

Kuala Lumpur

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?

No but I am currently taking Mandarin classes (Chinese) which is helping

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

A little bit

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

Not at first but the annoyances got to us after a few months

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?

Agree with all of these. Need to make plans for the future (e.g. look at other living arrangements to help adjust we felt.

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.

Anger, depression and frustration the big one. Not so much homesick but missing friends and family a lot

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

Finger on the pulse with the latest happenings. Potential to go overseas easier (although we found not so much driving domestically like we had thought)

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The SMOG!!! The TRAFFIC!!! and the POLLUTION!! Everyone just throws rubbish about and they don't care about the environment. Very sad. Also missing access to the outdoors (too hot here and too many snakes and bugs that bite) and playing sport.

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

Probably do all the time and just don't realise! Lost in translation happens a lot when trying to communicate something

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

Keep your eye on the future - make plans for the local environment (e.g. new living arrangements) even if you don't want to stay for a long time. It wasn't until we started looking at other areas to live and making an effort to create ties to the place that we started to enjoy ourselves more. Don't keep comparing to where you have come from - its just the way it is over here and you can't necessarily find logic in it. Once this is accepted things get easier

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