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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Colombo , Sri Lanka

Submitted by DanaGhiban

Colombo, Sri Lanka Harbor

One expat shares his experiences handling culture shock in Colombo, Sri Lanka, "They smile a lot, but the smile doesn't always feel sincere."

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. However, we have lived before in India and Bangladesh.

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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. English is widely used.

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

No. After coming from Bangladesh we looked forward to come to "paradise island".

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

When we have first moved 5 years ago, it was India and it was strong shock. We have not fully realized it then but we have seen in perspective afterwards. The most important thing is to come prepared - read, read, read,ask around and come with the right mind set and will to make it work.

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 actually gone through exact these phases even at the 3rd country and move. It is fascinating. And it is worth it!

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.

Anxiety, frustration, feeling depressed, confusion, questions, excitement, interest, pride, worry, courage, fascination.

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

It is clean, people are more educated amongst south Asian people, nature is beautiful, weather is nice, great fruits and sea food.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Everything is so slow. People are very proud and stubborn at times. They smile a lot, but the smile doesn't always feel sincere. There is a lack of problem solving orientation. Prices are quite high for some items and especially for foreigners. Old cars are being driven and they are very polluting.

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

Never associate Sri Lankans with Indians.

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

As said above, come as prepared as you can and with open mind to make it work.this way the new culture will not intimidate you!

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5 Tips For Living In Sri Lanka

Expats in Sri Lanka live in a country just south of India that is regularly reported by expats as being a clean and hospitable place to create a life abroad.

Expats in Sri Lanka live in a country just south of India that is regularly reported by expats as being a clean and hospitable place to create a life abroad....

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