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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

Port of Spain, Trinidad

At first the novelty of a new location especially in the sun after cold UK is exciting but once you settle in to routine you start to miss home, friends and family and feel quite isolated for a while.

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

Port of Spain

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?

Same language

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

A little

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

Mild as was prepared for the culture shock but harder for the children.

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. At first the novelty of a new location especially in the sun after cold UK is exciting but once you settle in to routine you start to miss home, friends and family and feel quite isolated for a while.

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.

Comfort eating! Irritable with spouse, Homesickness

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

Laid back attitude of locals, Fun vibe

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Unfriendly, poor customer service

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

On many occasions did not understand what was being said, despite understanding English! Thought that "lime" referred to a fruit - not to party!

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

Expect culture shock and prepare for it. Recognise the stages and work through them. Make friends with locals. Find activities where you will meet range of people - join a course, club etc. Take exercise. Get out and see what is around you - don't stay indoors feeling sorry for yourself. Talk about how you feel.

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Comments about this Report

Feb 6, 2014 11:41

I live in Canada and I am wonder if expats sometimes try to be the one to approach the locals. Most locals will hardly approach a foreigner if they are looking for friends. Maybe a friendly gesture if you meet decent people might bridge the gap. I don't mean that you just walk up to people, but maybe if you are at an event, it might be a good idea to strike up a conversation and see where it goes. I am sure that after a while expats could notice the different types like they would at home.

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