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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
One expat in Nice, France discusses the culture shock she experienced when moving there. In France, she appreciates the quality of life, taking time to enjoy simple things like a cup of coffee at a cafe, lunch, etc.
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?
Not formally, but I read a book on cultural differences.
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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?
Yes, I studied French before moving, but living in the country is the best way to improve language skills.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Not really - more about learning the bureaucratic system.
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How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Not very, having traveled to France many times and knowing the culture pretty well.
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?
The irritation to anger phase came from having to go the Prefecture yearly to renew my visa, an unorganized process that I never adjusted to!
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.
Increased awareness of others, as I live in a multi-cultural city.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
Quality of life, taking time to enjoy simple things like a cup of coffee at a cafe, lunch, etc.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Dealing with the archaic bureaucracy
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
Not that I can remember off hand. May be something posted on my blog, 24/7 in France.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Do your homework before you travel!
Expats in Nice live in a part of country that attracts a lot of tourists. If you can manage the crowds and find some way to enjoy all of the culture Nice has to offer, it might be the perfect place for you.
Expats often ask if health insurance is free in France or if you need health insurance to go to France. Here is basic information about the French healthcare system.
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Comments about this Report
Very insightful report. Yes, the quality of life still exists in France but you have to leave Paris to find it.
The quality of healthcare is also better in CHUs in the big cities in province (I have tried both).
And I totally agree: dealing with the French bureaucracy is exasperating. But I had pretty bad experiences in the US too--trying to have my driver's licence renewed for instance.
Your post raised the issue of "health care insurance" needed by Americans who live in France. Any recommendations? Who's the "best" provider of insurance and how to learn what's necessary and what's covered? Thanks.
The French bureaucracy is no worse than anywhere else. Not knowing the language and how it works is what makes it difficult. It is the same wherever you go. I married an American and moved there, the bureaucracy there was a nightmare. I applied for a Green Card and the lines to get the application forms were very long, after filling in the dossier, I went to present the paperwork. After a three hour wait I was told my Husband had to accompany me. I said he could just take off work on the off chance we would be seen that day so the young lady gave me an appointment. We turned up on the day and time walked up the stairs past a line that was a good fifty yards long and out of the front door. We went to the head of the line and was told to go to the back. We explained that we had an appointment, the disagreeable man behind the counter said they didn't have an appointment system and to go away. Unfortunately for him, my husband worked for the State and knew the procedure, and immediately demanded to see his supervisor. She took us inside and I got my Green card, but had I not had him with me I would have joined the rest of the hundred or so people waiting to be seen. I have never had any such problem in France.
The problem is we never know how bad our own bureaucracy for immigrants is because we as citizens never deal with it.
My culture shock when going to America was huge, I had no idea what to expect. Going to France I studied the concept and have never felt any culture shock at all. Even though I still struggle with French.