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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Algiers, Algeria

Jun 03, 2014

Algiers, Algeria

A Dutch woman who moved to Algiers said that it took her awhile realise what it was exactly that made it so difficult for her to live in Algeria. She now knows that it's her sense of freedom which she seems to have lost.

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?

I had visited Algeria lots of times before moving there.

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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?

I speak French fluently and have tried to pick up as much of the local language as possible but I really struggle with the pronunciation and as I look very foreign people don't expect me to speak their dialect and just stare at me as a result.

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

Yes, but I was more concerned about how my children would manage as they had previously lived in London and France.

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

It took awhile for me to realise what it was exactly that made it so difficult for me to live in Algeria. I now know it's my sense of freedom which I seem to have lost. I'm looked at everywhere I go.. stared at... and there are lots of things I can not do just because society does not accept it Silly things like walking my dog. Or walking anywhere really.

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?

Not sure about the different stages. I feel that I have more or less settled in now but it's not easy and I have had to compromise a lot .

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.

Frustration and really, really missing all the things I used to take for granted.

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

Weather is great ... You can live and eat very well in Algeria if you have your own home and a job. It's a beautiful country and there are some amazing places to visit.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Understanding that my logic does not apply. People here are very emotional. Everything becomes very dramatic very quickly and then settles down even quicker whilst my head is still spinning.

People are very friendly and welcoming when you are visiting they are less happy for you to stay around indefinitely.

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

Can't think of anything right now

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

Do not compare your new country with what you are used to ... take it for what it is and try and find a way for you to enjoy the positives it has to offer.

Be patient and remind yourself that you are the one that needs to adapt.

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