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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Feb 02, 2016

Abidjan, Ivory Coast

An expat in the Ivory Coast has found the locals to be very unfriendly. She has lived abroad for 22 years and feels that the Ivory Coast is the most difficult place that she has lived.

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?

Was told that French is the official language but was not told that they are so hostile and unfriendly to non-French speakers.

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 had learned the language but it was not enough so did another course. It is not difficult to manage anymore but the people are arrogant, can be hostile and do not know how to apologise for any mistakes they make..

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

Not really- as I have moved and lived in different countries- however having said that had no idea that Anglophone countries are so different to Francophone. Ivory Coast is particularly strange- this is not the case in Senegal- they are friendly.

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

Very significant- for example the housing standards are very poor compared to other expat locations. The place is shabby and even a lot slower than even neigbouring Ghana

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?

Difficult to settle here- the worst location in my 22 years of living overseas.

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.

Extreme irritation and anger at the arrogance of the local people. Do not know how to apologise- are extremely lazy and think they are French when they are not. Adopted all the lazy habits and quick to blame others. Difficult and unfriendly people.

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

It's okay to take an evening walk and have met some new and nice expats- international communities. No local friends at all.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Dealing with the locals and listening to their nonsense- including from maids and drivers- the attitude of the locals at all levels is the biggest issue especially when compared to Anglophone Africa- that is way progressive and a lot more respectful and less lazy.

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

Please think very carefully before moving- if you are good in French it is okay but still a challenge. Even the French have issues dealing with them so one can imagine how it is for someone who is not very comfortable in French. The Ivorions speaks a strange sort of French- grammatical errors and a heavy accent.

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Comments about this Report

Feb 8, 2016 06:06

Hello Before writing such comments and putting a whole nation into the same pot it will be necessary to learn the facts about the country. To say that the local people are lazy and unfriendly shows the naivety of the person who wrote this. If you knew the history of the country which as an expat you will try to find out first before going there, you would have known that the Ivory Coast was one of the richest country in the West Africa countries before the civil war of 2002 and a country where all western African countries needed to pass by if they wanted their businesses or political issues to be successful. It was a well respected country with affluent people!!!! Why do you think there were so many European expats there?? and many Ghanaians and Nigerian settlers?? because it was a land of opportunity before the civil war!!!! After the civil war, many rebellious people from elsewhere in the neighbouring countries such as Nigeria and so on brought in to help defeat the then political regime managed to mingle themselves in Ivorian crowd and became part of the population..and because the Ivorian did like peace instead of war, they did nothing in identifying these people!!! these are the rude and lazy ones.. Not the real Ivorians!!!!!. The history would have taught you that Ivorians and though the locals were praised for their hospitality and easy going lifestyle.. If the country has changed today, it is due to the civil war and it is not necessary the Ivorians who were rude to you because the people there have manners...the ones who came in by forcing themselves in are not!!!! so the local you met could well have been new locals!!! so please facts before anything else!!!!

Feb 8, 2016 12:14

What was involved in your preparation to visit or stay in Abidjan? Did it involve the study of their history? What is your nationality and ethnicity?

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Culture-Shock-in-AbidjanAn Expat Talks about Culture Shock & Living in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

An expat in Ivory Coast talks about the challenges and frustrations of living in Abidjan. She has lived in other countries, but never experienced culture shock as significant as this before.

An expat in Ivory Coast talks about the challenges and frustrations of living in Abidjan. She has lived in other countries, but never experienced culture shock as significant as this before. ...

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