Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
Aug 15, 2016
An expat in Peniche, Portugal talks about moving to Peniche and the culture shock he experienced. He never experienced "shock" as such. However, little things, experienced over months and months, seeped in and made him realized the cultural differences.
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?
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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 had ambitious (and fanciful) plans to learn Portuguese right after moving. Followed four months in a local school. It's now been 3 years and I can hardly order a meal in a restaurant.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Not sufficiently concerned.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
It went smoothly in the beginning. It's little things, experienced over months and months, that seep in and make you realize the cultural differences (I wouldn't speak of a 'shock')
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?
That's exactly what I was trying to get at above.
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.
None of the above. But I realize that, owing to my appearance (6ft 5, very thin, white hair), I cannot dream of becoming physically assimilated in a land of dark hair, stocky people. I'm convinced the cultural assimilation would be easier if I were stocky and dark-haired.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
Easy-going people, courageous, hospitable, poetry lovers.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
People, especially in this part of the country, are pretty tough, they lack refinement and subtlety.
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