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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in West Clare, Ireland

Dec 12, 2016


Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland

An expat in West Clare, Ireland describes life there as kinder, simpler and slower. She advises newcomers to adapt to this new way of life rather than try to teach locals how to be faster and more efficient (an American trait the Irish typically don't admire).

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

West Clare

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

Visited 26x's before making the big move. My "training" was adapting and learning about the culture over a long period of time. 9 years actually. Some visits were just a week, one stay lasted 6 months. I have dual citizenship due to a grandparent being born here. This allowed me more than 90 days.

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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?

N/a although the terminology here can be very, very different and conversational English is very different!

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

No. I just worried about guest who came to visit. The Irish I know "tolerate" what they consider to be typical American behaviour. Loud, pushy, know-it-all attitudes which yes, a lot of Americans do display. But thankfully not everyone.

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

Very little. In going to purchase a car one salesman said he'd like to wait for my husband before talking to ME about MY purchasing a car for MYSELF. At another dealership my husband was given a price for a previously owned car that was €3k less than what j was told. Strangely, most previously owned cars are not priced on the windscreen.

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?

No, though this is probably due to so many years of traveling here and living for 6 months.

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! It's been a year and we are still happy out!

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

Living in the west of Ireland is very different than other areas. Still no traffic lights, street lights, one shop for milk, lottery, solid fuel and petrol. In general everyone is friendly, willing to help, folks call in for tea, bring soup if you're under the weather and life is just much slower, simpler, kinder.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Trusting new friends who are bit difficult to get truly close to. Though everyone is always there to smile and be kind. Small villages consist of only a hand full of families who all seem to be related. If you do get it thigh you'll know it. You'll feel it. And you're in for life!

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

Well the typical first mistake is always making a comment or extending an invitation including the word "ride" vs "drive". Ie...Can I get a ride? Would you like a ride? Ride here is a sex act. Drive means a lift in the car!

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

When you move to any new culture adapt to their way of life. Don't try to influenced them with yours! No one wants to know how American's do things more efficiently, faster, quicker, better. That's a trait that most European countries, UK, Ireland do not admire in Americans. Relax, learn a different way. Things are going to look different, taste different, drive different, etc... You are living in a different country. Embrace it or go back!

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