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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Oradea, Romania

Jun 12, 2017

Oradea, Romania

An expat describes life in Oradea, which is about 15 minutes from the border to Hungary. Many of Oradea's almost 200,000 residents speak both Hungarian and Romanian.

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?

No. I didn't think it will be necessary but I was wrong. I could of used more information etc.

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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! Oradea is only about 15 km from the Hungarian border and it used to be a Hungarian town so many signs are in both Romanian and Hungarian. The population of the city is heavily dual speakers!

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

No! Not too much. I figured it is in Europe and the adjustment won't be too bad.

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

The culture shock was gradual in my case. Since I spoke some Hungarian and English of course I didn't think it will be a big deal. In Oradea that was mostly true but as I explored deeper in Romania it was a different story!

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?

Yes I suppose you can say it was gradual. The reality only hits you after about 2 or 3 months when you have to deal more with bureaucracy and the authorities by enlarge. Should note that in Oradea there is a fairly new requirement that ALL government offices have to have a Hungarian speaker on staff. Also many Romanians do speak at least a few words.

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.

Definitely some of the "homesickness" was going on, LOL! For me it took more than 6 months to decide if I made the right choice. Still not sure if I should move one country to the West or what!

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

Romania has come a long way and at least from what I seen is very "westernized"! Many speak at least two languages unless you deal with the less educated or the country folks.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Romania is seen and I think rightfully so as a "corrupt" country. The fairly new president is trying to change that but he is getting a lot of resistance.

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

Embarrassing yes! I tried to ask a man for directions that was facing the building. I only realized that he was "relieving" himself so when he turned around zipping himself up I forgot what I was going to ask him! LOL!

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

Please read up on your country of choice. Do a little historical search. Find out what the education level is and what languages are spoken. Find out about the politics, ethnic differences and bureaucracy of the target country. The talk with some expats on line and in my case with some Romanians living in the US. It will be time well spent!

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