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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Cozumel, Mexico

Dec 05, 2020


Cozumel, Mexico

An expat in Cozumel appreciates that good friendships feel like family, the community sticks together and the family-oriented culture.

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

Cozumel

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

Not really, I had been traveling here since the 8o's and had a support system in place.

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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 Spanglish, actually a bad Spanish. I have tried to learn better but due to a stroke, I have difficulty with all languages. I do have enough Spanish to live here.

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

Not at all. I had been visiting for so long, extended visits, that I felt quite comfortable. The hardest thing to get used to was the long waits to get something done. If a plumber says he will be there manana, it actually does not mean tomorrow, it just means "not today".

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

Not significant at all. I have many Mexican friends who step in when I need that extra help.

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?

The biggest adjustment I had was being away from my family. Over the years, other family members have moved here and that has been a big help.

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.

A touch of homesickness, even now 15 years later. My health has actually improved, both physically and mentally.

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

1. The friendliness of the people.

2. How they stick together as a community in emergencies, like the aftermath of a hurricane, and even pulling together to feed the people during the economic hardship of COVID-19.

3 How people are family oriented here. Grandma does not go to a nursing home, she remains in the family.

4. Being considered part of the family after a good friendship is formed.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The language at times.

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

Of course. When speaking Spanish, I often make funny mistakes. Like calling my kitchen a pig or saying I am Horney instead of I am hot.

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

Just go with the flow. Take everything in stride. Do not feel rushed to get something done, you can not make it go any faster than the system allows. DO NOT use or even think the phrase "well this is not the way it is done at home!". You are in a new home and how things were done in your old place, has no bearing here.

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Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Cozumel.

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