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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Ramat Gan, Israel

Jul 16, 2021
Submitted by expatandrea

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

Ramat Gan

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

We sort of think as Jews that we share a culture, but make no mistake, this is the Middle East.

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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 studied Hebrew before coming and again after we got here. We are older, but we found it impossible to learn more than the basics. If there is important communication to be had, there was always some way to do it in English.

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

Not really.

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

Way more culture shock than I expected. The country is not run by an Ashkenazi mindset, if you will. Israel has an extremely low recycling rate, so you see a zillion plastic bottles in trash cans (not to mention on the streets). And it's so much dirtier than I ever imagined. I spent more time in J'lem before moving because my daughter lived there. Ramat Gan/Tel Aviv is incredibly dirty and noisy. People range from incredibly nice and helpful to insanely rude. But there is what I call a very 'ends justify the means' mentality here.

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?

I did have a bit of a honeymoon phase and then became more and more bothered by is. Almost 4 years in, I really can't stand it.

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

Most people are nice and will help if they can. They are happy to speak English if they can.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Inefficiency. Dirtiness. Extremely aggressive rudeness on occasion (ex. bus drivers screaming and threatening you) Cars parking on sidewalks and in the right driving lane--for real.

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

I think if someone moves to a very Anglo area, or if you're religious and move to a religious community, you are going to have an easier time.

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