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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Nueva Gorgona, Coronado, Panama

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

Nueva Gorgona, Coronado

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

Yes, I read International Livings Panama 101 guide and attended a live International Living Conference in Las Vegas.. Before moving I came to Panama and I took a tour through Panama Relocation Tours.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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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?

No, I don't speak much Spanish, but plan to learn.

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

A little, but I did a lot of research and felt pretty prepared.

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Moving to Panama Soon?

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

Not too much more than expected, I was pretty prepared. The government processes for getting a VISA, ECedula and drivers license included more paperwork and were less efficient than anticipated. Many things here appear less efficient and patience and tolerance is required.

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 think those are good adjectives to describe the phases one may go through. I've experienced all of them at times, in different degrees. I knew I would face many differences and have decided to look at them as "adventures" vs. negatives.

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.

Anxiety for sure. Not knowing the language and being a curious person doesn't mix too well. I'm also a single woman so have experienced some anxiety, mostly with necessary requirements and steps for Visa, eCedula and Drivers license processes. Have also had anger with same at times, but realize that acceptance is a must in a different country. I know it is I that must adjust rather than expecting the country to adjust to me.

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

Sense of adventure, beauty of the county, the kindness and helpfulness of the local people, lower cost of living, slower pace of life.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Not knowing the language. Government processes, inefficiencies, inconsistent building requirements, ie; stairs of all heights! No protection from large drop offs (lack of building code) must be very careful and watch where one is stepping.

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

I accidentally stepped off a 2' patio while looking at fireworks in the dark and broke two metatarsals in my foot. Not really funny, but definitely a learning experience.

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

Learn the language. Commit to having NO expectations and to accepting the culture rather than trying to bend it to your will. Enjoy the adventure no matter what.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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