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What Do You Appreciate About Your New Culture?

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: We asked hundreds of expats what they appreciate about their new culture. Here's what some of them had to say.

Living Abroad - What Do You Appreciate About Your New Culture?

We asked hundreds of expats living in every corner of the globe what they appreciate about their new culture in our Culture Shock Report. Here's what some of them had to say:

An expat in Tokyo said, "I appreciated the politeness and customer service/quality aspects of every day life."

"There are many things about Germany that I feel constitute an improvement to my life, but the single most important one is easily their healthcare program. They have a single payer system and everybody in the country is covered. Regardless of what my medical needs are, it is paid without question and without me seeing a bill. The second most appreciated improvement is probably the ability to travel cheaply and without restriction to so many historically and culturally relevant places throughout Europe," said another expat in Erlangen, Germany.

"It is clean, people are more educated amongst south Asian people, nature is beautiful, weather is nice, great fruits and sea food," commented another expat living in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"[I appreciate] the upstanding value of family and friendships, the simplicity of life and sources of happiness, the calm flow of time," remarked an expat in Cordoba, Argentina.

An expat living in Brisbane, Australia said, "[I appreciate] the sun, blue skies and the outdoor lifestyle. Having a pool. Growing tropical plants and fruits. Having parrots in neighbouring trees. Living in thongs."

Another expat in Vienna, Austria commented, "[I appreciate] a lot of things. Vienna is a wonderful city with own charm. Austria is a beautiful country with amazing nature. Art! There's really a lot to do here and it's an amazing place for anyone to visit!"

An expat in Belize City had so many great things to say about life there, "[I appreciate] the laid back.... it will happen when its meant to happen attitude. You can't help but relax. The food...... wholesome and homecooked. The friendliness of the people. The ability to communicate in English makes living here so easy. The multicultural aspect of residents and tourists that you meet every day from all different countries. Conversation flows, and is a constant learning opportunity."

"I think the Brazilian people continue to amaze me with their resiliance! Their lives, in most cases, are very hard, from our point of view, but as I noticed when I first came here, and had heard from others before I arrived, they still find a way to laugh, party and socialize with friends and family, particularly on weekends," said one expat living in Fortaleza, Brazil.

On expat in Vinitsa, Bulgaria shared a list of why she loves living in Bulgaria, "Vinitsa, a "modern" village 12km above Varna is the most delightful place I've lived. #1 is the beautiful simplicity of life. #2 the blue skies and rolling hills overlooking Cherno More. #3 My apartment is like a miniature palace and I feel like a queen in my home. #4 the fresh air #5 the Romani, who in stark contrast to the over-serious Bulgarians are quick to smile, chat, laugh and run barefoot in the rain! #6 the fact that I have every single possible convenience from transportation to veterinarian care; food, restaurants, post, hospital, optician, riding stables, etc..., etc..., etc..., within walking distance - and I mean a few blocks, not kilometers! #7 for me, it is perfect."

One expat living in Beijing, China observed, "The Chinese have a great desire to care for their family. The parents retire at about 55 (women) and 60 (men). They care for the grandchild and live with their children. They feel a sense of duty to care for their parents and the grandparents feel that it is their job to care for the grandchildren. It is also a law that the children care for the parents. The government can garner part of the childrens' wage to care for the parents if the children are negligent in their care for the parents.

An expat living in Pereira, Colombia said, "[I appreciate] the people! The people I have met here are the most sincere and kind people I have ever met. I am from the Mid-West (USA), but have never experienced the level of hospitality that I have here. Colombians never take themselves too serious. They always take the time to enjoy life and explore its possibilities. This is something that I am hoping I will learn while living here."

A person living in Cumbaya, Ecuador commented, "I find that the pace of living, the cost of living, the surrounding natural beauty, the lack of junk mail in my box, the warmth of families and our acceptance by Ecuadorans in general permit me to reflect so favorably about our experience in Ecuador. WE are not ex-patriots, but live alternatively in both countries throughout the year, missing each when in the other country, glad to get back to each when in the other country. This lifestyle has ingratiated itself and we find ourselves enjoying life more in totality, as the cumulative effect is most pleasant."

One expat living in La Redorte, France said, "[I appreciate] being a small village, everyone, yes everyone acknowledges us when out walking in the village whether we know them or not. There is an old-world, gentle courtesy which is wonderful to experience again."

"The food. The food. The food. The amazing things you can get in the markets/shops from scarves to carvings to jewelry. People are very friendly if you smile when asking for help. My friends who helped us adjust that became the closest we've ever had. Oh, and Bollywood. Its absurdity/dancing is just a lot of fun and I bought a few movies and will keep up with the celebrities," said an expat living in Mumbai, India.

An expat living in Florence, Italy said, "Italians love to be outdoors and there are often outdoor markets and festivals to go to. Italians dress very well and they are amusingly stylish and make for great people-watching at any time. Small shops are great for establishing a regular rapport with owners. A medieval building with modern decor inside is always amusing. Florence is a place where you can walk around and actually picture what life could've been like in medieval times. The countryside is beautiful and definitely picturesque. The wine is fantastic and sitting in cafes can be a leisurely past time. Sitting in ancient piazzas and seeing beautiful works of art can be breath taking. I do like the shopping here as well."

One expat living in Tequisquiapan, Mexico said, "I appreciate the "family unit" the most. It mirrors the way things must have been with early migration to the U.S. during and after WWII. I love the ingenuity of the Mexican people. I enjoy seeing their appreciation when you show enthusiam for a job well done. I love that the women cook everything from scratch....little if any pre-cooked foods. Most of all, I truly enjoy the simplicity of life. I find I have a smile on my face most of the time. No Drama (except for the novelas)! Life is good."

Another expat in Amsterdam said, "I appreciate the relaxed atmosphere and level of safety compared to where I came from. I appreciate the Dutch appreciation for time off with family and friends. They know when to stop working and enjoy life, people, each other. They also don't consider themselves competitive as we are raised in the US. This has minuses but definite pluses in how they view life and what they feel is important."

An expat in Bangkok, Thailand explained, "There are few Thai who go running around telling other people what they should do, unlike the USA. The Thai do not interfere in the lives of others without a very good reason. The Thai are patient, fun loving, and tolerant, show respect for other people and especially for elders, and love their freedom."

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: Feb 16, 2013

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