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Ladislav wrote a great piece about culture shock for expats in our FB group.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/happier ... 191775505/
The Culture Shock Factor
Many people on expat boards seem to have forgotten about the culture shock factor. To remind those who have forgotten:
The culture shock is divided into the following stages – in a simplistic form:
1) The euphoria/honeymoon stage- everything is wonderful, the people are great, everybody loves you, you are very happy with the new place.
2) The negative reaction stage, as you start noticing uncomfortable differences between your own culture and that of the locals. You begin to dislike many things and many people, sometimes the entire host nation.
3) The acceptance/adjustment stage: you learn to accept the new ways and get used to them. This also includes the fact that you begin to adapt to them/learn to get around them and/or protect yourself from the bad things in the host place. Eventually, you start feeling more or less comfortable in the new place and live a more or less normal life in it.
Depending on the person, each stage lasts a certain time. Sometimes, weeks; sometimes, even years.
Usually those who have enough money and who are English speaking only, may have the honeymoon stage last longer because they can keep a lot of bad things at bay with their money. Also, because they don’t speak the local language, they don’t really know what’s going on. They only interact with other English speakers, and these soften whatever conflict they may have with the culture otherwise. But they too, usually have to go thru the other two stages --albeit after a much longer time period.
Those who are poorer, have a much shorter honeymoon stage, and, those who are good at languages and learn them quickly, begin to understand what’s going on for real. And they quickly see that the country, as any other, has many negative elements , of which you can only become aware when you understand what the locals are saying – about you, or otherwise.
Eventually, all people start seeing that not all locals are nice and not all are bad, and that they have the same range of people- from the very , very nice, to real monsters. Just like back home, but in different percentages. Also, both good and evil are expressed with different intensity and in a different degree.
Then, there is the luck factor. Some people are very lucky, and some aren’t. Most have an average mixture or good and bad luck everywhere they go.
When these expats get online, disagreements often ensue as far as their impression of the host country, because, to a large extent, they are going through the different stages of culture shock.
You have some folks who constantly praise the country to high heaven and tell everybody that the locals are angels and that they have never experienced any problems, while some tell stories of mishaps of disasters -- and the horrible people/situations they have run into. Then, you have the former tell the latter that it’s their entire fault --and that the locals are never to blame.
And then, you have seasoned expats who have a realistic, non-euphoric and non-negative view of the country. These are calm and can give good advice on how to negotiate the pit falls in a new place and live a full life in it. They have gone through all the stages of the shock, have learned to function in the new society and are now fully adjusted.
Finally, not all countries are for everybody. One may go through the culture shock and then decide that one does not like this culture at all, and that it’s not for him/her. Which is another correct way to deal with it. One cannot expect to fit in in every place on earth.
Culture shock is real, and should be considered when carrying out discussion with others on the host country topics.
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"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne
Maybe I'm permanently stuck on #2. I always notice the stuff that sucks, remember when I made that blog about not being Happier Abroad?
But then I always seem to attract bad attention. And in China I'm a magnet for bad drivers of electric bicycles (at #3 on my list of 19 Things That Really Suck About Living in China).
It has a lot to do with personality I think. In my current school Chad laoshi is still on #1 even though he's been here for several years. Introverted laoshi is stuck on #2. I'm of course all over the place. Every time I go out I find new things that suck. But on the other hand the teaching job is going great, and I've restarted blogging after a hiatus of a few years.
I quit my boring cubicle slave job and now I'm Happier Abroad...
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